The 9 Factors of Workplace Happiness
According to a study conducted by The Conference Board in 2005, Americans are increasingly unhappy with their jobs:
–Only 14% claim to be “very satisfied.”
–50% say they’re dissatisfied.
–25% say they’re “just showing up for the paycheck.”
In the interest of investigating why so many of us dislike our jobs, I offer you these 9 factors of workplace happiness. While neither universal nor all encompassing, this list is helpful as a job screen, and it’s also a worthwhile rubric for evaluating any professional endeavor:
1. The Boss’ Attitude: Research consistently ranks a bad boss as a primary cause of job dissatisfaction. If a prospective boss is rude, abrasive, callus, disoriented, or otherwise lacking in people skills during his interview with you, beware. If you’ve already been hired at the time that you uncover the personality conflict, consider your mitigation options.
2. Salary & Benefits: Research by Richard Easterlin suggests that how much money you make has no bearing on how much you enjoy your job; it’s true. However, earning a livable middle-class wage (as opposed to living in poverty) will, in fact, boost your overall happiness. Long story short? Earn enough to pay your bills.
3. Work-style Compatibility: Perfectionists are rarely happy in jobs that value speed over quality. Conversely, action junkies rarely enjoy bureaucracy. Don’t shy away from a challenge, but do consider your style preference when evaluating the suitability of a particular job.
4. Schedule & Flexibility: People who have enough free time to pursue meaningful interests and to nurture personal relationships report greater happiness than those who do not. Make sure your job allows enough free time and personal-life flexibility.
5. Performance Evaluations: One of the few consistent predictors of job-dissatisfaction is an arbitrary, capricious, or unfair boss. Often, the only way to know whether a particular manager’s evaluation process is fair is to ask employees working in his unit, which brings me to the next factor…
6. Current Employee Satisfaction: Does your extended personal network contain anyone on the inside who might be willing to tell you how much she enjoys working in this particular manager’s unit? Research has shown that we can predict future happiness more accurately by talking to others who are experiencing the thing we are contemplating. In other words, ask the people who know.
7. Co-Worker Friendliness: Few things in life are worse than working with intolerable jerks. Watch for warning signs during an interview, and consider mitigation options (such as escalation or conflict resolution) at any point thereafter.
8. Potential for Advancement: Meaningful long-term goals are important. Make sure your job has some.
9. Intrinsic Motivation: People who work simply for extrinsic factors (money, prestige, honor, power) report lower satisfaction than those who work for intrinsic factors (meaning, purpose). Do you care about the work you do?
It may not be reasonable to expect 100% satisfaction in each of these 9 areas, but it makes sense to address problem areas wherever feasible.
A bad job makes it hard to be happy. If you’re currently working in a negative environment, do try to find something better; you’ll be happier for it.
October 10, 2007 Wednesday at 9:26 pm