If you’re surrounded by people who think dreading Mondays is the norm, it’s little wonder you’re searching the internet for that magical ‘happy career’ that will sort out your problems.
Luckily, there are scores of happiness at work studies that tell you which are the happiest jobs. One these is the City & Guilds’ Happiness Index (a UK yearly survey). According to this, the professions with the highest proportion of people who say they are happy at work are:
2. Beauty Therapist
3. Early Years/Childcare
The unhappiest? Secretaries/PAs/admin workers.
So to be happy we should all become hairdressers. Right?
I’m not so sure. The better question is, what’s behind this list? The top 5 happy professions have the following in common: high interaction with people, are out of a conventional office, and do things that have clear outcomes.
The top 4 are about caring for people. And even number 5, plumber (and number 6, electrician) are about fixing things that are plaguing people.
Plus the work environment. Not only are these roles out of the regular office, they are also free of the ever looming career ladder (a constant reminder that you haven’t quite made it).
But that’s the usual analysis. I think there is something more though.
The focus in these professions is on making others happy/well. To do this the environment you work in needs to have that positive feel (think about how a hair salon feels).
To me, that is the reason that people in these fields say they are happy – because they are happy makers they focus on others all day (forgetting about their own worries) and also work in a happy and harmonious environment.
Contrast this with the least happy profession. Admin work usually means a lack of control over what you do. Admin work is part of a clear pecking order (and when you’re constantly reminded you’re low on the ladder, that doesn’t feel great).
There is something about that office-admin environment that feels toxic. Office politics, an impenetrable pecking order, stuck in an airless office box with a lack of freedom about your day… plus a question mark over the point of what you actually contribute every day. Sound familiar?
It’s not just admin workers is it?
The happiest jobs lists don’t mean we should all become hairdressers. Some of us would feel stifled and unfulfilled even by that. But these lists do teach us something.
If you are stuck in a soul destroying office environment, and want to stop living only for the weekends, then it is vital you take ‘happiness’ as seriously as your colleagues take ‘career progression’.
Reconsidering your priorities at work is a must if you are to find something that makes you so happy you stop searching the internet for happiest jobs lists.