Happiness in the workplace comes from hardest decisions

Published: Monday, April 15 2013 7:00 a.m. MDT

Kindergarten kids gather for a photo at an inner-city school in Houston. An article in the Harvard Business Review says that those with jobs that face difficult challenges, such as helping children in an inner-city school, have the most job satisfaction.

Megan Morton

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Money is a far-removed factor to what influences happiness in the workplace, according to an article by Harvard Business Review.

Those who are happiest at work had primarily three sources that influenced them: mastery, membership and meaning. While money contributes, it didn't motivate enthusiasm or leave workers with fulfillment after coming home each day.

“Everyone, regardless of their work situation, [should] have a sense of responsibility for at least one aspect of changing the world,” said Rosabeth Kanter, a Harvard professor and author of the article. “It's as though we all have two jobs: our immediate tasks and the chance to make a difference.”

Jobs that dealt with some of the most difficult human problems brought employees the most satisfaction.

Such was the case with Ellen Goodman. Goodman was previously a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist but she quit her columnist job. After dealing with the grief of her dying mom, Goodman started The Conversation Project, which is a campaign to help families face talking about death and end-of-life care.

Although the happiest of those surveyed had jobs that dealt with deep emotions, the happiness came from feeling they make a difference in the lives of those they work with.

EMAIL: alovell@deseretnews.com

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