Do you wake up each morning dreading the day at the office? You’re not alone. In August 2012, Jacquelyn Smith (Forbes.com) cited a report by the Society for Human Resource Management, which found that a mere 29% of people aged 31 – 61 years old were ‘very satisfied’ with their job. That means 71% of people wish they were happier. That’s a depressing statistic. After all, you spend most of your day at work, and it can’t be good for you to be that unhappy for that much time, day after day and even year after year.
It is, indeed, not good for you
It’s a pretty obvious statement, really. But scientists are usually determined to prove unequivocally the things we think we already know. Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) set out to discover the effects that hating your job have on your well-being. They found that hating your job is as bad for you psychologically-speaking as being unemployed.
Specifically, people who are unhappy in their jobs are just as likely as unemployed people to suffer from anxiety and depression. All types of jobs were considered, from those that involve hard manual labour or poor working conditions to those who that are highly stressful or are poorly managed.
Other studies have shown that being unhappy at work also negatively affects your physical health. For example, unhappy employees have high blood pressure and are even likely to suffer from heart disease.
What can you do to change the situation?
Well, you can do the obvious and find another job. But that isn’t always possible, especially when you have kids that need trivial things like food and education. Mortgages also don’t make the prospect of unemployment particularly attractive. We’ve already seen that being unemployed is as bad as being unhappy at work. It’s a frying pan-fire situation. Plan B is to accept your job and find ways in which you can make it more bearable. Take heart, it is possible.
The first step is the most important. Critically assess the situation and decide if you’re really unhappy with your job of if you’re unhappy with where you are in life. Often being unhappy at work is part of a larger picture of general dissatisfaction.
If you’re struggling to find joy in any other aspect of your life, you should probably step back and see what you’d need to change personally to make yourself happier.
If it is your job, consider the following tips:
- Change your immediate environment. This is as simple as putting a pot plant on your desk and putting up some pictures of your friends, family, and pets. You’ll get an injection of happiness every time you look up and see your kids play with your dog or you partner smiling at you from the beach on your last holiday.
- Take a look at your job description and see if you would like to change anything. Perhaps you would like to add a couple of responsibilities and expand your portfolio. Or, you could want to delegate some responsibilities that you feel are a genuine waste of your time and skills. Talk to your boss to see if you can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.
- Take a course related to your job. You can inform your boss of your intentions but don’t be disheartened if the company doesn’t foot the bill. The point is that they now know that you want to develop your skills. This kind of information is remembered, which means they’re likely to consider you before anyone else when it comes to promotions. It will also give you some leverage if you want to negotiate your job description.
- Make an effort to become more involved. Many people feel left out of the loop; they feel that they’re always the last to know about new clients, policy changes, and other developments. If you make an effort to be included you will probably be included in more things automatically. Just don’t be pushy about it.
What it ultimately boils down to is an attitude change. If you wallow in your unhappiness you will be unhappy. But if you decide to take the clichéd bull by the horns and become responsible for your happiness, you could turn the situation around.
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Sandy Cosser writes for Skilled Migrant Jobs, an international job board that helps professional immigrants find Australian jobs.