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When we engage in conversations about work happiness during online workshops or training sessions, various beautiful examples always come up: ‘That time I had so much fun with that colleague’, ‘When we landed that mega contract’, ‘The super warm welcome on my first day’, or ‘When I realized during that conversation with my manager that I was truly being listened to’.

Happiness at Work means something different to everyone. What makes John happy may make Pete very unhappy. Thankfully. But when we look at all these different answers and compare them to what scientists say about work happiness, four pillars can be distinguished. We’ve named them the four P’s of work happiness: Purpose, People, Progress, and Positivity.

pillars of Happiness at Work

pillars of Happiness at Work


Purpose is about the feeling that you contribute to something larger than yourself, making a difference, feeling that what you do at work is meaningful. This plays out on a personal, team, and organizational level. Why do you get out of bed? How does your team add value? And what is the higher purpose of the organization and who is it important to?


This pillar is about the connection with other people. We are social beings and need to be able to be with others. That is precisely what makes this Corona crisis so difficult. No hugs from family, no drinks and coffee moments with colleagues. It’s about being yourself, receiving appreciation from others, being able to speak up, and having time and genuine attention for each other.


If nothing works on a workday, and at the end of the day, you feel like you haven’t made any progress, it can be very frustrating for many people. Making progress in meaningful work is the strongest motivator. Clear goals, achieving results that are important to you, autonomy, and responsibility are all important in this pillar.


The fourth pillar is about positivity and fun. Having fun together creates a good atmosphere, which in turn leads to more creativity, pleasant collaboration, and better results. And with that, this pillar is also a pitfall because if we only focus on fun and making jokes, it quickly becomes tiresome.

How are you doing with these four pillars? What grade would you give each of these four at the end of this week? Do you want to know more about how you can use these pillars to increase your work happiness or that of your team? Then read our book “The Happy Office Manifesto.”