How would you respond if someone asked you, “How do you like your job?” Would you say you have one of the happiest jobs on the planet, or do negative thoughts immediately bubble to the surface?
While there are many people in the workforce who dread going to work every morning, there are those who are lucky enough to be pursuing happy and fulfilling careers.
There isn’t one magic formula that will guarantee a happy job, but there are some tell-tale signs that a particular role will put a smile on your face.
In this article, we’ll discuss the contributing factors to some of the happiest jobs out there. We’ll also review specific careers that seem to make people the happiest, plus what you can do if you hate your job.
Contributing Factors to the Happiest Jobs
It’s understandable to think that job satisfaction is directly correlated to a high salary. But this isn’t always the case. Money isn’t the only contributor to happiness.
Don’t get us wrong, the highest-paying jobs will bring some level of happiness to your life. But a big paycheck doesn’t guarantee bliss. A 2019 study found that 46% of employees said wages were very important to their overall job satisfaction. However, about 60% of employees considered factors like job security, interest in their job, and the people they work with as being very important.
So, what are some other characteristics of the happiest jobs in America? We’re glad you asked.
To start, the jobs that impart the most happiness and fulfillment are those that enable you to do something meaningful — usually, that means having a positive impact on others.
Jobs that allow you to help others rather than just crunching numbers at a desk all day are oftentimes much more rewarding. Seeing the impact your work has on others can make it easier to get out of bed every day.
Doing meaningful work has been attributed to higher levels of motivation, employee engagement, and personal fulfillment. It has also been linked to reduced stress levels and absenteeism.
Careers that enable you to follow your passion also create a sense of personal meaning and purpose. When you feel as though your work is your calling, you’re more energized and fulfilled. As the old saying goes, “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Here are some careers that provide meaningful work:
- Teaching Assistant
- Executive Chef
- Physical Therapist
Positive company culture
Companies that go the extra mile to ensure they have a positive and engaging company culture are better positioned to have higher employee retention. That’s because employees are willing to stick around if they enjoy their work environment and can identify with their company’s values and core mission.
It’s a bonus if you get along and relate with your coworkers and managers. Positive relationships with your teammates can make workdays more enjoyable and foster a sense of camaraderie as you work toward common goals.
Companies that respect their employees’ time and personal lives offer a better work-life balance, which results in happier and more productive employees in the long run. In contrast, you have an increased chance of burning out when you have an imbalanced schedule and work long hours. Burnout decreases productivity, increases work errors, and results in higher employee turnover rates.
Positive company culture can show up across most industries, although marketing and advertising seem to be notably high with progressive work policies.
Here are some careers that instill great company cultures:
- Marketing Specialist
- Social Media Strategist
A weight is lifted off your shoulders when you can show up to work every day without worrying if you’ll be let go. In fact, 45% of workers are more interested in job security than receiving a 3% pay raise. This goes to show that peace of mind is more important than a pay increase.
Careers that have a strong sense of job security foster a happier life and make work much more manageable. When you’re not anxious about whether or not your job will be on the chopping block, you can focus on doing your job to the best of your ability.
Here are some careers that tend to have reliable job security:
- Software Engineer
- Human Resources
- Loan Officer
People like companies that empower them to complete work independently without always having someone looking over their shoulder.
Micromanaging can be incredibly annoying and demeaning. It can give you the feeling that your manager thinks you’re incompetent and incapable of working without constant oversight. On the other hand, when your manager trusts you and gives you the freedom to complete your work independently, it can improve your performance and encourage professional growth.
There’s also something to be said about having control over when you complete your work and how you schedule your time. You will always have deadlines that must be met, but not everyone is productive at the same time of day.
You must have the freedom to complete your work on your own terms. One occupation that allows for greater work autonomy is being a business owner (more on that later).
Here are some careers that allow you to work with a relatively high level of autonomy:
- Software Developer
- QA Analyst
- Research Assistant
Why do some jobs suck?
According to Patrick Lencioni, author of The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, the unhappiest jobs can be traced back to three core factors — anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurement.
Anonymity in the workplace, the irrelevance of your work, and being unable to measure your impact on the success of the company are the three reasons why employees become unhappy with their work.
Let’s take a look at each of the three signs of a miserable job, so you know how to identify (and avoid) them.
It may feel as though you’re completely anonymous when you don’t have a positive connection with your managers and coworkers.
Positive and genuine interactions with your coworkers can increase job satisfaction and strengthen your commitment to the company. You’re more likely to stay with a company when you feel supported by your coworkers.
This also applies to your manager’s interest in your career advancement. Great managers will have an open dialogue regarding where you want to take your career. When a manager shows little interest, employees can feel as if they’re just another cog in the machine.
Have you ever heard the saying “Doing work to do work”? Completing work just for the sake of keeping busy can make for a dreadfully dull workday.
It’s also painful to complete projects and assignments that have little impact on the company or others’ lives. This takes us back to what we mentioned above — doing meaningful work is much more fulfilling than completing tasks that have no visible impact.
How can I even tell I am being effective?
Determining your job performance can be a difficult task. Putting this performance into a measurable metric can be even more challenging.
People become unhappy in certain roles if they’re unable to gauge how well they’re performing and the effect it has on the company as a whole.
The most satisfying jobs give employees valuable feedback as to how their work has impacted the company. They also give routine assessments, so workers know what they have been doing well and where there’s room for improvement.
So, what do you do if you find yourself in a less-than-desirable career? Do you stick it out, or do you find a way to be among those in the happiest job category?
One solution to job happiness is striking out on your own and starting your own business.
Find Happiness by Being Your Own Boss
Entrepreneurship isn’t the right path for everyone. However, starting a business is an ideal solution for those who are fed up with the corporate world and stuck in an unhappy job.
Having your own business means you’re the boss. You get to make all the decisions and can work on your own terms. You get to make the rules, set your own schedule, and do something that you love. Plus, you get to see the results of all the effort you’ve poured into your business. It’s never too late to follow your gut, make a change, and start doing meaningful work that you genuinely enjoy.
A Different Route to Job Satisfaction
Not everyone is lucky enough to be in one of the happiest professions in America, but there are some key qualities to look out for, including work that’s meaningful, a positive company culture, job security, and work autonomy.
If you find that you have a toxic employer or simply don’t find fulfillment in your work, it's up to you to make a change. Whether that means changing jobs or taking a completely different route, the choice is yours.
Starting your own business could be the change you need. While it may sound like a drastic measure, it’s easier than you might think — especially if you have help from Main Street.
You minimize the risks of going it alone with the support and guidance of our team of mentors and instructors. Plus, with better systems and technology in place (compared to a franchise), you can pursue your next venture with confidence.
Be sure to check out what Main Street has to offer prospective entrepreneurs. The change you're looking for could be right around the corner.