Are you happy in your job?

14 March 2016

Thinking about job satisfaction

Do you feel a pang of jealousy when a friend proclaims how much they love their job? Do you count down the hours, minutes and seconds until the weekend and dread every Monday morning? While these signs clearly point to job dissatisfaction, dealing with the situation is not as straightforward as simply handing in your notice and walking into a new job. After all, making a rash decision before identifying the true issues could leave you back at square one, with all the same frustrations as before.


The importance of job satisfaction


Dissatisfaction with your job in the short-term can cause you to feel frustrated, bored and pretty miserable. If these feelings progress long-term, frustration can turn to anger and irrationality, boredom can lead to detachment and lethargy, and what started out as you feeling a little glum, could lead to the kind of depression that has a serious impact on your life.

We spend the majority of our waking hours at work. Whatever you do, and at whatever level, your job should not make you feel upset, angry or depressed, at least not for longer than the ten minutes it takes to cool down after dealing with that particularly difficult customer. Such emotions are not good for your well-being, and can affect your life and relationships if you bring the bad feelings home. Thinking altruistically, constant low moods are also unlikely to be helpful to your colleagues or your employer.

Though we perhaps can’t get all that we truly want from a job – we might all wish to be billionaires retiring by 40 having done nothing but bat an eyelid, but we have to be somewhat realistic – we can aim to have a job that is rewarding, and one that makes us feel satisfied that we are making the best use of our skills and intellect.


Identifying the problem


Before placing all the blame for your unhappiness on your job, think things through and be honest with yourself. Try to identify exactly what aspects of your life and work are making you feel unhappy. Is it definitely just your job or have you had personal issues that play on your mind and affect how you feel at work? More importantly, can you identify whether you are unhappy about an aspect of the particular job you’re currently in, or the type of work you do?

If you love the type of work that you do, then run through your working day from start to finish and think about which parts you enjoy, and which you don’t.


Location, location, location


Do you get ready for work in a rush and have to contend with busy and often-delayed public transport? Do you happily relax on the train with a good book, or do you sit panicking in a traffic jam every morning? The location of your job and how you travel there does matter.

If you hate long, busy journeys, then perhaps you need to think about working closer to home, or somewhere that can be reached with a less arduous journey. If you already work long hours, then a long commute will be knocking your work/life balance off-kilter, so while it might be worth it in the short-term for a fantastic job, continuing this lifestyle long-term will mean your home life and relationships can suffer. Having enough spare time to properly relax, and quality time with your family and friends, can make a huge impact on your happiness and well-being.


Colleagues: friends or enemies?


You clearly need to think about what happens between working hours, too. Do you get on with your boss and your colleagues? You don’t all have to be best friends, but even the tiniest hint of antagonism from colleagues or superiors can play on your mind. And if there are any issues with co-workers, can they be addressed? Though you may not feel that you are the root of the problem, being the one to instigate a reconciliation may be a compromise that’s worth the effort.


Clashing cultures


If the issue is actually more to do with the culture of the company itself, rather than individuals, then you may have to face the fact that, unless you are part of the senior management team, you might not be the person who can actuate change. If there are issues in your organisation and you can see ways of making a positive difference, then you could speak to a colleague in HR or operations who may be able to take your ideas further. But, don’t take it upon yourself to try and change an entire company’s ethics, as you will probably only be giving yourself more to worry about.


Is it the job, or how you manage it?


If you love the team you work with, but still end up feeling drained at the end of every day, then look at your working patterns. Do you take regular breaks, and when you’re on them, do you actually stop working and relax? If your lunch hour consists of rushing around town shopping, or eating while checking your emails and paying bills, you probably won’t be taking enough time to recharge before the afternoon shift.

Don’t take on more work than you can manage. Don’t volunteer to take on a struggling colleague’s duties if you’re already too busy with your own, and be honest with your manager if they ask how busy you are. If you want to try and progress within your organisation, or increase your earnings, then doggedly working away might not be the best method to get your ambitions recognised. Speak to your boss about what opportunities exist, and exactly what you have to do to be considered for promotion or a pay rise.


Time for a change


If, after thinking through all of this you finally realise that it’s not where you work, it’s that you no longer enjoy the type of work you do, then don’t panic. Changing your entire career may seem incredibly daunting, but try and look at it as a positive change. It may be hard work, but if you manage to switch to a career path that takes you somewhere that makes you happy long-term, it will definitely be worth it. And many skills are transferrable. Your job may be mainly clinical, but you might also be skilled in sales and customer service, which can be applied to many other industries. If certain areas of clinical work attract you, there are plenty of training courses out there that you can choose to undertake yourself, to start retraining.

Life is too short to spend months, or even years, in a job or career that makes you unhappy. Don’t waste your time, but try not to make any rash decisions. Try and be sure about what is getting you down before you risk burning any bridges. With the right plan in mind, you’ll be able to make your current job work better for you, or find a new role that becomes your career for life.


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