Unhappy on the Job? Here’s What You Can Do

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exhausted businessman covering his head with his laptopNearly one in five Americans report that they are dissatisfied with their job. At least that’s the data according to recent research by Rasmussen College. More than half of the 2,000 U.S. adults surveyed between February 2014 and March 2014 reported that they don’t have significant growth opportunities in their current positions.

The survey also revealed that nearly two-thirds of participating workers have considered quitting their job. The reasons?

-Don’t receive enough compensation (51 %)
-Lack of advancement opportunities (31 %)
-Being unfilled (26 %)
-Too stressful (24%)
-Not using their education or skills (21 %)

If you’re dissatisfied with your current working situation, you’ll inevitably slip into disengagement, which quickly leads to overall unhappiness. And what worker wants to commit 8+ hours each day to a role he or she doesn’t enjoy? I can’t think of anyone who fits that bill.

So, if you’re finding your job less than desirable, don’t panic; all hope is not lost. Margaret H. Greenberg and Senia Maymin, Ph.D., Live Happy  columnists and authors of the business book Profit from the Positive: Proven Leadership Strategies to Boost Productivity and Transform Your Business, have teamed up to help you and the myriad amount of people who have found themselves in similar circumstances.

Below are four steps from (and written by) Greenberg and Maymin to help you identify and assess unhappiness on the job, and transform it into the opposite:

“What makes you stay?” Is it really the job itself that you dislike, or is it something else? A toxic boss or colleagues who don’t pull their weight? Maybe you don’t feel valued or you’re not being compensated fairly? Maybe your work schedule has become all-consuming? Make a list of whatever you dislike, and then make another list of what makes you stay. Ask yourself, “What makes me stay in a job I’m not happy with?” Are there really compelling reasons for why you stay in a job you hate, or are you playing it safe?  To bust through the inertia, identify just one small change you can make that will have the biggest, most positive impact on your work life.

Play to your strengths. When we don’t like our job, it is very likely that we are not playing to our strengths. Sometimes we’re not even aware of our strengths or we take them for granted. A simple way to uncover your strengths is to ask yourself, “What kinds of work really energize me?” The flipside is to ask yourself, “What kinds of work sap my energy?”

Now go ask three trusted colleagues, “What do I do best?  What’s a story of me at my best at work?” Then try to use those strengths as much as possible in your current job. First of all, you’ll be happier.  Secondly, you’ll be curating your resume more toward those things you enjoy doing when it comes to a next job.

Dabble. Professor Herminia Ibarra of INSEAD Business School has found that people who dabble in other areas of work have an easier time making a transition to a new line of work. For example, if your company has employee resource groups (ERGs) related to an area you are passionate about, such as technology, women in leadership, diversity, community service, or wellness in the workplace, get involved. Not only will you get to do work in an area that interests you, but you’ll expand your network. You’ll be exposed to people in your company who can also provide career advice and support. No ERGs? No problem. Volunteer in a different area, department, or on a project. Get involved; don’t wait to be asked to the dance.

Job craft. If you have a good relationship with your boss, have a talk with him or her. Talk about your strengths and ask what he/she sees as your strengths. Do what you see and what he/she sees align? Also talk about areas, projects, or work where you would like to gain more exposure. Work together to craft your job to fit closer to your strengths and professional goals.

By Shala Marks