Change Work June 2012

Job satisfaction survey reveals our fears

Will worrying about the economy make it better?  Some people are saying that we need to do the opposite of what most of us are trying to do: we should be spending rather than saving. Individuals can get out of financial trouble by saving for a while and spending later, but if everyone tries to do this at the same time it brings the whole system to a standstill because "my spending is your income", and vice versa.

So, if you've got a job, carry on as though there's no recession!

Well, I see the logic in this argument but still feel the need to be cautious.  Who's going to stick their neck out and deliberately go against the trend?  Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to the results of a survey from the USA that say that "job security" is currently the most important determinant of job satisfaction.  Which implies that the fear of losing what we have spoils our enjoyment of that very thing!  And this may be true in all aspects of life - but work is the big one and often the area that feels the most insecure.  You're at the mercy of decisions made by others, perhaps by people you don't even know, and you don't have to be paranoid to feel a bit uncomfortable!

When events that matter to you are beyond your control you experience stress.  But you can never be in total control - there are always going to be unpleasant surprises and disappointments.  What's important is how well equipped you are - emotionally as well as practically - to deal with life's slings and arrows.

Coming a very close second in the list of satisfaction factors is "opportunity to use skills and abilities".  So, being forced to do a job that's somehow beneath you is a cause of dissatisfaction (even if it pays the bills), but I wonder if this is also a sign that people are sensing the opportunities being wasted by our collective belt-tightening.  And it surely is a waste not to use your skills and abilities - the things you've invested heavily in to develop.

Other factors in the top five contributors to job satisfaction were:

3rd equal: Organization's financial stability - obviously critical to security, but maybe also affecting feelings about the intrinsic value of what you're doing.  (Company in trouble = nobody wants products or services = waste of time.)

3rd equal: Relationship with immediate supervisor - this person has a huge influence on your day-to-day experience.  They can undermine you without knowing they're doing it. They may be poorly equipped to manage other people and can be the critical factor in developing a healthy, positive set of beliefs about work, for example, knowing you're valued.

4th: Compensation/pay - the ultimate expression of value?

5th equal: Benefits - contributing to a comfortable life, makes the job worth keeping.

5th equal: Communication between employees and senior management. (Not listened to = not valued.)

5th equal: The work itself - maybe the most important motivator.  You need to be doing something you enjoy and that you believe to be important.

Society for Human Resource Engagement 2011 (USA)

Do you ever find yourself saying, "I'd really enjoy this job if only ..."?

Dissatisfaction can grow from a vague feeling of unease to a critical tipping point where you start to think, "I can't do this any more.  Something's got to change!"

Do you look for another job or do you confront your boss with your complaints?  Or do you feel that you can't do either of these things?

One way out of this hole is simply to take a different perspective. If you see yourself as someone who does the right thing and tries to improve things, in however small a way, then you will feel better.  Much better than playing the victim who can only wait for other people to stop doing bad things.

Once you've taken the initiative then other, more direct actions follow more easily.  Doors open, ideas pop up and you discover people who can help you.

So, if your job's getting you down, I hope you can take the first step towards making it better.

Meanwhile, has anyone got Angela Merkel's email?