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Learning to Like Your Job

As Labor Day approaches, I had to share this latest post from The Bing Blog – Do you like your job? If you’ve ever worked, you’ve pondered this question.

I don’t believe that anyone likes his or her job 100% of the time.  As a mid-career Boomer, I’m not doing what I thought I’d be doing when I entered college 35 years ago with plans to save the world.   Despite the copious advice available regarding the importance of following your passions, leveraging your strengths, and crafting your personal brand, employment nirvana is elusive.

If you accept that you won’t love your job all the time, there are things you can do to help you like your job most of the time.  Here are a few that work for me:

  • Work relationships matter a lot – The results of every employee satisfaction survey I’ve seen in the last 20 years cite “my coworkers” as a primary driver of satisfaction at work.  Be a good coworker to those around you.  If you don’t trust and respect your coworkers, you probably need to find a new team to play on.
  • Apply the “No one’s going to die” rule – Unless you are literally in the business of saving lives (which most of us aren’t), there is little to be gained from allowing yourself to stress out as though lives are on the line as a result of your next move.  There are few decisions at work that won’t be better as a result of taking a moment to slow down and breathe before speaking or hitting the “Send” button.
  • You will work from home – Work-life balance doesn’t mean that those parts of your life can be neatly partitioned.  Deadlines and inspiration can and will strike during your “off” time.  Illness and plumbing will intrude on “work” time.  Work for employers that give you the flexibility and tools to accommodate these scenarios and you’ll be happier.
  • Contributing makes you feel good – Happiness isn’t the absence of work, it’s the opportunity to do work that makes a difference to those around you.

What helps you to like your job?

The Productivity Drain

In our most recent survey conducted in conjunction with Harris Interactive, we asked over 1000 US workers how they are faring as the recession reaches the one year mark.  Although there are some glimmers of hope being expressed that we’ve seen the worst of the recession, many of our respondents have already felt the impact in the form of layoffs, increased workloads and lower workplace morale.

Thirty-eight percent of our respondents said that there had been layoffs in the past year at their primary place of employment.  Forty percent of them further indicated that productivity had been negatively impacted by layoffs:

o 66 percent said that morale has suffered and people are less motivated;

o 64 percent said that there is too much work and not enough people to do it;

o 37 percent said the wrong people or departments were laid off, leaving inefficient systems and workflows; and

o 36 percent said they are concerned that as the economy picks up, they won’t have the right resources to meet demand.

Employees also have some advice for employers on how to improve the work environment:

o 50 percent said employers should look for ways to improve morale.  The most frequently cited mechanism to do so is increasing hours or salary;

o 46 percent said their employers have processes that should be automated to be more efficient;

o 36 percent said their organizations should invest in new technology to help manage productivity – interestingly enough, more men (42 percent) than women (30 percent) believe this would help; and

o 36 percent of employees believe that organizations need to take a fresh look at how to redistribute the workload among those employees who are left.

In an upcoming webinar with Jim Holincheck of Gartner, he’ll be offering insights into what organizations are doing to balance recession economics and productivity.  If you’d like to learn more, you can register here.

If you’ve felt the sting of cutbacks in your workplace, what’s your employer doing to help you work smarter, not just harder?  If you’re one of the optimists who believes the economy is starting to recover, how prepared is your organization to sprint out of the recession?