Cents and Sensibility — Finding happiness at work

Beth Peabody

Last month’s column celebrated the arrival of pleasant weather with advice to do some “spring cleaning” of your finances. Action items included determining if retirement accounts remain with an old employer should be rolled into a new or existing IRA rollover to help simplify your finances. 

Another suggestion was to review beneficiary designations for your IRAs, company retirement plans and insurance policies to make sure that assets transfer to preferred individuals (or charities of your choice) at your death.

When this column was first introduced more than two years ago, the goal was to offer advice to improve financial wellness. With the column’s  launch, Dr. Brian Reynolds, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Louisville, said, “good financial management in a family can help make a family healthier and more stable” and noted, “It’s about care for ourselves and care for those who depend on us.” 

Hopefully, actions highlighted each month have prompted greater communication regarding your finances, which has led to less stress, more stability and a healthier and happier family. 

Turning to a new topic, I was asked recently, “Are people who earn more money happier in daily life?” While my initial response was, “It depends,” I decided to research the topic. In this month’s column, l will share a few findings for you to consider.

In a publication this year, researchers from Wharton and Princeton asserted, “For emotional well-being, money isn’t the be-all and end-all. Money is just one of the many determinants of happiness.” 

I pondered, “What could be other determinants of happiness?”

Considering that many of us currently spend more than 25% of our time each week at work, and a significant amount of our time thinking about work, shouldn’t a source of happiness come from our work environment? 

As I considered my own happiness, and asked many others for their input, I concluded, “Yes!” People are happier when they enjoy the people with whom they work.

Given that most companies have employees whose ages span many decades, and plenty of different life experiences, can they be happy working together? Can those who are in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and possibly 70’s, work together to meet this goal and, if so, how?

Identified below are three attitudes to assume that can create a culture of happiness in your workforce:

  • Humility – the quality of being humble and having a modest view of your importance. The team creates success. 
  • Respect – showing admiration for certain abilities, qualities or achievements of others. Who doesn’t love a compliment?
  • Curiosity – Smart people are curious, and age does not define curious people. Be curious in your role and in those of others with whom you work. A quote from co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” What a classic.

In summary, while money can buy some happiness, wouldn’t it be great to earn your money while also being happy in your work?

Action item for May: Improve your happiness by showing humility, respect and curiosity in your workplace, and I bet it will inspire others.

Beth Stegner Peabody, CEO of Stegner Investment Associates, is a graduate of St. Agnes School and Sacred Heart Academy. Previous Cents & Sensibility columns may be viewed at https://therecordnewspaper.org/editorials-commentary/cents-sensibility/

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