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These Twelve Questions Will Help You Figure Out If You’re Happy at Work

a Newton's cradle drawing on a chalkboard

I’m positive none of you need a list to know whether or not you are happy at work but you’re getting one anyway.

The Well+Being newsletter from The Washington Post recently shared this simple 12-step quiz, a proprietary survey created by Gallup and based on research from 2.7 million workers across 50 industries worldwide. The quick survey — which Gallup calls the Q12 — is supposed to be a way for leaders to take the pulse of their underlings and have conversations about where the company is falling short in meeting employee needs.

In order, the questions reflect a Maslow-esque hierarchy of needs:

A chart explaining the Gallup Q12 worker well-being survey hierarchy of needs

The idea here is that if basic needs aren’t met then individual contribution, teamwork, and growth are not possible. Now that we understand the concept, on to the questions. As you go down the list contemplate each item and respond in the affirmative (yes) or negative (no).

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Any “no” questions signal an issue (obviously). If you answered “no” to practically every question then I’m sorry to say friend but you are downright miserable and should probably quit immediately. If you answered “no” to questions 1 and/or 2, chances are you racked up a few more no’s on your way down the list and will continue to struggle with items 2-12 unless the first two are addressed and resolved. If resolution is not possible in your current role then, well, you know what you have to do.

Did “I have a best friend at work” stand out to you as weird? That’s OK, it’s is weird. But surprisingly informative when it comes to your overall well-being at work. WaPo:

Notably, whether you have a close friend at work is the “most contentious thing we’ve ever asked in a workplace,” said Jon Clifton, chief executive of Gallup and author of the new book, “Blind Spot: The Global Rise of Unhappiness and How Leaders Missed It.”

“There are a lot of executives who feel like your personal life stops when you show up to work,” he said. “They don’t want to talk about people being friends in the office. But it’s one of the single biggest things that predicts retention.”

You may not necessarily need a “best” friend but Gallup data show that connection with colleagues beyond the standard coworker stuff is important. Even moreso with the pandemic and the feelings of isolation that came with. But don’t connect too hard with your colleagues, that never works out well.

In thinking about my own job I answered “yes” to 11 of the 12 questions. Except #9. Regular Going Concern readers will vouch. It’s fine.

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