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Happy at Work: How to Attain Workplace Satisfaction

Contributed by: Robert Half

If you’re not happy at work, don’t just grumble – do something about it. A recent comprehensive study1 by Robert Half found that the average level of workplace satisfaction among a majority of U.S. and Canadian employees was 71 on a scale of zero to 100. Not bad, but not great.

What influences employees to work happy? Feeling appreciated, a sense of accomplishment, pride in the organization, worthwhile work, interest in the work, and being treated with fairness and respect are among the attributes identified as key happiness drivers. The study2 then sorted these across industries, breaking down financial jobs into three fields: accounting, financial services and finance professionals. A sense of accomplishment was the attribute shared by all three of these.

Tips for being happy at work

While happiness at work may sound like a you-have-it-or-you-don’t kind of proposition, whether you’re a junior financial analyst or senior accounting manager, there are actual concrete steps you can take to improve your workplace satisfaction. Here are some ideas:

  • Add variety to your day. Working with numbers is your strong suit. But if that’s all you do, you could lose interest in your daily tasks. Shake things up with activities that vary the routine. For example, take that noontime yoga class the company offers. Or consider volunteering3 for community outreach programs your workplace supports — worthwhile work that can make you feel good about your contributions and your employer.
  • Challenge yourself. Mental stagnation leads to boredom and frustration. If you’re losing interest in your accounting job, give yourself a challenge. Depending on where you are in your career, you could go to graduate school4 or work toward another accounting certification5. If that’s not an option, look for internal career development opportunities. When you’re ready, ask your manager for stretch assignments – achievements and a sense of accomplishment go a long way toward helping you fall in love with your job again.
  • Ask about alternative scheduling. Those who have to juggle job and home responsibilities are likely to be stressed by the push and pull of competing demands. If this sounds like you, approach your boss about options for flextime or telecommuting. Better work-life integration6 can improve your outlook and lead to greater workplace satisfaction.
  • Build a community. Rather than working through lunch or heading home at 5 p.m., try getting to know your colleagues better with a meal, coffee or after-work outing. Healthy, supportive workplace relationships play a big role in employee happiness and help workers better manage stress and demands of the job.
  • Request assistance. Overwork is a stressor, and leads to unhappiness. If you’re a manager, consider bringing in seasonal help to shoulder the extra load during tax season7, year-end close and other busy times of the year.
  • Know your worth. A major source of workplace dissatisfaction is feeling unappreciated, which may stem from looking at your paycheck stub. Take initiative by researching salaries in your market8 to determine if you’re underpaid before you approach your boss and ask for a raise9.

Visit for more information on the AICPA Robert Half program for AICPA members.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at