cubicle_coach_job_satisfaction.jpg“Should I stay or should I go?” We ask ourselves this rhetorical question every once in a while when encountering moments at work that are utterly or partially incompatible with what we consider ideal or standard or what we signed up for in the first place. As we witness the movements in colleagues’ and peers’ employment and careers, some being pirated by multinational companies, others opting to try their luck overseas and still others, deciding to stay put where they are, there is always that moment of thinking the grass is greener on the other side…wherever that “side” may be.

Today, recruitment specialists observe and take note of resumes where job applicants jump from one employer to another after less than six months to one year of tenure. One wonders now if there is no sense of employee-employer loyalty anymore. The Japanese, for example, have been known to hold one or two jobs their whole lives. Is this form of allegiance now passé?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs dictates five levels of human necessities which directly affect one’s motivation and satisfaction. Employment is categorized under the second level, which addresses one’s need for safety and security. While the first level represents man’s basic needs in order to live, higher levels pertain to deeper needs. Let’s momentarily set aside and veer away from the compensation and benefits aspect of being gainfully employed and target these more complex levels. When and how can we feel comfortable, content, and finally, at home, in our place of work?

Find something you love to do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

First and foremost, take on a job which allows you to do what you are passionate about. There’s little else that will matter if this minimum criteria is satisfied. When you’re doing what you love, the work doesn’t feel quite as much like work as it would if you didn’t love it—and you might even carry a heavier load without getting quite so tired.

Align your personal values and mission to your employer’s.

The culture, vision and direction of your company should fit comfortably with what you believe in and with where you can visualize yourself in five or ten years’ time. Furthermore, belief in the products and/or services of your company is important so you can confidently and personally attest their quality. If you can honestly claim that you are proud to be part of the team and the higher purpose of your employer or company, then say hello to many fulfilling Christmas parties and annual planning seminars with that team.

Find your niche.

Each employee has his or her own unique strengths and work style. If your employer allows you to express and use your unique talent in the workplace, you create your own niche. Your personal touch or devised system is something that you contribute uniquely to your circle of influence, crafting your own brand of leadership, individuality, and contribution. If implementing a small-scale waste segregation scheme at the canteen is an idea you pushed for and are given authority to execute, this is a small step toward building your own legacy within the company. This is a niche you find and create for yourself—one that will make people and the organization remember you, and one from which you will draw fulfillment.

Seek continuous improvement.

The need for growth is innately human. And while companies should provide opportunities for development, learning is a joint responsibility between the organization and the employee.  Adults are self-directed learners, and as such, you are empowered and in the position to design your path to more learning. As soon as you feel a hint of boredom or monotony in your role or area of responsibility, actively ask for more challenges, a new project, or a cross-posting assignment. Make the most out of your performance appraisals and performance discussions to partner with your immediate superior in getting the training you need to explore and develop the skills are interested in. These send your employer the message that you want to learn while giving back to the organization.

Get with the gang at work.

Turnover of employees is often attributed to office politics or due to friction and misunderstandings with one’s boss. This emphasizes the importance of building good rapport as well as healthy professional competition with colleagues. Investing in the emotional bank accounts of our co-workers as well as our superiors by sincerely learning more about their personal lives and sharing yours helps sew the seeds of mutual respect and makes working with each other a more pleasant and an even enjoyable experience. Likewise, it transforms workplace relationships into lasting friendships even when employment with the company ceases.

Maintain a semblance of work-life balance.

If you work hard, then you must reward yourself with the luxury of playing hard as well. Allow yourself time to relax, unwind, and recharge after a hard day or week at the office. Putting in 12 hours of work daily even on weekends to be able to claim overtime pay or because there’s just too heavy a workload to deal with is a sign that calls for a change in perspective. Keeping this overly intensive work ethic for long is a definite recipe for burnout. After all, we work so we can live—it doesn’t work the other way around. If need be, set some norms with your colleagues and your boss such as “No work-related calls and text messages after 9:00 PM.” If you and your colleagues are all overworked, it may be time to hint to your boss that you may need additional people on your team or to reorganize and reprioritize a bit. Having a pastime outside of work is also a healthy balancing agent.

There are many job satisfaction factors, such as job security, recognition, workload, challenge, and autonomy. All these help make you comfortably at home at work. Hopefully, these tips will help you deal with the feeling of dread when Mondays come around or the feeling that our company ID leis are about to strangle us. It’s time to get back to the point where you’re consistently bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when you start work in the morning.

(Photo © Marvin)
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