6 strategies to feeling happier at work
The latest data suggests that 4 out of 5 of us aren’t satisfied with our work, this isn’t a great number considering the time most of us spend at work.
Feeling stuck in your career, while it may feel scary, is a natural, almost inevitable, developmental stage in any path of growth. It’s common to think that creating change in your career requires quitting your job or changing your profession, but sometimes small changes are actually what’s needed to solve ‘career problems’.
But before we dive into the strategies you can take to find more satisfaction in your work, let’s break down some of the common reasons for feeling unhappy in the first place. It’s important that you pinpoint the reason/s first so you can choose the right course of action.
Seven of the most common reasons for low work satisfaction:
You’ve stopped growing and developing yourself professionally (and personally) and you feel like there aren’t many advancement opportunities in your current job
You feel like your work isn’t recognised and you’re not rewarded for the effort you put into your daily tasks
You don’t like your department/team/direct manager
There’s a strength/skill misalignment. You're overworking certain strengths which makes you feel exhausted and not getting the chance to use other skills that you really love
You’re afraid of sharing your opinions, pitching ideas, suggesting improvements – you feel unexpressed at work
Your work is out of alignment with your personal values
You’re heart (your passion/interests or what you feel called to contribute) isn’t in your work anymore, you long to do something different
*We won’t explore those last two reasons in this email, as they require a deeper dive, bigger questions to ask and perhaps, a bigger leap to take.
With that in mind, take some time to reflect on why you feel unsatisfied at your current job:
Is it the people, the environment, the role or the sector that’s stretching you? What is it about the people/the environment? What is it about the role? What is it about the sector? What do you feel is missing? Do you feel like you aren’t really using your skill set? Does work feel monotonous and you crave more challenge? Is it that you don’t care much about what you do or that you feel like it doesn't have an impact? Is it a lack of confidence that keeps you playing small? Is it a lack of resilience that makes it harder for you to grow from setbacks? Is it the work environment or the company’s culture that you don’t like? Or perhaps it’s something outside of work that’s affecting how you feel about your work?
Once you find more clarity around the root source of your dissatisfaction at work, create a strategy/plan for the next 30 days, mixing & matching the strategies below. Choose the ones that resonate the most with your current situation and leave out the rest. Feel free to add ideas of your own:
Meet your basic needs. Your health and wellbeing is the baseline condition for feeling happy and satisfied at work. If you’re overstressed, overworked, tired, depleted, lethargic or distracted as a result of not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to make any other changes, and if you do, they won’t have a massive impact on how you’re experiencing your work. If that’s you, tend to your well-being first. Create a replenishment plan. This may include – setting uncomfortable boundaries, prioritising sleep and self-care, adopting stress management tools, practising mindfulness and creating work-life integration. Even little things such as organising your workspace (adding some plants, buying a fun mug), doing something for yourself first thing in the morning before you start your day, going for a walk or meditating in your lunch break, etc. can make a big difference to your mood and motivation at work.
Reach out to your manager or talk with HR. If you feel underpaid, can you ask for a raise? If you feel like there’s a mismatch between what you need to do and the deadline / the resources you have to complete it, can you ask for the resources you need? If you don’t like your department, can you ask to transfer teams? If you want to reduce your working hours, can you have an open conversation about that? Statistics show that between 25%-50% of workers are seriously considering quitting their jobs, which means that more and more companies and organisations are willing to accommodate your needs.
Focus on personal development. Building your self-confidence, working through feelings of impostorism and gaining tools to manage self-doubt, will help you feel more competent at work and as a result more free to speak up, share your perspective, pitch ideas, ask for help and come up with creative solutions. The more you bring more of yourself into your work, the more self-expressed you feel, and the more work satisfaction you experience.
Seek out opportunities for growth. Our satisfaction and fulfilment levels are congruent with our growth and expansion. The more our work allows us opportunities to learn and develop ourselves, the more satisfaction we'll experience. This is where you want to get creative and think about projects you might want to take, skills that you would like to learn/sharpen or knowledge you would like to acquire. Get clear about what you want and pitch your ideas/share your thoughts with your manager.
Connect with your ‘why’. Bringing more purpose to work can mean connecting what you do with what you believe in and care about rather than passively embracing the status quo. For example, if you value equality and diversity, you can make a point of bringing that more into your workplace. If you’re passionate about environmental issues you can try to raise awareness around it in your workplace and even suggest ways your company can contribute towards positive change. If you’re ‘why’ is around helping others grow, perhaps you can take a mentor role at work (again, a conversation to have with your manager)
Do a skills and strengths inquiry. I’ve once heard that the reason many people are unhappy in their careers is because they’re constantly trying to improve their weaknesses. Focusing on your strengths, identifying what you enjoy doing but not getting to do enough of and the activities you’re able to master relatively quickly can make a big difference to the levels of satisfaction you experience in your career. This may involve reaching out to your manager about delegating some of the tasks you don’t enjoy/are not good at and shifting to working on tasks that are within your zone of genius. The more we get to express and share our unique gifts at work, the more satisfaction we experience.
Finding and creating a career path that is meant for you or redesigning the job you have, is not about crossing items off your to-do list. It requires diving deep into your needs, cravings and desires, in your career and beyond. It requires listening to yourself and trusting yourself in ways you have never done before. It requires time to explore instead of just jumping on to the next thing without really considering — What do I truly want? If you’re at a career crossroads, try to think about your life as a whole rather than focusing on work in a vacuum, ask yourself – Is this career supporting the life I’m trying to create?
If you’re craving support around creating a life & work that feels more fulfilling, meaningful and aligned, fill out this form and we’ll schedule a FREE discovery call to find out if we’re the right fit.