If only you had a bigger salary, a nicer boss, a more flexible schedule.Then you’d love your job! But if you’re convinced that a few minor tweaks would turn your ho-hum nine-to-five into your dream job, you very well might be mistaken. Here, we show you five common things we all believe would make our professional lives infinitely better, but that simply may not deliver the boost we expect.
1. The So-Called Happiness Boost: A Shorter Workweek
Why you think it will make you happier: Who doesn’t think that the solution to workplace happiness is working fewer hours? Spending less time at work means having time to devote to the activities that really make you happy. You can hang out more with your family and friends, participate in your hobbies, get more exercise and blessed sleep—you believe.
Why it doesn’t always work: It turns out people aren’t very good at using their newly freed-up time on happiness-boosting activities. A recent study reported on an experiment that occurred when South Korea reduced its workweek from 44 hours per week to 40 hours a week. And employees could only work five days instead of six. The result: Worker hours decreased by about 10 percent, but self-reported job satisfaction and life satisfaction didn’t budge. Translation: A happier worker isn’t always the one who works fewer hours in a week.
2. The So-Called Happiness Boost: More Vacation Time
Why you think it will make you happier: You already cherish your time off, so having more of it seems like just what the doctor ordered. Maybe that way you could replace a few desk-bound days with the ski trip or yoga retreat you can never find time to take. In fact, maybe an extra week would put an end to “vacation math”—trying to figure out how you’re going to squeeze in all the trips you want to take with the days you have left—altogether!
Why it doesn’t always work: A recent article compared the number of vacation days in the U.S. with those in similar countries and found that many of our European neighbors, from Austria to Switzerland, had at least 20 legally mandated paid vacation days—while the U.S. has zero. However, here’s the rub: People who live in countries with more vacation days aren’t necessarily happier. 73% percent of Americans report job satisfaction, whereas only 57% of Italians, who receive 20 paid vacation days and 11 paid holidays per year, are happy with their jobs.