The one thing you can do to be happier and more successful at work

Do you want to feel less stressed and more productive, and be generally happier and more successful? Of course you do. Who doesn’t? Fortunately, there’s one thing you can do to make this all a reality:

Learn.

New research from LinkedIn has found that if you want to be happy at your job, you should spend more time learning. The study found that employees who spend time at work learning are less stressed, more productive, more successful, and happier than those who don’t. And, wrote Josh Bersin, an HR industry analyst who conducted the study with LinkedIn, “the more you learn, the happier you become.”

Bersin and LinkedIn conducted a large survey of 2,049 professionals, including freelancers and entrepreneurs, in the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Australia, India, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Respondents answered a series of questions about how they spend their time at work, and what drives their feelings of satisfaction at work.

According to CNBC, “heavy” learners — people who spend more than five hours a week doing things like reading, taking classes and watching online courses — reported being happier, less stressed, more productive and more confident than light to medium learners.

Overall when compared with “light” learners (those who spend less than an hour learning) heavy learners were:

  • 74% more likely to know where they want to go in their career
  • 48% more likely to have found purpose in their work
  • 47% less likely to be stressed at work
  • 39% more likely to feel productive and successful
  • 21% more likely to feel confident in their work
  • 21% more likely to be happy at work

Heavy learners see almost three times as many positive results as light learners says Bersin.

Medium learners – those who spend between one and five hours a week learning – were also happier than light learners, though not as happy as heavy learners.

“There is a clear relationship between time spent learning and a person’s career satisfaction, career prospects and general happiness,” Bersin is quoted as saying by CNBC. “People who either have the time or make the time to educate themselves are performing at higher levels.”

How many people were heavy learners? Only 7% of respondents said they spend five hours or more a week learning. Forty-seven per cent, meanwhile, are “medium” learners, spending 1-5 hours a week educating themselves, and 46% “light” learners, spending less than an hour a week.

Clearly most people would benefit from spending more time learning. But this can be difficult. Between work and life outside of work, things can already be stressful. Then there are the distractions of social media and email. And during non-work hours, the idea of tuning out and binge watching Netflix can be very appealing. But next time you have some downtime, consider using that time to learn something instead. Read an educational book or video, sign up for an online course, or watch a tutorial.

You’re unlikely to regret spending time learning, and if you can make a habit of it, it will improve your life as a whole.

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