Ten steps to loving your job: How to improve job satisfaction

We often see TV ads and billboards depicting happy people at work: individuals and teams smiling, saying positive things – even professionals making heart-shapes with their hands. Some are actors, some are real. You could be cynical and hope they mean it, especially in today’s volatile work climate. On the other hand, loving what you do adds purpose to your existence, a spring in your step and a sense that your contribution is valued. 

Can you say, right now, “I love my job”? Not quite?

Here are 10 tips for increasing your job satisfaction.

1. Plan your day

Many people’s angst about their jobs has to do with a chaotic work environment. If this is your office, try to at least have your tech setup and calendar in order, and do some planning every day, first thing. Arrive early, grab a coffee and sit somewhere quiet where you can review the plan and jot down tasks. 

2. Set clear, realistic goals

These help ‘earth’ you so that you’re not flailing in all directions. It’s all the more important if you’re surrounded by chaotic individuals whose needs impinge on yours. Discuss your goals with your manager and agree upon the milestones – when they are achieved you can both be proud. Setting goals, tackling challenges and achieving results is one of the most satisfying things you can do at work.

3. Have a break with a friend 

Having friends at work is very important, but it doesn’t necessarily mean socialising out of work hours. It is good, however, to be able to have a walk, coffee or lunch with someone you respect and whose company you enjoy.Ideally, there is more than one person at work who you enjoy spending time with.

4. Know your strengths and tailor accordingly

This is vital – because you will be most satisfied when you are using your skills. Some are brilliant at IT, others can summarise a complex technical document in minutes, while others have years of experience in solving problems. Know what you love doing and where you excel. A diverse array of skillsets are needed for a company or organisation to really advance its offerings.

5. Tackle misunderstandings positively

This one’s tricky. Noone is guaranteed total harmony with colleagues. Be as constructive as possible, especially with difficult co-workers, and note your interactions afterwards. Stick to facts and make an effort to hear what they’re saying, even if you don’t completely agree. Don’t start a never ending cold-war with someone at work.

6. Try to be helpful

In some places, there’s a distinct attitude of ‘not my job’. It’s indicative of a poor culture; don’t buy into this and remember that we all need help from time-to-time. Just don’t allow yourself to become a doormat for unethical characters – be helpful where it will do the most good. Offering help is a powerful way to make you feel good too.

7. Study a new skill

Avoid becoming stagnant and operating in the same way year-after-year. Learn a new skill, enthusiastically! Because you will always benefit. The world never stops changing, and we must evolve with it.

8. Listen, watch, learn

This ranges from attending lunchtime seminars, listening to relevant podcasts while working, or canvassing new software and apps that improve business efficiency and effectiveness. It’s also about developing as much of an understanding of your workplace and its people as possible. The point is to cultivate powers of observation that then assist in the prevention of serious mistakes, in order to avoid harm and devise solutions that make a difference.

9. Show support, empathy and patience

Some work environments are dispersed and quite impersonal, which can alienate new starters, let alone the veterans. There is no need for companies to become dystopian, or expect their staff to turn into bots. Be aware of someone that is struggling with issues and may need someone to talk to.

Some people take time to learn, or to adapt to a new team. An outsider who’s been in the company or team barely two weeks might not be coping with the strain of ‘keeping up’ with a team already well-versed in what they are doing. This can lead to an impatient manager or colleague branding the newbie as ‘incompetent’. Newbies need patience and ideally a buddy or mentor who can build their confidence within a few days, rather than contributing to crushing it. 

Workplaces are busy and fast-moving; slow down and remember that you’re dealing with people. Seeing someone break into a smile of relief and happiness when an unfamiliar process suddenly makes sense reminds you that a job can be wonderful. Be humane and you will be rewarded with friendships that lighten your load.

10. Lighten up

A sense of optimism, being open to new prospects, and even a touch of humour — all can be beneficial to increasing your job satisfaction. Smiles, funny videos, memes or cartoons can bring much-needed perspective to what we all do daily for a living. A dull breakfast meeting can be transformed if you recall an episode of The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, Seinfeld (whatever your taste runs to); suddenly those dull-eyed colleagues clutching their first macchiato of the day brighten, and before you know it, you’re all enjoying a laugh and feeling better about the day ahead.

If you are already enacting all these tips, your job is going well. It’s better, of course, if you have a great team and management, you feel reasonably well paid and you can enjoy your leisure hours. Such factors may be beyond your control. But given that most of us spend a fair amount of our lives earning a crust, the above can make a tremendous difference – for the better.

NOW READ: What makes managers happy or unhappy at work?


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