If I’d had something better to do this morning, I would probably have let the headline go, but it is the middle of the summer holidays and most of my clients have gone AWOL. One sighting of a headline from Bloomberg (seriously?!) telling me ‘People start hating their jobs at age 35’ and a load of ‘It’s official’ and ‘#HatingWork’ baloney on Twitter and LinkedIn, and I was hooked. I mean, it got me on two of my soapboxes simultaneously: ageist media hype and how it’s just so cool to hate your job. Not.

Since when has happiness at work descended into a battle of the ages?

Perhaps because I am over 35, or just that I take something that has ‘research’ in the copy seriously, before reaching for my white charger and joining the fray I actually paused to read the report published by recruitment company, Robert Half. And I have to say it took me a while to find any commentary at all about the great age divide.

Featuring more prominently here was the difference in happiness ratings between employees in smaller and larger companies, in different roles and in different sectors. And the more insightful commentary from researchers and academics in the field on the conditions that make for happiness at work.

So instead of talking about the ticking clock, which nobody (not me, not you, and certainly not your employer) can do anything about, let’s look at what’s more helpful in the report, and is in our control.

Happiness at work – whether you are 16 or 60, an accountant or an administrator, lawyer or creative director – is derived from three major factors: being treated with fairness and respect; feeling appreciated; and having pride in your organisation. The ranking may shift from role to role and from place to place but these principles are universal. “Feeling good about the organisation that employs you is a big deal for employees,” the report says. “People who have pride in their work are three times as likely to be happy.”

I’ve spent the last few years identifying the factors that make people feel pride at work and am convinced that the positive impact is not only on happiness but personal and organisational performance as well. Whether we are employers or employees, the factors of pride are entirely achievable and we are all jointly responsible for creating workplace cultures where they are put into practice.

• For more information about creating pride in your work, visit or contact me at

You can pre-order a copy of Sheila’s book – ‘TAKE PRIDE: Building organisational success through people’ – at