On November 9, AH Jobs List will be holding a quarterly seminar entitled “The Reinvent Event.” This seminar will feature discussions on a vareity of career reinvention strategies. This event typically sells out, so make sure you register soon by clicking here.
Begin with the premise that you deserve to be happy at your job.
What does job satisfaction look like?
I’ve interviewed hundreds of people – both currently employed and job seekers – about workplace happiness.
A common response I get from many employees is that happiness is simply not part of their work equation. They have long ago lost the sense that work is supposed to be satisfying. “It’s called WORK for a reason,” one person told me. “I’ve always been told work is supposed to be hard and the greatest reward is getting to a point where you didn’t have to do any,” another joked.
Most people who share this depressing sentiment started their careers with different hopes – dreams of a fulfilling job and a satisfying career. But they reached a stagnant comfort level in their work routine. They performed their duties, they received their paycheck and they guarded their benefits but their only aspirations were to simply work as long as they could until retirement. They tried to keep out of the way of the inner-office politics, looked forward to the annual cost-of-living increase but didn’t aspire to more responsibility.
What happened to dampen their dreams and ambitions of a fulfilling work life?
One person told me they didn’t want to ‘rock the boat’ or felt that management simply rewarded high achievers with a bigger title and more work. “Who needs that?” I hear from one disenfranchised employee. “The harder I worker, the higher my misery index rises.” Others told me that they reached a perfect balance in that their job paid for the things in their life that were required: mortgage, kids, car, annual vacation, etc. While they might not be particularly happy or satisfied with their job, it fulfilled their responsibilities.
For many people, they may be in a toxic work environment – a dysfunctional work culture - but they’ve convinced themselves it is just too difficult and unrealistic to leave. “Better to have a rotten job for a terrible boss than no job at all,” is how one person put it.
But those who thrive at their jobs work in a carefully managed culture where they feel respected, fairly compensated, and are performing duties that are interesting and meaningful. People who are happy with their jobs tell me that their employers reflects their own values – the organization is ethical, the people they work have integrity and there is a true respect for the leadership and the vision of the organization.
Companies with hard-working, productive employees are also usually connected to a work culture that recognizes the benefits of a strong work/life balance and also rewards employees for exemplary achievements. In a work culture like this, the employee’s personal and professional ambitions are usually tied to the ambitions for the success of the company; they go hand-in-hand.
Those I’ve interviewed that are happy at their jobs tell me they don’t have any qualms with working hard – there is a sense of greater achievement working for an organization that they feel strongly connected to where there is a strong sense of purpose and direction.
So how do employees reinvent their happiness? If you are unhappy at your work, how do you reinvent your situation?
‘Find a New Job’ would be much too easy of an answer. I mean let’s face it, how many of us know people who have bounced around from one dysfunctional relationship to another? Or moved from city to city thinking if they change their city, their lives will be different only to find that in fact, the same misery they experienced in the last city they lived?
The same theory holds true with jobs. I’ve seen many resumes of people who have bounced from job to job with one excuse after another about a terrible boss, an unfair workplace or a toxic work environment. All legitimate reasons for leaving a job... but why are some people continually finding themselves in these situations?
The search for workplace happiness will really only come when you decide to do a serious personal introspection that matches up your requirements for job satisfaction and align those values with the type of company and the type of work you want to do.
It is not any easy process and requires complete honesty with yourself; and much like any major life change, requires an attitude shift and some reflection on what has been preventing you from achieving the happiness and work satisfaction you want.
Successful organizations recognize that in order to be successful, they also have to forge a genuine culture of employee satisfaction, camaraderie, vision and leadership. The goals a company sets for itself in the marketplace are only achievable through a strong internal culture that respects, empowers, rewards and encourages ambition and productivity in the workplace.
Last week’s interview on AH Jobs List with Buddy Ketchner, President of the Sterling Rice Group
(read the interview by clicking here), confirms that a company’s focus on this type of work culture is not only good for employee morale and productivity, but at its heart, it is a key to business growth and success.
Think about it. In our lifetimes, we spend more time at our places of work than with our families and friends. Our careers are intricately tied to our personal identities. It is not only possible, but it is NECESSARY to aspire to being satisfied with your work.