What does workplace satisfaction look like?
In a time where job applications can feel like a sport and actually getting a fulfilling position more like a steep, solo marathon, it’s easy to understand why people end up in positions they aren’t meant for at companies that they don’t like. Whether you have been adopting a ‘later it will be better’ attitude, are actively in search for a new job or even self-employed, there are a number of questions to ask yourself to ensure you find workplace satisfaction – after all, it’s very likely you are spending the majority of your waking day at work. Shouldn’t it be a happy place?
Well, yes. But whether or not happiness should be the most important factor you consider is less clear. It is almost impossible to predict from an online advertisement or an interview whether a position might make you happy. Sometimes a management change, a new competitive co-worker or a demanding client will affect your happiness. There will be times when even the best of jobs gets you down. But bear in mind: happiness and satisfaction are not the same thing.
“Ultimately, the process of finding contentment in what you do is just that – a process”
Satisfaction seems somehow a rounder word and more about longevity, growth, fulfilment, freedom and connections than about particular moments of happiness. Ideally, we might all have jobs we love, mentors who help us grow and cool workplaces that honour the life side of the work-life balance (and who can forget a big pay cheque?) The truth seems to be, however, that a job is rarely all these things at once. Still, it is possible to find greater satisfaction in firstly recognizing this fact and identifying what is key for you now and what will become key for you in the future. It’s a personal matter.
For me, it is absolutely crucial that if you don’t enjoy your job you at least have time to enjoy what you do like outside of work. If you are truly working at a job where the only satisfaction you can garner is the hope of future happiness (when you make partner, when you secure that funding, when you get bought out) it’s time for a change. The same goes for your salary being the only light at the end of the tunnel. But finding satisfaction is not so black and white and requires introspection, weighing of options and ultimately reliance on intuition.
Here are some questions to ask yourself
1 – Do you see yourself growing whether in the long or short term, personally or professionally, where you are?
I’ve had jobs where the work was certainly menial but out of which I’ve maintained lasting friendships. I’ve also had jobs that haven’t made me happy but have forced the development of important and enduring life skills.
2 – Do you work in an environment that fosters your ambitions?
Perhaps your workplace isn’t ready for your new idea but are you encouraged to bring your ideas forward at all? Are you comfortable talking to your team? Do you share at least some of the same goals?
3 – Are you making use of the resources available to you?
Sometimes there is a lot to be found and learned outside of your main tasks. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your position and take advantage of opportunities.
Ultimately, the process of finding contentment in what you do is just that – a process. If you answered in the negative to these questions, perhaps it is time to recalibrate and try something new. Whether that’s sending out a next round of applications or simply adjusting your perspective and actively seeking out new sources of satisfaction, you can expect a pay off.
While it’s not an easy feat, take comfort – no one has ever regretted running a marathon.