Last week I wrote an article detailing the step by step process you can follow to develop a plan for creating your perfect career. I even provided a worksheet to help walk you through the process in an easy to follow way. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about job satisfaction. What it means, how to get it and most importantly – how to keep it. It’s nice to map out what it takes for you to create that ideal job for yourself, but what factors should you pay attention to as you decide which role will actually be the right one for you? I thought it would be a good idea to detail everything you need to know about job satisfaction here, so that if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t enjoy what you do for work, you’ll know what to look for when you’re deciding on a new gig.
What Does Job Satisfaction Mean?
There are a lot of text book definitions of what job satisfaction means, but I like to think of it as the answer to one simple question: How happy am I to get out of bed and go to work every morning? This is a crucial question to ask yourself because whether or not you are fulfilled with your job has a huge impact on your overall happiness and success.
To get the real answer to this question, you should look at your feelings toward your job as an average, overall concept. No matter what job you have, there will be times you don’t feel like getting out of bed (even Beyoncé has days she’d rather stay home than go to work), so don’t use one bad (or good) experience to determine your entire outlook on your career.
What Factors Affect Job Satisfaction?
Your level of satisfaction with your job doesn’t boil down to one single thing. There are a combination of factors that all come together to determine how you feel about what you do for work. Some of these factors are obvious, but others are more subtle. Both types, however, are a big deal and contribute to how you feel about going in to work every day.
The most common factors that affect job satisfaction are:
- Work Environment:Is your office space cramped, dark, or overcrowded? You spend so much time at work every week so being in an atmosphere that helps you feel productive and calm goes a long way toward your satisfaction.
- Career Advancement:How clearly are you able to see a path available for you to move up at your company? Does your company provide opportunities for you to learn new skills and take advantage of continuing education opportunities? Employees are more satisfied when they feel they know what it takes to develop their careers.
- Stress Level:Anyone who’s had a workload that’s too heavy, strict deadlines and an inflexible schedule; knows far too well that this does not inspire job satisfaction. Every job has some level of stress, but when this stress rise to unmanageable levels, it’s only a matter of time until you burn out.
- Your Coworkers:Working side by side with individuals who you don’t like and/or don’t treat you with respect is not an ideal working situation. One of the most important factors for determining job satisfaction is the social aspect of your job.
- Your Boss:When your supervisor recognizes your accomplishments, allows you to voice your concerns and values your opinion, work is more enjoyable. When the opposite is true, it’s not.
- Your Pay:Feeling that you’re being paid fairly and in proportion to your contributions is a huge deal. Besides disrespectful coworkers and an unreasonable boss, feeling underpaid is the top reason people are not satisfied at work.
What Should You Do If You’re Not Satisfied With Your Job?
It would be simple for me to say “just leave” if you’ve gone through each of the factors that affect job satisfaction and realize that you are unsatisfied with your job. But you and I both know that’s easier said than done. The best way to tackle this issue is to approach it in 2 steps.
Step 1: Look for ways to improve the situation at your current job. There will always be ways for you to make lemonade out of your career lemons. Before you go looking for another job, it is wise to make the one you already have more bearable by improving upon some of the things that are in your control. You never want to be in a situation where you’re so blinded by unhappiness that you become desperate in your search for a new opportunity.
Step 2: Map out what your ideal job looks like (using this worksheet) and once you’re clear, begin the process of looking for new opportunities. Remember, you are looking for a job that will set you up to maintain job satisfaction long term. Be sure to measure each opportunity against the satisfaction factors above to ensure you are making the right choice. There are a lot of red flags during the interview process that people ignore because they’re so anxious to leave their current job (again, this is why it’s important to make your current job as bearable as possible while you do your search).
Although the ultimate goal is to love what you do, for various reasons, this isn’t always the case for every person. What should be non-negotiable though, is the level of satisfaction you have with your job. Think about it – this is the place you spend 1/3 of your life and you are only hurting yourself by continuing to be in a situation that makes you unhappy. Now that you know what to look for, it’s up to you to make sure you get it.