Humans are often called on to make smart decisions. However, in truth, we don’t excel at wise decision making. Given the deluge of information we consciously and subconsciously ingest, our judgement may not always be on target. When we’re at work, we aim to make only the right decisions — and yet, we often miss the mark on the few that will determine how happy and effective we are at work. Neuroscience to the rescue! According to this field of science, if we make the following decisions at work, we set ourselves for higher success and less stress. Yep, reading this is already a brilliant choice!
1. Choose the right work bestie
Who we spend our time around with matters. Sure, in a work setting one often doesn’t have the choice who they share an office with. However you do choose your closest friend at work, aka your work bestie. This will quickly determine your level of happiness at work—even if you hate your actual job. Psychologist Uri Hasson at Princeton University researched how people’s brain waves synchronize as they spend time together. Having participants watch films, he noticed that, after a time, the same brain regions lit up within different individuals, at the same scenes within the movie. When you’re at work, your works friends and you possess similar experiences and worries, “Jan from the sales team can talk anyone under a table!” or “Do you think we’ll have holiday bonuses again this year?” Find a work friend that likens to someone you want to be—you’ll be making a win for your work happiness.
2. Journal when you took a work risk. And when it paid off.
Assistant professor of marketing at Northwestern University, Moran Cerf, encourages his students to write down whenever they try something a little riskier, but it eventually pays off. We tend to think about past events as negative and that nothing good happens to us, but this little tricks shows how we stumble into a bit of luck along the way. Risk can range from the mundane to the edgy. It can be driving with the “No Gas” light on and yet arriving at the gas station before running out; or it can be asking the boss for a big promotion given your hardwork and output. At work, think of the little and big risks that somehow make you a tad luckier. Did you get to grab some great lunch and then were able to make it to the meeting after just in the nick of time? Did you (finally) voice your opinion on the new re-design—and colleagues liked your feedback? Be sure to note how lucky you really are.
3. Avoid data
Data. Data. Data. Everyone at work wants hard numbers, metrics, OKRs, and current events. After all, much of the world runs on data, right? So, how does one avoid it at work? Cut out the unnecessary information. Forget checking what’s trending on Twitter. You don’t need an update on your company’s stock price. Yes, you could focus on the data and information needed for your job and your job only. Though what’s more effective is to notice whether you and/or your team are moving towards the set goal; numbers help, yes, but always be attuned to the final project. Numbers only comprise a bit of the picture.
4. Help others
Some workplaces promote competition; if a company does not take, that can spiral into a toxic employee environment. The safeguard in promoting good will to colleagues—and one of the most important decisions you can make at work—lend a helping hand. Even on bad days, giving aid to a colleague has been proven to make you feel happier than if you had done something for yourself! This also works when volunteering. Join your company’s volunteer squad and reap the rewards. Generous behavior to others will make you feel good, even if you feel ambivalent about your work settings.
Another important decision you can make at work? Pick the best, no-stress absence management program. Er, like absence.io. Ok, we’re a bit biased, sure. But companies like MyTheresa and Check24, trust us for ease-of-use. Talk about a smart decision.