10 February 2023

Finding meaning, fulfillment, and happiness at work. Is it even possible?

When we are happy at work, our lives feel better. It’s not just a common belief, but a scientifically proven fact. But are there ways to bring happiness to our work? We delve into this with Elena Krutova, our Chief People Officer, who seems to have found the formula for being happier at work—the formula we have all been looking for.

Well, I start with a difficult question.

What is the one thing we search for our whole lives but may never find? The thing that everyone on earth wants but not everyone seems to have."

No, it’s not money or fame. We are all looking for happiness! The search for happiness has been occupying the minds of human beings for generations and is behind most of our life decisions. As Aristotle said, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”.

And there is a logical and scientifically proven model on how to become happy in life by being fulfilled at work. Since you have visited our career site, you may be looking for a new opportunity that will make you happy. So I hope this post will be helpful for you.

Why at work? 

Assuming that we work from age 25 to 60, we work for a total of 8,050 days or 64,400 hours. With an average lifespan of 80 years, minus the time spent sleeping, it is about 30% of our lifetime or almost a third! So it’s understandable that we want to get more from our jobs than just the ability to pay the bills.

Four elements of true happiness at work

If we are lucky enough to love the company we work for, it may be because they pay a good salary, offer career development, and have an attractive benefits package. The things we in HR obsess over. But none of these things offer a sense of “true meaning.”

Scientific researchers found that a happy life and a meaningful experience often go hand-in-hand. Meaningfulness involves thinking about the past, present, and future—and the relationship between them.

Surprisingly (or not), scientists confirmed that our work can mean much more than just salaries and can be a source of stress, but also a source of joy and fulfillment. Science and philosophy agree that the meaning of life and work is perceptual.

There is no ultimate truth about how we find fulfillment: some things are important to some people, and not to others. In other words, we construct our own realities as a way of coping with this world.

Scientists conducted thousands of interviews, studies, and research, that resulted in 4 perceptual areas where people find meaning and happiness at work: 

  • Ourselves

  • Other people

  • Work context

  • Spiritual life

Each area consists of different elements. Let’s see how it can help us.


1. Our values define who we are. So it is important to find an organization that supports our convictions about what is right or wrong.

2. Our motivation to grow, achieve something big in our lives, and stay energized is directly connected to our jobs. And it is contagious to others.

3. Our beliefs may see our job as a “calling” not an obligation, but an essential part of our identity. If we believe that we work only for money, we significantly limit the resources to become happier.

Other people

1. Our family members who support us in any good or bad period of our lives. It is nice when our loved ones are engaged in corporate lives. And If our spouses believe we’re doing something big, it makes us feel valued.

2. Colleagues who share the same professional concerns and can help us deal with professional challenges. Science confirms: If we have a friend at work, someone we can talk to inside and outside the office, we are on our way to happiness.

3. Leaders who inspire us and shape our interpretation of work into being meaningful and valuable. When we recall someone who positively impacted our professional life, it probably makes us happy.

4. Working groups and communities. We all want to belong. It is a part of our DNA and a historical recipe for survival. Professional groups can contribute to our sense of belonging. If we belong to any of them, we are much happier than people who are not.

Work context

1. Organizational mission and vision are equally important as well. They give us a systematic explanation of “why” we work.

2. Monetary reward is, without a doubt, the main reason we go to work. Scientists agree on its importance but also say that money should not become an end in itself, but a tool for bringing meaning and happiness to people.

3. Social activities and after-work clubs can take social exchange to a new level, especially in situations of job relocation where there is no established social community.

4. Cultural characteristics. Our national culture shapes the way we view our careers. Having a strong cross-cultural perspective helps us see ways to integrate our work into our lives.

Spiritual life

Our career choices may echo a need to do something bigger than ourselves, so-called “transcendence”, or an “inner calling”. It is especially popular in health care or social service industries, but this spiritual area is applicable to any profession.

A person who has fully accomplished all 4 areas can truly experience:

  • Authenticity = I become my true self

  • Self-efficacy = I am useful and valued, and I believe in myself

  • Self-esteem = I am worthy

  • Purpose = I know why I live

  • Belongingness = I like being with these people, and I belong

  • Transcendence = I am doing something bigger than myself, and I make a difference

  • Cultural and interpersonal sense-making = I leave a heritage

And there you have it. The happiness formula we’ve been looking for. 

If you are ready to find your meaning and purpose and experience fulfillment at Exness, you are on the right path.

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