Job Satisfaction: How To Feel Good About What You Do
In the Beginning
So it starts when you have either graduated from college, or are about to graduate. You’ve been doing your career research and come across many websites and articles dedicated to the topic of “Job Satisfaction”. Naturally, you ask yourself ‘what is job satisfaction and why is it so important’. Some of these articles are written in an academic style, and it’s hard to make out what they actually mean—in between the quotes from Aristotle, Emerson and Buddha.
Your choice in a job, or a career, can seem like a very daunting task; it feels like you’re cementing your life’s path in an unchangeable way.
But that’s one of the first things to keep in-mind actually; if you find yourself unsatisfied with one job, you can indeed start searching, and find, another one that you think is a better fit.
It might sound silly to elaborate on what job satisfaction means, but there are some aspects of it that one might not conclude on their own. I know it took me some time and a few jobs to get a better feel on what that satisfaction really is.
So what is it?
The Basics of Job Satisfaction
In its simplest form, ‘Job Satisfaction” means you love your job, or the circumstances around it. There are two types of job satisfaction: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic Job Satisfaction means the tasks that make up your job:
- data entry,
- making phone calls,
- Discussing and solving problems with your co-workers.
Extrinsic job satisfaction refers to the factors surrounding the job:
- Workplace conditions
As you’ve learned, nobody leads a perfect life. It’s rare to get both intrinsic and extrinsic job satisfaction. You may love your work, but the pay is low. On the other hand, you may have landed a high paying job, but are only in it for the salary—you want to pay off your student loan debt, and then take the job of your dreams. In either case, you need job satisfaction to get through the day and live a well-adjusted life.
You Need Job Satisfaction
Job Satisfaction is a must; part of living a balanced life. When you were a student, you could get through the tough courses, or hard times by making the best of it. There were other aspects that made you happy, and that made the struggle easier.
If you hate your job, and let the hatred fester, it grows into a huge problem. Negative emotions spread like a virus or infection—contaminating your job and co-workers. Stress has a way of spilling over into your entire life-you’ll be fighting with lovers and friends, drinking or eating too much. Eventually it could cost you to lose your job. Job Satisfaction can help you make the best of things.
How to Get Job Satisfaction
The first step is to know yourself. Self-knowledge requires ruthless self-assessment. If you select a job, or focus on a job hunt that is beyond your capabilities, you won’t have job satisfaction and in the long run, you probably won’t have a job.
- Be realistic. Don’t take a job in the accounting department if your communication skills are stronger than your computational skills.
- Look at your strong points, and try to select a job that uses them.
- Be honest. Never take a job because it makes your parents or career counselor happy. Take the job that makes you happy. It’s better than a lifetime of regret.
Help Me: I hate my job.
You don’t need advice about job satisfaction if you love every aspect of your job. You do need help if you hate the job. Don’t quit, or brood about the job until you become known as the office malcontent. Those are the first people cut when the manager has to lay off workers. There are a few things you can do to improve the situation.
- Once again, be honest. Do you hate the job itself? If you do, then it is time to change careers. Start networking, and call your Career counseling office—why pay for advice when you can get it for free?
- Are you in a love/hate relationship? You love your work, but hate the office politics, or the management policies? The first step is to talk to your supervisor. If he or she is reasonable, you might be able to negotiate better conditions. Suppose your manager is a few fries short of a happy meal? Look for work in another company. It’s far easier to find a job when you are employed.
When Life Gives You Lemons
It’s your first job out of college, and you’re struggling to master the job, and fit into the office. There are times when you’d love to quit. On the other hand, this job could be the best way to pay off much of that student loan debt. You are the only one who can decide if it is better to stay put, learn the job and make the best of it. Here are a few coping mechanisms.
- Look at the bigger picture: you are gaining skills and acquiring experience. Remember how hard it was to get a job when you ‘lacked experience’. Try to get some pleasure from the learning process.
- Satisfaction is the one gift you can give yourself. Nobody can take it from you—it is something within your control.
- Once you build a positive attitude, the negative aspects of your job won’t seem as overwhelming—they may decrease with time and patience.
- Try to create some variety in the job. Most people need variety to keep things fresh and interesting. Chefs will change a recipe. If something about your job bothers you, try to vary your routine. By doing so, you may increase your productivity, and create some harmony in the office.
Develop a Sense of Purpose
Try to see some meaning in your job. If you just live from pay check to paycheck, you won’t get much fulfillment from your work. On the other hand, if you do your job with resolve and persistence, it leads to having work/life balance.
- It’s easier to tolerate a boring job if you find some meaning behind it; even if you just do it to pay off student loans
- You are learning new job skills
- Cultivate office friendships: they can be a source of future job leads.
- Give your new job at least one year; it looks better on a resume.
- When you value your work, you will value yourself, and so will others.
The Tao of Job Satisfaction
Job Satisfaction is like finding enlightenment. You have to take inventory of your character-the strengths and weaknesses. Then, you apply that knowledge to the workplace. This is a fluid concept: it can be adapted to meet the circumstances and your needs.
You may not like your job, but you can still take satisfaction in the work you do. For one thing, it’s going to ease your negative emotions, and give you positive energy. A good manager will notice your positive energy as quickly as they notice negative energy and performance. If you do routine work with a positive attitude, good things will happen:
- You will meet assigned deadlines
- Department productivity increase
- Profits increase when productivity rises
- You may earn a bonus or promotion
If you cling to a negative viewpoint, there is a good chance that
- Your work performance will suffer
- You may develop stress related illnesses
- These illnesses could affect your attendance and your health
- You might get fired, and it is hard to find a job if you are fired ‘for cause’
- If fired for cause, you could lose unemployment and COBRA benefits.
Life is complicated, and your job may not fit into any one category. Remember, that you are dealing with human beings who bring their own emotional issues into the office. A positive outlook, one that goes hand in hand with job satisfaction, will help you navigate through the obstacles.
Your co-workers and manager are a part of the job satisfaction picture. Don’t count on them all being good, trustworthy people. They are people, and people have quirks. Most people bring their emotional baggage to the office, and don’t hesitate to unload it on co-workers. Spotting those people, and learning to work around them will help you get fulfillment. (It’s like driving around a pot hole, rather than hitting it).
Here are a few tips
- Keep your mind open and your mouth shut. There may be a few odd balls in the office-if the oddball happens to be your manager, work with him, and do not put your opinions of him/her on social media.
- Don’t trust people. Many managers have a ‘tattle-tail’ in the ranks. If you, as a new/junior employee broadcast your opinions, it is going to get back to your boss, and ‘it won’t end well’.
- Discretion is the better part of valor. Henry VIII once said ‘If my cap knew my counsel, I would throw it into the fire”. ( He preferred to throw wives to the executioner) All the same, it’s good advice. Keep your opinions to yourself, unless your boss asks for them in a work related context.
If you follow these rules, you will stay out of trouble, and that is a measure of job satisfaction. Unless you are a lunatic, you won’t experience job satisfaction if you are in hot water. Keeping things comfortable is necessary if you want to be happy at your job.
Evolution or Revolution?
This is your first post collegiate job, and you are not all that thrilled with it. The question becomes should you continue, or look for another job? You have to get at the root of your discontent, and then decide what to do. It’s not like college, where you can drop a class, or take an incomplete if you don’t like it. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you hate the job, or the work environment? If you dislike the job, then it’s time to look at your options, and consider another career. On the other hand, if you enjoy the work, but not the environment, put up a fight for it.
- By talking to your supervisor, and brining up issues that affect productivity, you might get noticed in a good way. Just make certain that your presentation is organized, and reasonable. This is an office, not kindergarten, where you fight because S won’t share the purple crayon.
Although you don’t realize it, job satisfaction is part of your life journey. Buddha once said that a person’s work was to discover their work, and do it as well as possible. In other words, it builds character—an old fashioned concept but a valuable one. You’ve heard of the phrase ‘work/life balance’? You don’t get that balance without job satisfaction. Fulfillment at work leads to fulfillment outside of work, just as unhappiness at home is going to affect your job performance. Living a balanced life requires that you keep things in balance.