Most of us spend a significant proportion of our waking hours at work, so no one wants to be stuck in an uninspiring or stressful role. While even the most satisfied employee can have an off day, it may be heartening to know that 48% describe themselves as fulfilled at work and almost two thirds have had a job that they genuinely loved at some point in their lives.
However, that still leaves over half the population who arent happy with their professional situation.
Its unlikely that any job will be 100% perfect, but if you live for the weekends and then spend Sunday in dreaded anticipation of the coming week then now might be the time to look for a more rewarding position. The main consideration is whether your current level of dissatisfaction is the result of temporary circumstances -- either of a personal nature or within your organisation -- or a sign of deeper problems that can only be fixed by a fresh start in a new company.
If youre still unsure whether its better to stay put or jump ship then the check list below might come in handy -- if you find yourself nodding in recognition of three or more of these points then it could be time for a change and a new job search in order:
1) The 80-20 rule applies for all the wrong reasons
The 80-20 principle was introduced as an economic theory in the early 20th century and has since been applied to many areas of life, such as diet. Nowadays its an effective way to assess professional satisfaction, with the aim that you should be reasonably happy about 80% of the time youre at work. If the balance shifts and you spend most of your time feeling dissatisfied or frustrated then its a clear indication that something is inherently wrong and major change is required.
2) You havent had a pay rise in years
There are many factors to consider when assessing happiness at work - some of which are hard to measure -- but theres no doubting that money is a key issue and its normal to expect your salary to increase over time.
The recent economic climate has forced numerous organisations to freeze pay rises and promotions until their financial situation improves. However, Home Learning College research shows that 10% of workers havent had a pay rise in the past five years -- long before the recession caused companies to tighten the purse strings.
If this is ringing any bells then the question is whether your company is simply unable or unwilling to address the situation or whether your performance is lacking in some area. Either way, its time to face the up to the problem and either fight for a pay rise or move into a new line of work thats better suited to your personality and skills.
3) The thought of promotion fills you with dread
Increasing responsibility is another sign of development and success at work, and many people are stimulated by the challenge of progressing to the next level in their career. However, if youre feeling bogged down and stressed by your current workload, or as though youre a round peg in a square hole, then the thought of additional accountability is sure to leave you cold. If this lack of desire for change is due to satisfaction with your current circumstances then there is no law that you need to strive for more seniority. When combined with a sense of inertia or feeling trapped in the wrong role then its a warning signal that something isnt right.
4) Your work never excites or interests you
Money and promotions aside, most people prefer to be stimulated at work and boredom is often cited as a key reason for leaving a job. Doing the same role, day after day for several years, can become extremely tedious and leave you feeling jaded and in need of a new focus.
Consider when you last learnt something new at work: if you cant remember then its time to get the old grey matter buzzing again. A change can be as good as a rest, but its not always necessary to turn your life upside down to enjoy these benefits. Another option is to take up a professional course that will deliver practical skills and may enhance your existing role or set you off on a whole new career path.
5) Conversations about work are mostly negative
Its completely normal to gripe about work occasionally. After all, there is no other social situation where you are obliged to spend a set amount of hours in the company of people you may not always like, doing things you may not always agree with. While the odd moan can be a healthy outlet for such frustrations these shouldnt dominate your conversations, either with friends or colleagues.
If youve passed that tipping point and rarely have a good word to say about work then your unhappiness at work has clearly spread into other areas of your life. Instead of wasting valuable energy complaining about things you probably cant change, why not re-focus that time on doing something productive, such as gaining new skills or hunting for a more suitable role. Not only will you feel happier, but those closest to you will feel relieved at having a new topic for discussion.
Dave Snow, Academic Director at Home Learning College