Being Able to Know Whether You are Happy at Work
(click below to view the video or read on if you’d prefer!)
Welcome to the first summer edition of Career Tips! To help us shift gears away from work considerations, let’s ask: are you happy at work? In the morning, do you look forward to going into the office? When you leave and come home, do you feel you’ve generally had a good day? Being reasonably happy at work is fundamental given the hours we spend there. When we’re happy, we’re also motivated – that’s the link between this article and this year’s preceding series on getting things done! If you missed it, you can catch it up here.
How can you know that you are indeed happy at work?
Coping with your workload
One element of feeling happy at work relates to your workload. Do you know what it is? That may seem like a silly question so put in more formal way: are you clear about your work objectives? Confusion about what we have to do or about how we are supposed to get it done puts a damper on things.
When there is an inadequacy between what you’ve been tasked with and your ability to address it, you will feel stress. So ask yourself whether you are comfortable with the calibration of your workload.
Lastly, when you get things done, does anyone thank you? Being recognised for what we’ve contributed is key to our well-being in the office. And not just on the occasion of the yearend performance review. Are you being thanked regularly enough?
Mastering your job
As noted above, you will experience stress if you are given work which you do not feel equipped to do. On the other hand, boredom is quick to point its nose if work is too easy. We all need the right level of stretch. Are you given the opportunity to use your skills and abilities at work? Or rather, are you being under-utilised? In the same vein, are you encouraged to develop new skills, to deepen your expertise, to broaden your capabilities? If so, are you satisfied with the training which is being made available to you? Is it suited to your needs, relevant to your day-to-day challenges or helpful in positioning you to meet new challenges in the future?
Having a say
Being able to exercise a good degree of autonomy around your work is a basic necessity. The more say you have in what you are doing and in how you may go about delivering, the happier you will feel. So let me ask you: are you being consulted about matters which affect you in the office? This is a broad question but I hope that you will be able to answer in the positive for several if not all matters affecting you.
Conversely, do you feel pressured to work and behave in ways which go against your natural grain? Are decisions which impact your workload and/or your working area or/your team/business unit taken without you having any say whatsoever? Are you encouraged to voice your opinion about issues which affect you and/or your area of responsibility and/or your business group?
Working in comfort and safety
It is important that your working conditions be satisfactory. At the very least, your work environment must be safe. I have a client who works in a frigid room because the machines there need to be kept cool: that poor fellow is constantly cold and does in fact have several every year! Take a look at how you are seating: is your chair maintaining a good posture and protecting your back from harm? More generally, does your employer provide you with what you need to work effectively, such as remote email access or disabled toilet facilities? Don’t hesitate to think broadly about your physiological and psychological needs!
Linked to your comfort but also to your autonomy is the relationship between work life and life outside the office. This is the theme of flexible working: does your employer allow you to adjust your working hours and conditions to meet legitimate non-work demands? Some companies actively promote flexible working hours and patterns and staff there clearly benefit: is that the case where you work? In short, does your work life dovetail naturally enough with your personal circumstances?
Being satisfied with your work life
Now that you’ve considered your workload, your ability to discharge your work obligations and the opportunities you have to learn and grow as a professional, your capacity to influence matters which concern you in the office, your comfort and safety and, finally, the degree to which your work life fits with the rest of your life, you are ready to answer this last question: are you happy with your work life? Put another way: does your work life provide you with quality and fulfilment rather than boredom or frustration? Are you satisfied with both your career today and future opportunities?
There you have it: a few suggestions to help you self-assess how you feel about your work life. I trust that you will be having a holiday over the summer: this might be the ideal moment to step back and reflect. Don’t be put off by the possibility of answering negatively. Even if you should realise that you are not that happy at work, the upside that is this simple exercise should have flagged up what the snag is. The next step will be to approach your manager and discuss what can be done to improve matters. Again, you may not obtain satisfaction but you will have taken assertive steps.
If this article resonated with you, don’t hesitate to contact me for a chat where we would explore what is going on for you and what you would like to have happen. To contact me, click here.
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