The daily grind. Burning the candle at both ends. A slave to the system. Most of us have heard these unfortunate expressions from time to time. All of these tend to be spoken by those who are not satisfied with (or even hate) their current job. Why are so many workers from all walks of life unhappy and what can be done to change this decidedly dismal trend? If you feel that you may be one of these souls, you will be very interested in what this article has to say.
The hidden shackles of self-imposed slavery
A survey conducted by employment firm Investors in People (IIP) found that an incredible 60 percent of all UK workers are unhappy with their current positions. One of the main reasons that this is the case can often be attributed to the fact that they feel "locked into" a specific role and that they are unable to make any real changes. Whether this arose as a result of feeling the need to make money or simply to find employment, such stagnation can quickly lead to feelings of being trapped.
A lack of recognition
Not every workplace rewards its employees for a job well done. In fact, some fail to recognize personal achievements whatsoever. This is often the case with larger corporations. Another issue is that once an employee achieves a specific target, he or she is expected to exceed this level in the future. This places an inordinate amount of pressure on the worker and burnout can often be the final result. We all like to be congratulated for excelling within a specific role. One in four people are looking for a new job because they don’t feel valued. Paul Devoy, the not-for-profit organization’s chief executive, said: ‘Thank you’, something so simple, so consistently important and potentially the best retention tool we’ve got.”
Going past the idea of sustaining and surviving
The expression that beggars cannot be choosers has always been true within the job market. Although initially obtaining a position may have been necessary to make ends meet, we soon realize that there is much more to life than financial satisfaction alone. Once the luster of a salary loses its shine, we can once again feel as if we are simply spinning our wheels.
Stuck in a pre-determined cycle
One of the reasons why the job market is frightening is that it represents an entrance into the real world. In order to ease this transition, some chose positions associated with pre-determined milestones and known credentials (much like the scholastic environment). The downside to this is that there might be very little excitement and once again, the "Monday blues" may engulf the entire workweek.
An uncomfortable working environment
Whatever industry or sector you work in, generally you and your colleagues are working towards a shared goal. Often this can lead to targets and deadlines. Some people thrive in these types of competitive environments and for some, it can lead to an unhealthy amount of stress and anxiety.
The IIP survey discovered that a staggering 3 out of 4 of the 12000 people surveyed felt stressed about work, with 64 percent reporting this workplace stress was negatively impacting their sleep patterns.
If set targets are unattainable, goalposts are being moved or the workload across the team seems unfair, this can lead to animosity amongst staff members. Lack of support or leadership from management can also be a defining factor in employee satisfaction.
What can be done?
There are several ways to avoid the situations mentioned above. Some of the most effective include:
Choosing a work environment that rewards employees for their efforts. There are many tools these days, such as Glassdoor, where current and former employees anonymously review companies. Of course, you will always find a few disgruntled people, but if you see a trend of controversial comments for 1 particular company, it may be worth giving them a wide berth,
Mentally segregating work from the rest of your life. This is easier said than done, especially in today's climate where a lot of work is being done remotely and the differentiation between home and work life is becoming blurred. Set an alarm and aim to get all tasks completed in that time. Leave work paraphernalia at work or in a particular section of the house and leave it until you start work again. Of course, there are times when work will run over but create better work-life habits.
It’s hard to be productive, successful, or professional without a healthy work-life balance, and for genuine happiness, that balance is essential.
Elaborating any concerns with management. - So many times, employees never voice their concerns until they are resigning and often this resignation can come as a shock. Make managers aware of stresses you are facing, or that you are dissatisfied with the lack of recognition, training or development. Often management will assume because employees haven’t complained they are happy, so don’t be afraid to speak up.
It is also a good idea to consider the physical metrics of the office. How long does it take you to travel to work every day? Are you forced to deal with hours of rush hour traffic? Does the office space itself feel cramped and uncomfortable? Many workers underestimate the impact that such variables can have upon how they perceive their job. There can be certain times when landing a similar role within an entirely different environment can make all of the difference in the world. Never be afraid to ask these questions, as they could provide you with the answers that you have been looking for. Being completely honest with yourself is the first necessary step towards finding a rewarding employment position. When you consider how many years we spend at work, (most of our life!!) you want to make sure these years can be as enjoyable as possible. If you are feeling unhappy, there is no harm in exploring other opportunities.
Identify transferable skills you may have and research what other positions are available? This could mean an entire career change. If the job you are interested in requires extra qualifications, consider enrolling in formal module learning (often available online, around work hours).
A US survey by Career Change Challenge found that 80% of people over 45 years of age consider changing their careers but only 6% actually do.
People over 50 who are unhappy often don’t want to rock the boat and decide they’ll hang on until retirement, but as the population lives longer, the age for hanging up our work attire is getting older and older.
“You’re a long time dead” so if work is causing you stress and unhappiness, it’s time to start dusting off the CV.
Clare Jones, content marketer and editor, London Office Space