Having been working in HR for many years now (ok, not THAT many but enough) I have seen, heard, read and experienced a multitude of reasons for why organizations are experiencing record high levels of turnover and lack of employee engagement/motivation/commitment. There is a ton of research and articles out there about why we are experiencing these problems (most start and end with leadership). These same articles also carry forward in the same theme that the problem is a top down one. While I fundamentally don’t disagree with that, I feel that if we all continue to look skyward for a solution to come down from above, we will all be disappointed to not receive that manna from heaven. (Sorry to go all biblical there).
After having had many discussions over the years with managers, employees, colleagues, friends and family about why they are unhappy in their own jobs, I have struggled at times to help coach them through their personal situation(s) when they are feeling this way. Just because I work in HR doesn’t mean I am perfect! (That was a little HR humour). Here is the thing, I have come to realize that if you spend every minute of every day pining away for a better job, a better life and/or a better company to work for, you will just end up being even more miserable each and every day in your current job. There are, after all, only a handful of Google and Zappos-like companies to work for. Also, for most people, they can’t afford to simply quit their job and walk away to search for the next great employment opportunity; if they could, they wouldn’t have stayed working for a lousy company/manager in the first place!
So what to do? As I alluded to above, instead of being miserable, resentful or feeling trapped, you need to ask yourself this question – “Why did I come to work today?” There could be a hundred responses to this question, none of which are wrong. The key thing is to come to terms with your own personal “why” and make peace with it. Focus on this “why” and what your end game is instead of focusing on what is working against you, what sucks about your job and why you are unhappy.
For a lot of people, the answer to this question is “a pay cheque.” The thing is, that is fine answer! You work and your company pays you for it. This allows you to pay your rent/mortgage, put food on the table and pay for your kids’ braces. That is fine. Focus on that. That is your own “why” and it is important – keep your eyes on that prize. Keep the focus on what is important to you – and this way, you will also do well at work. Remember, the better you do at work, in theory, the more secure you will become in your role. This could translate into you obtaining another/better role where you are now or make you more marketable elsewhere. Either way – you win!
Perhaps your “why” is that your job allows you to balance your work and personal life really well. Maybe you have a special needs child or perhaps you are the sole caregiver for an elderly parent? Either way, your current job, with all its warts, allows you to maintain that balance. Keep your eyes on that prize because it is important to you and that is why you come to work each day – to be there for those important people in your life when they absolutely need you to be there.
Maybe it is because you work with great people? Sure I get it, your job is boring, you aren’t challenged, maybe your boss is a bit of a nincompoop; but at the end of the day, you work with great people. You support each other, you have some laughs and for the most part, you genuinely enjoy seeing them each day – good thing as you spend at least 1/3 of your time with these folks. You can’t put a price tag on that. Remember that next time you get the job “blahs.” You might not get that if change companies.
My point, and I do have one, is that sometimes you need to look at the big picture. Perhaps those drivers of perceived dissatisfaction in your current job are really just minor annoyances? Everyone gets P.O.’d, frustrated, etc. at/with their job at some point. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to move on. Get yourself a bit of perspective on things and ask yourself, “why DID I come to work today?” The answer might surprise you. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.