Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Job Satisfaction and Happiness

CNN Money as well as John Tesh's "Intelligence for your life" has recently been posting a lot of articles about how Job Satisfaction effects job performance and general happiness. I've compiled what seems to be the recurring themes in them as I attempt to apply these lessons to my life.

"If you're really happy at work, you'll be 180% happier with life overall, have 180% more energy, and be at least 50% more productive than your least happy colleagues," says Pryce-Jones, who also is CEO of iOpener, an HR consulting firm based in Oxford, England.

"Happy couples talk about what happens at work, even if it's 'boring' or unpleasant," she says. "For years, the conventional wisdom was, 'Leave work at work!' But it's a huge part of your spouse's world, so why not make an effort to understand what's happening there?" Just allowing him to vent -- without chiming in with urgings to get another job -- may ease a lot of the pressure he's feeling.

There is also research showing that low job satisfaction lowers productivity so you and your boss may want to know what can be done.

1) Exercise:
"Exercise is a tremendous stress reliever." Orbuch adds for couples: "You can also try exercising together, maybe by taking a long walk two or three times a week."
This is different then going out and looking for an "escape." That actually causes one to dread going back to work making things worse. You can always walk around the block or you can join a sports team or a gym. Several new gyms have opened and they have some great classes out there. Marcie and I have recently started doing the Les Mills "body pump" and "RPM" class. While a trainer is probably the best motivation, exercise in a class setting really seems to help you push yourself.

2) Connection:
ANONYMITY. Employees feel anonymous when their manager isn’t interested in them as people. If you’re feeling ignored, try acting like the manager you want.Ask them about their weekend.The more interest you take in their life, the more interest they’ll take in yours.
This is a bit more difficult for the introvert but it is still in your hands to change this.

3) Relevance:
IRRELEVANCE. We need to feel that our performance matters. To counter this problem, ask your boss to explain how the work you’re doing makes a difference. Even if the reason’s lost in layers of bureaucracy, it’s there. Otherwise, there’d be no reason to keep you on the payroll.
Firefighters and police typically have this much easier. I read an article that they tend to have pretty high job satisfaction for this very reason. As was said above however, if you were not needed, they would just let you go.

4) Reviews:
The last sign of a miserable job is something Lencioni calls IMMEASUREMENT. That’s his term for the uneasy feeling you get when there’s no way to tell if you’re doing a good job.
If your boss or team lead has never said anything positive to you yet jumps all over you for not forwarding your phone when you're on your vacation day, they are actually lowering productivity. At the same time, always blowing sunshine isn't the answer. Employees need both acknowledgment for success as well as direction for growth however this is ultimately your job and your responsibility. Ask your manager what criteria they use to measure your success, and ask for regular performance reviews.

The employees who are the happiest at work have three things in common
: They feel their work makes a difference, no matter how small, they have friends on the job, and they can make some of their own decisions. Get those three things going, and you’ll be burned out no more.

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