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You and your job – happy together?

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harmony at work

Are you happy in your job? If not, then you’re not entirely alone, but don’t worry because Denise Taylor has some handy hints on how to make your working day that little bit more enjoyable.


Some lucky people love their job and look forward to work each day, but for many of us work is just about OK.

Research says that as many as 50% of the working population are unhappy in their career, and my research has found that over 40% of people are going to be looking for a job in the next 12 months. But what can people do in the meantime to make their job more bearable?

These suggestions are not going to turn you from someone who is unhappy at work to someone who is very happy, but a couple of them may work for you or someone you know.

Let’s look at some of the alternatives to moaning about our job and wishing we were somewhere else.

1: Decide to like your job

Whatever we think about is what our brain will focus on so why not decide, for one day at a time, that you will like your job and act ‘as if’ you do. If you did like your job, how would you feel and act? How would you talk with people? How would you tackle different jobs?

2: Remember the reasons why you took the job

Why did you take the job? What excited you about it? Did you take it to learn new skills, for career development or perhaps to increase your salary? If you took the job for the money, perhaps you could think of what you can buy; if it is for career development, focus on what you have learnt.

3: Don’t expect work to meet all your needs

No one part of our life can meet all of our needs, so why do many of us spend so much time at work and expect so much from it? We work such long hours and we can hope to get all our needs met (e.g. friendship, fulfilment, challenge) through our job, but is this asking too much? Could you, for example, meet your needs for creativity or being of service through your out-of-work activities?

4: Be ruthless over the time we give to work

Work is just part of our life. We also have family, leisure activities, and time to be alone. We need to be able to have a balanced life. Too much time spent at work zaps our energy, and we don’t have time for anything else. Sometimes it’s the content of the job, and it really can be too demanding. So why don’t we discuss this with our bosses? Maybe some work could be reassigned, or we could get training. But sometimes it’s our fault. We waste time, or we want to be indispensable. Review the hours you spend on tasks over a week and see where time could be saved to enable you to have a life outside of work.

5: Get feedback

Has your boss or your colleagues ever told you how good you are, praised you for a project, thanked you for the extra effort? For many of us, we need to get feedback to know how well we are doing and this can make us feel more motivated and thus happier at work. If your boss doesn’t provide feedback, we need to encourage them how to get the best out of us.

6: Get the training you need

It can be so hard when we struggle with a job, and when we lack essential skills – no wonder that makes us unhappy. So if you have a new task at work, be sure to get the training you need.

7: Know what motivates us

We are motivated in different ways – not everyone is motivated by money. Schein identified nine different ways we can be motivated, as shown in the box below. How well does your job match up to what is important to you?

  • Material rewards – seeking possessions, wealth and a high standard of living
  • Power and influence – seeking to be in control of people and resources
  • Search for meaning – seeking to do things which are believed to be valuable in their own right
  • Expertise – seeking a high level of accomplishment in a particular field
  • Creativity – seeking to be innovative and to be identified with original output
  • Affiliation – seeking social relationships with others at work
  • Independence – seeking independence and autonomy, the freedom to make key decisions oneself
  • Security – seeking a solid and predictable future
  • Status – seeking to be recognised, admired and respected by the community at large
  • 8: Review your day

    For some people, work can get us down as we feel we haven’t achieved anything in the day, so why not take time to review what you have done and realise you have made a difference. You have dealt with a difficult manager, solved a problem, or completed a report. Sometimes it can be worth thinking about your achievements at lunch, as well as at the end of the day, to realise that your day has been worthwhile.

    9: Count your blessings

    When the job is so awful, maybe it is time to think about what else is important to you in life – family, friends and community, and to make sure you take time to connect with the people that are important to you each day.


    Denise Taylor is director of Amazing People, which specialises in career counselling, guidance and coaching for individuals, and career management, recruitment and assessments for organisations.

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