Job satisfaction often comes down to a variety of factors, many of them personal and not always linked to what you get paid. In fact, in a recent survey of 1,000 workers by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), three out of five people rated enjoyment of their job as their main motivator at work. So if you find yourself dreading the start of your working day, what other factors could be at work? And how do you get your motivation back?
We all have days when we would rather be doing anything than the job we’re currently doing. Sometimes changing companies simply isn’t an option for whatever reason, but that doesn’t mean you have to be condemned to a life of misery during working hours. There are steps you can take to increase your job satisfaction and improve your outlook on your career.
As with all problems, if you routinely feel bored, frustrated and generally unsatisfied with your job it pays to nip it in the bud. If you sink into wallowing in negative feelings without taking any action, it could lead to even worse problems such as serious mistakes at work, perhaps job loss or even mental illness.
If this sounds dramatic, just think of how much time you spend at work... If you’re spending most of your working day feeling anxious, tense or depressed this can have a serious effect on your mental wellbeing.
Knowing what is important to you and what isn’t will be half the battle in becoming happier in what you do.
If you’re struggling, try to list what you realistically want out of your job. Make a list of your expectations from your work life and assign them a priority. Your list could include: money, autonomy, job security, a good work/life balance, interesting and engaging tasks, a good working relationship with your boss/co-workers, etc. This will give you a starting point; identifying your goals is the first step towards attaining them.
Whilst you want to be as happy as possible in your job, bear in mind that it’s almost impossible to have 100% job satisfaction all the time. There will always be bad days, but there are things you can do to make sure that the good days outnumber the bad.
The maxim “work to live, don’t live to work” is trite but true; although your work is undoubtedly important to you, it shouldn’t take over your life. If there are things that you want to do or achieve in your personal life but feel you can’t because of your work commitments, you may have to look at redressing that balance.
Take up a new hobby, make a promise to see friends more or get involved with local societies or groups. Similarly, you may want to ask yourself if there might be any issues in your personal life that are crossing over and having an impact on how you perceive your work life.
Take on training
If you are feeling like you’re stuck in a rut, acquiring new technical and personal skills are a good way to feel as though you are making progress with your career. Think about skills that you would like to develop and talk to your employer about any internal or external courses you could take in order to develop further. Your employer should recognise that an engaged employee is more valuable to the business than one who doesn’t wish to progress and, at the very least, it will get you noticed.
Whether or not you think you’re being paid a fair wage is likely to impact on how much you feel appreciated and thus how satisfied you are in your job. If you feel you aren’t being paid fairly for the job you’re doing, you will need to present your employer with a business plan for giving you a pay rise – remember that they won’t give you something for nothing, so make sure you have a good case and do your preparation before you go into the meeting.
It’s good to talk
Clearly telling your boss that you’re fed up isn’t a good idea, but bear in mind that it is in their interests to make sure that you’re as motivated as possible to do your job to your best ability and can may be able to help by arranging training, giving you more autonomy or simply by discussing and identifying your career path to give you something to work towards.
The numbers: job satisfaction*:
- 59% of employees interviewed said that enjoyment of their role was one of their top three motivators, making it the single most effective motivator overall.
- 42% of workers are motivated by how well they get on with their colleagues, 22% by how they are treated by their managers and 22% by how much control they have over their work.
- 49% said they were motivated by how much they are paid, but performance-related bonuses were considerably less effective as a motivator, with just 13% choosing it as one of their top three most important motivators.
- Flexible working and opportunities for promotion were not viewed as being strong motivators, with only 16% and 9% of workers respectively, rating them as important.
- For women, enjoying their job is the most important motivator (64% chose it as one of their top three), followed by ‘how well I get on with people’ (44%) and base salary (41%), while men chose base salary and benefits (58%) as the most important factor, then enjoying their job (53%) and how well they get on with colleagues (41%).
*Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) survey May 2013