Yesterday was Labor Day, which I think is funny because it’s a day most of us spend not doing any work (hopefully!) But I did read something about work in the New York Times that I wanted to share. In this article, the authors highlight a study which “shows that Americans now feel worse about their jobs — and work environments — than ever before. People of all ages, and across income levels, are unhappy with their supervisors, apathetic about their organizations and detached from what they do.”
I don’t think you have to love your job all the time — and sometimes loving what you for work comes with consequences. But if you spend so much of your life working I do think you should get more out of it than just money and benefits. Plus, if you’re unhappy at work, it seeps into other parts of your life, a lesson I’ve learned first-hand, several times over.
So are you happy at work? If yes, then you’re probably feeling like your work is meaningful and you’re making progress, which, according to the authors of the article I mentioned, is the single largest contributor to work satisfaction. I manage a team at work and as I was reading the article I immediately started to run through my team members, thinking about whether I do a good job keeping them engaged and how they’d answer the question of whether they are happy at work. But that’s for another post.
But what if you’re not happy at work? If you have a terrible boss, or difficult colleagues, or work you don’t care much about? Do you just suck it up and focus on the positives — you know, the not-so-small things like salary and benefits — or do you try to change how things are?
I’m an optimizer by nature so if I’m unhappy I try to change things. This is probably why my resume is a page longer than it should be but it’s also why I do fee like I know what to look for in a job. And I don’t think job hopping is the only — or best — way to find happiness at work. For me, I find that not letting the daily stress overshadow the positives makes a big difference. Sometimes the positives have to do with the work itself but sometimes I think you have to appreciate things that are easy to take for granted: Being able to interact with nice/interesting/fun colleagues, learning new/interesting/challenging things or skills, or hey, putting on non-pajama clothes, grabbing your favorite latte and having 30 minutes just to yourself during your commute. The small things do count.
Are you happy at work? What is it about your work that you think makes you happy or unhappy?