We’ve all heard it before: “If you don’t wake up excited to go to work, you’re doing the wrong job.”
That saying exists because sometimes it’s hard to find happiness at work. Whether you dislike the position you’re in, work long hours, have stressful responsibilities or feel as though you’ve missed your calling, sometimes there are good reasons to be unhappy in a certain role or career path.
However, even when we’re unhappy, there’s something that keeps us going; for many professionals, that “something” is the possibility of a raise — the promise that happiness is right around the corner.
What many don’t realize, though, is that more money doesn’t promise happiness.
Does this mean unhappy employees should give up on the idea that happiness is possible?
Absolutely not! Instead, there are many other things employees can negotiate for that are more likely to raise their happiness at work than a raise.
The Ability to Work From Home
It’s a given: Employers like to see you’re doing work, and being in the office is the best way to accomplish this without distraction. However, more employers are now offering more flexible schedules and the ability to work from home when needed. This removes the need to show up when sick and helps when family situations arise that would be less of a headache if you were able to work from home. Top companies including Amazon, Xerox and IBM have been allowing employees to telecommute for some time now.
Sometimes in order to move up, you need to increase the skills you bring to the table. When there are positions you see as suitable for advancement in your current role, you might need a boost to get to the next level. This is where education becomes critical.
But education can be expensive. Finding a way to balance work and school while financing life can be a challenge. Fortunately, many employers have started to realize this and have started to support employees looking for ways to earn higher levels of education.
In fact, according to the American Council of Education, roughly 20% of graduate students in the U.S. receive tuition assistance from employers. Employers like McElroy Metal and TE Connectivity provide educational assistance packages that provide a certain allotment — in addition to standard salaries — for employees to pursue higher education.
Benefits to Get Healthy
It might seem a little “out of the box,” but employees who are able to stay in shape while working full time and maintaining a home life can be compensated. One company, Healthy Contributions, found employees who received $20 a month toward gym memberships exercised three times more than those who did not. Working out improves moods and company morale while leading to longer life spans. Negotiating gym memberships is a simple way to improve satisfaction at work.
Sick Days Rather Than Paid Time Off
A recent trend in HR is to provide paid time off (PTO), which groups together sick days and vacation days. This means that many employees are forced to save days for vacations and are more likely to feel forced to come to work when sick. Conversely, employees may feel as though they cannot take vacation days in case illness should arise. Being able to use vacation days without worrying about anything else is one important step toward increasing happiness at work.
A Better Title
It might seem small, but a title means a lot. In your current position, a title might make a difference in how you’re viewed by coworkers and the respect that you’re afforded. It might also help when looking at new career options and trying to move up in your professional life.
Companies that use creative job titles, like Apple’s “Genius” designation for customer service representatives and Best Buy’s “Geek Squad,” find those with creative titles stay twice as long as those with standard titles. Consider asking your employer to change your title for a little extra job satisfaction.
The Ability to Attend Conferences
Work conferences serve multiple purposes. They get employees out of the office and into less-traditional atmospheres. They provide education on topics that might be hard to find on the job. They allow for networking and interaction opportunities that don’t happen inside a traditional 9-to-5 position. They’re also a tax write-off for employers. On your end, they provide opportunities to have fun in a location you might not have been able to visit otherwise. Professional conferences are a win-win for both parties involved.
Reaching for these extra benefits is important. In fact, MetLife’s U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Survey found professionals who are satisfied with their work benefits are over two times more likely to be satisfied in their careers. Money may not buy happiness, but the perks listed above just might.
To reach for additional benefits, set up a meeting and come prepared. Make a list — or chart — of exactly what you’re looking for, other companies that are offering similar benefits, and why they would benefit your company. By making it about them, instead of about you, you’re more likely to accomplish what you’re looking for. Avoid voicing dissatisfaction in your current role and remain positive in your approach.
If you’re looking for happiness in your career, the extra perks listed above might be your best chance. Start making a plan to discuss options with your employer today.
About the Author: Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to sharing advice on finding happiness and success in life and at work. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahLandrum or subscribe to her blog for more great tips on finding your Careertopia.