Happiness at work is 12 questions away

Gerald Haigh

My father had a question he asked people all the time. "Are you happy at your work?" he'd say. Sometimes he was serious, sometimes ironic, and sometimes it was just a version of "hello".

Now it's my signature question, too. And I have the same conviction my father held: to relish your job, to know that whatever happens you can handle it and be appreciated, are things to be cherished. And these things - it's been proven - are more important than money.

This should encourage school leaders: while they have only limited powers to remunerate, they do have plenty of opportunities to make their colleagues' working lives more pleasant. I thought of that when I read about the Gallup organisation's 25-year-long investigation into what makes "a strong workplace", one in which people are content and effective.

Gallup interviewed a million workers and asked them hundreds of questions.

It came up with just 12 key questions which by massive agreement measure workplace satisfaction. As you read them, consider whether you, as a leader, feel that these are areas in which you could make a difference if you tried a bit harder.

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4. In the past seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?

5. Does my supervisor seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7. Do my opinions seem to count?

8. Am I made to feel that my work is important?

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

11. In the past six months, have I talked with someone about my progress?

12. At work, have I had opportunities to learn and grow?

The questions come from First Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman (Simon Schuster)

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Gerald Haigh

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