By Mia Casey
Pretty much all of us have worked a job that we’ve hated. But what happens when that job becomes your career? Research was released this August, which suggests that low job satisfaction could be causing you lasting harm, (beyond the simple sense of dread you feel upon waking each morning). Great news, I know. So, where can you go from here? Read on to find out more!
The American Sociological Association released a study which indicates that ‘job satisfaction in your late 20s and 30s has a link to overall health in your early 40s’. They used data collected from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 to look at the levels of job satisfaction in participants aged 25-39. They found that those who disliked their jobs throughout their early careers were more likely to suffer from mental health issues, sleep problems, and lower overall mental wellbeing. In comparison, those whose job satisfaction levels went up throughout that time did not have any ‘comparative health problems’.
Vallas’ book Research in the Sociology of Work supported this, also indicating that job insecurity could be linked to health issues.
But apparently, this isn’t anything new. A 2003 paper looked at close to 500 different studies (some from as early as the 1980s), and found that people who disliked their jobs were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and burnout. There was also a modest correlation between low job satisfaction and physical health.
So what contributes to job satisfaction? One study this paper examined indicated that:
‘the most important determinants of job satisfaction are whether an employee finds their job interesting, has good relationships with their managers and colleagues, has a high income, is allowed to work independently, and has clearly defined career advancement opportunities’.
Okay, so for those of you out there currently slogging through a job that you hate, this all sounds pretty dire. Soooo, what can you do?
Run away and never look back
Maybe you’re only staying at this job because it’s familiar, and you’re scared of what the future might hold. Fair enough! But if you’re in a position where you can leave, or even cut back on your hours, it might be a good idea to do so. Life’s pretty short, so being stuck doing work that holds no meaning for you may not be in your best interests. Have a think about whether you’ll still want to be working there for the next five years – if the answer’s no, then it might be time to move on.
Protect your home life
If your dissatisfaction at work is spilling over into your home life, then you need to make some changes. Set aside a few hours each night where you can’t access your work emails or phone, and focus on having some serious relaxation time.
If you find yourself coming home upset, try not to take it out on whoever you live with. Instead, communicate. I think you’ll find that those around you would much prefer to talk with you about how you’re feeling, than you taking your anger out on them without realising.
Do something you love
Picking up a hobby is a great way to stay productive at home, increase your creativity, and add purpose to your day. Did you enjoy writing in your journal when you were a teenager? Maybe start a blog. Enjoy playing video games? Why not set up a weekly games night with your friends, or create a social media account dedicated to game reviews. Really, you can do anything.
A hobby is also a great way to achieve something new (giving you that warm glow of satisfaction you might not be getting at work). Check out your local area for short-term courses, volunteering opportunities, or free workshops. Not only could you meet new people, but shaking up your routine can help you overcome the foreboding sense of doom your work may instil, and give you something to look forward to each week.
Look to your network
The people you surround yourself with can definitely have an impact on your mental well-being. If you have people around you who are tearing you down, you might want to start thinking about whether you really want them in your life. Surrounding yourself with caring and positive people can help maintain your mental health, and change your perspective on life for the better.
And don’t forget: your friends and family are on your side. If you’re struggling to stay positive, chat with someone close to you about how you’re feeling. They’ve probably had a similar experience, and sharing your stories can help you work through the problems you’re facing. It’s also a great way to brainstorm ideas about what to do! Whether it’s chatting to your boss about how you’re feeling, or looking for a new career direction, there are things you can do.
If you’re in a job that you hate, it might be time to start thinking about changing direction. While work doesn’t always have to be enjoyable, if you’re constantly dreading going in and dislike the work you’re doing, then you’ve got a problem. Like, a ‘could impact your health later in life’ type of problem. Remember, you’ve got people around you who can support you, and even if you can’t quit your job there are still things you can do.
Courtney Wright wrote a great piece on how important passion is in your career, that might be worth checking out if you’re thinking of making a change.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels.