According to a 2009 job satisfaction survey conducted by The Conference Board, only 45% of workers in the United States are satisfied with their jobs. Even with high unemployment rates, many people who are working are finding their jobs increasingly unsatisfactory. And it's not just a particular group of earners who are dissatisfied; workers of all ages and incomes are unhappy in their current work situations. Despite the strong urge to quit and look for greener grass, there are instances when remaining in a less-than-satisfying job can be good in the long run. Here are eight reasons to tough out your job. (Involuntary unemployment is never pleasant. Find out more, in Planning For Unemployment.)
IN PICTURES: A Bigger Salary Or Better Benefits?
Money is the obvious reason to remain in a job that you would otherwise quit in a heartbeat. The fact is, unless you are willing to live in the woods off the fat of the land, you are going to need money. This becomes even more important if you are responsible for more people than just yourself. While it is definitely frustrating to approach the daily grind with the only reward being a paycheck, it does help pay the bills. Any benefits, such as health insurance or retirement savings plans, add to the pot. (Job loss can be devastating. Learn how to anticipate it and quickly get back on your feet, in Losing Your Job: From A To Z.)
Even if your job is not ideal, chances are you are learning something that can become marketable in the future. In other words, it is in your best interest to learn everything possible from your current position so these skills can help you secure a more fulfilling position in the future. In addition, people who are actively seeking a new job appear more employable if they are currently working than if there is a big gap in their resumes. (When looking for a job, people often focus on those that pays the most. But what other factors should you be considering? Find out, in Job Hunting: Higher Pay Vs. Better Benefits.)
You might be unhappy with your current position. But before you decide to call it quits, consider the advancement opportunities that may exist should you decide to stay. Try to think honestly of the best case scenario - where could you be in this company in two or five years? If you already have some time invested, will additional time help get you to a position where you could be happy?
Having realistic expectations about a career is vital to job satisfaction. Expecting too much responsibility, freedom or compensation can lead to disappointment. It is helpful to look objectively at the position to determine realistic expectations both for the job position and for yourself. It is also important to focus on your own situation - not on your co-workers'. It could be that the job itself is reasonable - but your expectations are not. (Read Top 6 Ways To Recession-Proof Your Job for six tips to help you survive and beat recessionary job cuts.)
- The Grass is Always Greener
Although it's easy to assume "I would be so happy if I worked somewhere else," this is not always the case. Even the dreamiest of jobs provoke some level of dissatisfaction. Frequently, the jobs that seem most appealing fall short in some regard, whether it's in salary, job stress level, time commitment or working conditions (i.e. environment, co-workers etc). It can be helpful to objectively analyze your current job - and the job on the other side of the fence - before making any decisions.
If you are unhappy with your job, it is useful to take an honest look at your attitude. Is there something that you could change (about yourself) that would make your job more tolerable? For example, competition is inevitable in many workplaces. If one of your colleagues gets more recognition, how do you react? If you become envious or blame other people for your circumstances, it can lead to a great deal of job dissatisfaction. If, on the other hand, you dig deep and decide a course of action that will put you in the limelight next time, your job could turn challenging - rather than dreadful. (Ready to quit your day job and become a full-time trader? The tips in Quit Your Job To Trade Stocks? will help you determine your area of expertise.)
A common source of workplace dissatisfaction involves an intolerable co-worker or manager. While we all hope to get along with our colleagues, one co-worker can, quite literally, ruin your work day. You might try a different approach to the working relationship to see if that alleviates some of the stress (be honest and try to determine if there is something you are doing - or not doing - that is contributing to the animosity). Also, take into consideration that the difficult co-worker might eventually switch departments or take a new position.
If you have decided that your current job is definitely not going to work out for the long term, you can begin a new job search while you are still employed. As mentioned above, being currently employed is more appealing to potential employers, and it is easier to look for a suitable job (and one that you will enjoy more than your current one) if you are not worried about making the mortgage payment. Trying to secure a job when you absolutely have to get one can force you to accept a position that is no better than the one you left. Once you have an offer, you can provide your notice and make the transition to a new position.
The Bottom Line
Increased access to higher education has left the workforce with higher expectations and aspirations - both in career choice and advancement opportunities. Trends in current work ethics indicate that young people entering the workforce are especially prone to impatience when job advancements do not happen quickly. If you are considering leaving your job, it pays to take an honest look around to determine if there are steps you could take to improve your work situation. While there are certainly times when quitting is an absolute necessity (for example, when your health is at risk), a close look at your job and yourself could reveal a valid reason to tough out your job.
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