The Meaning of Happiness

As part of office team building at OCC-IC, we occasionally discuss podcasts or news items relating to trade or commerce generally. One of these podcasts we discussed was called "Brown Box."

The podcast talked about the experience of Amazon workers in an Amazon fulfillment center. As I listened to the podcast, I thought about Fern, the Amazon warehouse worker in the movie "Nomaland." She worked in a big warehouse, searching, packing, moving things, without much of a break in-between.

As we talked about the limited amount of gratification and happiness that Amazon workers derive from their jobs, a question was posed to the group—What does happiness mean for Amazon warehouse workers? Would paying them a lot more than what they currently earn make them happy?

I didn't think so. What keeps the workers from being happy is the lack of acknowledgment from their job rather than money. They interact daily with machines, and the only thing these machines do is keep count of how fast they are doing their job and whether they are taking a lunch break exceeding the 29-minute mark. In many ways, their experience reminds me of the experience of a lawyer. Lawyers count and bill their time by the minute. In turn, they are evaluated by their billable hours during their end-of-year reviews. If they meet their mark, they get bonuses. If they fail to meet their mark, then they will likely get booted.
At the end of the day, you are not getting paid to feel happy. You are getting paid to get the job done. So how do you feel happy in a job? Is it about lowering your expectations, or is it about getting more benefits from a job that contributes to happiness?