Everyone wants to feel happy at work. It’s a no-brainer. But finding a dream job that provides you with everything you need to avoid career burnout and actually enjoy your work hours… well, that’s a tricky task.

In a comprehensive new study, staffing agency Robert Half surveyed more than 12,000 US and Canadian workers of all ages to find out what really keeps people satisfied with their jobs. (And no, it’s not just dressing down for casual Fridays and eating those homemade donuts the boss brought in.)

young businesswoman

Unsurprisingly, having pride in one’s organization is the number-one driver of workplace happiness. Small-business employees are more engaged than those aligned with large organizations, and creative professionals also score big for their level of interest in their work.

What’s probably most interesting about this study is who says they’re the least happy with their jobs. Compared to millennials and senior employees, members of Generation X — AKA those 35 to 54 — are the most stressed out at work. In the US, men also fare better than women in nearly every aspect of happiness the study covers, especially in their ability to weigh in on business decisions.

So what are you supposed to do if you’re a middle-aged woman in the workforce? Don’t fret just yet. Robert Half District President Brandi Britton has a few tips to help you find your on-the-job happy place.

6 Expert Tips for Workplace Happiness

1. Take charge. “If you’re unhappy at work, you need to be proactive about finding solutions,” says Brandi. “As much as a company may strive to keep its employees happy, a lot of the onus falls on the individual.” Take ownership of your self-care, ladies. If we won’t do it, no one will.

2. Self-evaluate. “Take some time to evaluate what exactly is getting in the way of your happiness,” Brandi suggests. This can take the form of self-reflection, but if you’re struggling to find the answer, it doesn’t hurt to try asking your work bestie for their advice too.

3. Ask for what you need. Once you’ve pinpointed the cause, it’s time to start fixing the problem. “Talk to your manager about what would help you be more happy,” says Brandi, “whether it’s having a flexible schedule, working on different types of projects, getting additional support or resources or pursuing training.”

4. Find a mentor. “Having a mentor who you can seek advice from and bounce ideas off of can do wonders,” Brandi shares. Find that one person who is where you want to be in 10 years, and just ask if they wouldn’t mind giving you some advice over coffee. Yes, it’s scary. But it’s totally doable with a little #girlboss courage.

5. Seek a healthy work-life balance. “Professionals have a lot of things to juggle in their personal lives that can inadvertently seep into their minds and time at work, including home and family obligations,” Brandi notes. Just like in other aspects of your life, balance is key. Make sure you have enough time to unwind and relax… even if it means postponing that mega important meeting.

6. Evaluate potential employers. Organization and department cultures can make or break your on-the-job happiness, so it’s important to assess your prospective employers just as much as they are assessing you. “Keep in mind that there’s more to happiness than high salaries and flashy perks,” Brandi reminds us. “You need to focus on the fundamentals and what’s really important long-term, such as a good corporate culture and feeling valued.”

How do you practice self-care at work? Tweet us by mentioning @BritandCo!

(Featured photo via Getty)