Workplace satisfaction: how should you feel at the end of a working day?

More and more people want to leave work feeling filled with purpose. But purpose may not be your cup of tea.

You need to leave work feeling the emotions that matter to you, not the ones that don’t.

And the best way to understand what emotions you want to feel is to understand the different emotions you can feel.

So here are 11, to kick things off to achieve the ultimate workplace satisfaction. 

workplace satisfaction

11 positive emotions you can feel at the end of a working day

Like you’ve earned your pay cheque

You go home exhausted, covered in dirt and with a stinking headache – but you’ve worked damn hard and earned your money and you feel proud of what you’re putting in and getting out.

Like you’re ‘on top’ of your job

You feel aware of all the moving parts of your job and how they fit together – you’re not overwhelmed by them and you have a clear sense of what you’ll be doing tomorrow, the next day and the week after.

Like you’re professionally developing or being challenged

For some people, being bored at work or feeling like you’re professionally stagnating is intolerable. This positive emotion is about leaving work feeling like you’ve ‘leveled up’ – you’re better than you were yesterday in some small or big way.

Like you’re ready to transition to ‘home’

You leave work, the sun is still high in the sky, you’re feeling good about your life and work is being put back in its ‘box’ in your mind until tomorrow. Home, here you come.

Like you’ve succeeded – and moved the dial

This is about feeling successful, like you’re good at your job and are making a difference – that you’re achieving what you’re employed to do.

Like work occupies the place in your life you want it to

Whether work is central to your identity or something you do in between weekends, you leave work feeling like it’s not underrepresented or overrepresented in your life.

Like you’ve processed the day’s emotions

Leaving work with unresolved tensions is nasty: your body’s checked out and your mind’s still at your desk. But it feels great when the ‘whole you’ gets in the car and goes home.

Like you’ve bolstered or improved your workplace relationships

You leave work valuing the relationships you have there. Maybe someone had your back or helped you out. Maybe you asked someone to mentor you. Or perhaps your team is just firing on all cylinders.

Like you’ve made a contribution to your industry

You’re working on something that will define the automotive sector, or physics, or engineering, for years to come. Or maybe it’s nothing so grandiose, but it’s still adding to your industry, little by little.

Like you’ve made a contribution to your family

You’ve had a tough day, but you picture your family in your mind and feel proud of your hard graft – it’s all for them.

Like you’ve made a contribution to society

You work for a charity. Every day at work, in everything you do, you’re trying to build a better future for those in need. 

Your happiness at work: two practical tips to using this list wisely

There is a cost to everything – finding your balance is key

No job can provide everything. Often the more a job delivers on one dimension, the more likely it is to undeliver on another.

Jobs that provide a powerful, intrinsic sense of purpose – those in the charity sector – pay less than in the private sector.

And jobs that deliver on pay may underdeliver on work-life balance – being able to switch off at the end of the day.

But of course this takes out the control you have over the situation. There are ways to help yourself switch off, for example.

Think about what you need first, then the best place to get it

Work doesn’t need to, and in fact can’t, deliver on everything you need.

You crave purpose – that’s why you volunteer every weekend. Does work need to give you purpose too?

Maybe. But maybe not. It comes down to your individual emotional needs.

So start thinking about your own work and life. What do you need to feel to be satisfied?

Trust at work helps drive some of the emotional outcomes in this article. Here are five critically-important facts that help you develop and maintain trust at work.