Finding a Job

Defining Your Values To Find Work Happiness

September 10, 2021

For many, the global pandemic offered the opportunity to pause and reflect on what we want in life. Since we spend nearly a third of our lives at our jobs, considering how to find happiness at work is a significant part of that equation. In a 2021 Workplace Happiness Study, commissioned by Indeed and conducted by Forrester Consulting, we found that 92% of people report their happiness at work affects their mood at home.1

As a result, we’ve seen a “Great Realization” among much of the workforce, as some decide to leave their jobs and others seek better opportunity and balance in their current ones. In order to find or create work happiness, it's important to identify what makes you happy in the first place—in other words, what you value.

In this article, we’ll share Indeed research on the dimensions of work happiness and steps to define what you value most to find jobs and companies that meet your needs.

To help us deliver more transparency around happiness for people around the world, share how you're feeling at work by taking Indeed’s work happiness survey.

What are workplace values?

Workplace values are a set of guiding principles that both you and a company hold. Similar to personal values, your workplace values guide your interactions with the world around you. They influence what’s important to you, how you approach problems and how you interact with others. Exercising your workplace values should make you feel motivated, fulfilled and safe in your job.

While what’s important will differ from person to person, examples of workplace values include:

  • Autonomy
  • Innovation
  • Diversity
  • Transparency
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity
  • Integrity
  • Inclusion
  • Respect

Companies can also establish a set of values that serve as guidelines for how they do business and expect their employees to interact with clients and each other. These values may be set by the founders of a company early on, or by a leadership team trying to enhance the culture of their company.

Read more: 83 Core Value Examples for the Workplace

Why is it important to define what we value?

How we feel at work affects how we feel at home. A mismatch between your personal values and your company's can cause you to feel unmotivated, isolated, unappreciated and unhappy. For example, if you strongly value creativity and your employer values process and procedure you might find yourself feeling constrained by barriers and bureaucracy.

When you do find an employer that meets your needs, however, our survey found people overwhelmingly agree that finding happy work is possible—97% of respondents said they believe work can be a place for happiness.1

How we feel at work impacts how we feel at home

Furthermore, when asked who was responsible for an individual's happiness at work, results showed a 50/50 split of responsibility between individuals and the organization.1 Psychology professor and happiness specialist Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky believes this presents positive opportunity for the future of work in two ways:

  1. Employers can better understand new worker expectations
  2. By prioritizing these new metrics, employers can improve employee experience, retain talent and increase their competitive advantage.

50/50 split between individuals and employers

As such, while companies are taking more responsibility to establish their values and mission, we as employees must do the work to define our own, recognize what’s important to us and choose an employer that aligns with them.

Related: How To Use the Work Happiness Score on Indeed Company Pages

How do I define my workplace values?

Defining your values can feel like a big task, especially if you haven’t considered it before. We enlisted help from leading happiness experts Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky and Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of Oxford University’s Wellbeing Research Centre to create a guide that helps you identify what makes you happy at work. With their expert guidance, we have identified the following key drivers of work happiness:

  • Belonging - I feel a sense of belonging in my company.
  • Energy - In most of my work tasks, I feel energized.
  • Appreciation - There are people at work who appreciate me as a person.
  • Purpose - My work has a clear sense of purpose.
  • Achievement - I am achieving most of my goals at work.
  • Compensation - I am paid fairly for my work.
  • Support - There are people at work who give me support and encouragement.
  • Learning - I often learn something at work.
  • Inclusion - My work environment feels inclusive and respectful of all people.
  • Flexibility - My work has the time and location flexibility I need.
  • Trust - I can trust people in my company.
  • Manager support - My manager helps me succeed.
  • Stress level - I feel stressed at work, most of the time.
  • Satisfaction - Overall, I am completely satisfied with my job.
  • Happiness - I feel happy at work most of the time.

Understanding the key dimensions you value can take more than just simple reflection. Consider taking stock of how you are currently feeling at work, or how you felt at your most recent job.

For example, you might start with a thought exercise by completing the following sentences:

  • At work, I feel a sense of trust when…
  • At work, I feel included when…
  • At work, I feel well managed when…
  • At work, I feel a sense of belonging when…
  • At work, I feel energized when…
  • At work, I feel appreciated when…
  • At work, I feel respected when...

Thought exercise

Another thought practice is reflecting on your favorite and least favorite jobs. For this exercise, write down the best job(s) and worst job(s) you’ve had, then identify which key drivers were abundant in those roles. In other words, which jobs gave you the most energy, and why? Those can be paid positions, volunteer jobs, internships or other types of work.

For example, if the best job you’ve had valued belonging, inclusion and trust while the worst job you had valued management, compensation and purpose, then social connection and psychological safety may be higher priorities for you than recognition or purpose.

Best and worst jobs worksheet

These two exercises can be greatly beneficial towards understanding what you value in the workplace and assist you in your journey of achieving happiness in the workplace. For more, check out our Well-Being at Work Happiness Guide to download the worksheets above and learn how to define what’s important to you in your career.


1 Indeed Workplace Happiness Report, a commissioned study (n=4,033 US adults) conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Indeed, 2021.

Workplace Happiness Report, 2021:

This report shares the findings of commissioned research conducted online by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Indeed, fielded in March 2021. Forrester Consulting surveyed adults ages 18+ who reported working either full-time, part-time and individuals actively searching for a new role: 4,033 US adults were surveyed.

To ensure a representative sample, quotas were set by age, education, gender, geography, and income.

The research explored a variety of topics related to happiness at work, including happiness in different aspects of respondents’ overall lives, the contribution of workplace happiness to overall happiness, the importance of different dimensions of workplace happiness, and underlying factors that respondents believe would influence the different dimensions of workplace happiness.

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