After some basic career hygiene factors like physical safety, job security, co-worker relationships and salary, what adds-up to job satisfaction?
It’s an obviously important question to consider. We invest a significant part of ourselves in our careers. And for that investment not to deliver our personal definitions of satisfaction adds up to an unhappy time.
But for all it’s an obvious consideration, job satisfaction is easily overlooked. And we can go weeks, sometimes months and years, not noticing how dissatisfied we are in our work.
If you find yourself lacking in job satisfaction, check your current role against this list. And notice what positive changes you could make to get back to work that leaves you feeling fulfilled.
Challenge and stretch.
- We work at our best when we’re challenged and stretched. And so it’s important our work delivers a degree of stretch to exercise our cognitive capacity, engage our attention and invigorate us to continuously improve.
- Our brain loves just the right levels of challenge and stretch. But it’s a delicate neurochemical balance: to keep us between fatigue and boredom at one end of the spectrum; and stress and overwhelm at the other. Consider whether your work is too much of a stretch – or indeed, is not providing enough of (the right sort of!) challenge.
Opportunity to use your full range.
- We are all a blend of skills, abilities, knowledge and experience. And we rarely feel fulfilled if we’re not asked to make good use of our full complement of competencies.
- What value do you bring to the work that just isn’t being utilised? How could you better make full use of every competency you bring to the table?
Autonomy and independence.
- Autonomy – to have ownership over something – is an incredible important social domain for the human brain. And lack of autonomy is one of the quickest ways to demotivate someone in their work – and leave them disengaged.
- Autonomy is often subtly lost: as in, when a leader or manager puts in just enough to make it their idea not yours. Are you bring granted actual autonomy?
The work itself.
- The actual day-to-day grind. Do you enjoy your basic work? Does it play to your strengths? Does it motivate and inspire you? There are going to be elements that are more of a chore than others. But in the end, do you like the nature of the role? And what it takes to get it done?
Contribution and legacy.
- Contribution is a recurrent theme among my coaching clients. And from personal experience, that sense of contributing something significant for another person and/or for the greater good is very motivating.
- What contribution is your work making in the world? And what are you building of lasting value that will leave a legacy once you’ve moved on?
Learning and growth.
- Human beings have huge capacity for learning. And one of the great joys of work is in its opportunities for learning, development and growth. To continually push the boundaries of what we know and can do.
- In the course of your work, what new learning are you required – and inspired – to undertake?
- Finding great satisfaction in your work is not just about being good at something. It’s about being good at something that matters.
- Does your work matter to you? And does it matter to the wider world – in ways that matter to you?
Aligning with vision and purpose.
- I sometimes feel too much is made of working in an area you feel passionate about. Sometimes, your passion and your career can’t come together in a meaningful way that works for you. And that’s ok. It’s ok for your job not to be your passion. There are other ways to find that expression.
- But a misalignment – a conflict – with our values is something else entirely. When our values are at conflict with the work that we do, everything becomes a struggle. So know your values. And ask: which of my values are most expressed at work? Which do I need to express more? And which are, perhaps, in conflict?
Balance by intentional design.
- Work/life balance is a misnomer. But we all know what we mean when we say it. And for me, there is no prescribed answer to what that balance should be – other than my wish that yours be intentional.
- If you want to work all hours – go for it. If you want to make it a strict 9 – 5 and make dedicated quality time for the people in your life – go for it. Everything and anything else in between – go for it. Just have it be according to your own intentional design.