The most recent Gallup poll regarding job satisfaction shows that only 47% of Americans are completely satisfied with their job. Although that seems like a large percentage, it means that less than half of the working population is really satisfied with something that constitutes a large part of their lives. Next in line are people who are somewhat satisfied with their jobs. That number rounds out to 42%. Again, it seems like a pretty good number. After all, if you are somewhat satisfied, it means that everything can’t be all bad, right? Bringing up the rear are those people who are somewhat or completely dissatisfied with their job. That number weighs in at 11%.
If you combine these numbers, it becomes clear that over half of the American population is not completely happy with what they do for a living. Think about that for a second. 53% of the population goes to work every day and devotes a large part of their day to something that does not, or only somewhat, satisfies them. The argument to this of course, is that although the economy is showing signs of improvement people should feel lucky just have a job. I may be an optimist, but I believe that is only partially true. Most of us do need to work for a living so we need to have a job. However, I reject the idea that we should accept a job simply because it means a paycheck. In the current economic climate, many have been forced to take less challenging jobs due to lay off, or are considered underemployed for their experience and education. While it may not be an ideal situation, there are ways to improve job satisfaction if a job or career change is not an immediate option.
One of the best ways to improve an attitude about work is to develop a strong support system. This is an area where American workers give high marks to themselves. 70% of those surveyed say they experience high satisfaction with coworkers or colleagues. A strong peer support network is crucial to weather the stressful situations that erupt in the workplace each day. Having that support allows people to feel valued–to be part of a community. This support builds cohesion among the workforce and benefits the employer as well as the employee.
While coworker satisfaction may be high, the same cannot be said for the relationship with the boss or direct supervisor. Barely half of the group admitted to being satisfied with their immediate superior. This is unfortunate since a strong peer support network can only be eroded if you do not have the same sense of support by management.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that workplace stress was the highest cause for job dissatisfaction. 33% were completely dissatisfied with the amount of on-the-job stress and 37% were only somewhat satisfied with the amount of stress. Stress levels that high can’t help but have an adverse effect on individual health and well-being. When faced with this information, bringing down the amount of stress in the workplace becomes critically important.
One way to lower stress levels is to exercise personal strengths as much as possible during the day. Another Gallup study shows when people use their personal strengths more, they tend to stress less. When Americans utilize their strengths to do what they do best, they experience less worry, stress, and anxiety. This is especially true in the workplace. Have you ever been involved in a task at work and looked up at the clock only to see that it was much later than you thought? Time had flown by, and rather than feeling exhausted you felt strangely energized? Most likely this happened because you were engaged in an activity that used your own strengths. When you engage in activities take advantage of the best you have to offer, you can’t help but lower your stress levels.
We may all have an idea of where our strengths lie, but how can we be certain? One of the best ways is to take the VIA strength test. It is a free survey that will give you a ranking of your strengths and weaknesses. It is easy and has just been revised down to 120 questions. The whole survey takes about fifteen minutes and is definitely worth the time. You may be surprised at the results. The first time I took the test I was amazed to see my top strength was gratitude. I expected organization or leadership, but when I stopped to think about, gratitude made a lot of sense.
Once you have this information in front of you, you can begin to compare it to what you do on a daily basis. The next step is to see how and where you can integrate your strengths into your current position. It is not as difficult as it may seem, regardless of your situation. Even if you do not have control over what you are assigned at work, there are ways to exploit your strengths on a daily basis. It does not require a major sea-change, but it may require a reframing of how you view some of your duties.
Learning how to weave your strengths into your daily work is one way to reduce stress and increase overall job satisfaction. It does not, however, answer the more pressing question as to why so many people find themselves in jobs that don’t exploit those strengths in the first place.
That is a subject that I will be dealing with in my next article.
How about you? How satisfied are you with your job? Do you find a great sense of accomplishment in it or is it just something to bring in a paycheck? I’d love to hear what you think.
Improve your personal satisfaction numbers. Click here for information on my upcoming Yoga Fitness Vacation.