Zookeepers, despite their low wages and work environment (just consider all that poop scooping), are some of the most passionate, engaged and satisfied workers among all of us. Surprised? They, like people working in the health care field (in addition to public service workers, social workers and teachers), are likely to tell you they believe their work is meaningful – that it has purpose and contributes positively to the world – or that the job is their calling. And when you find personal meaning in your job, you're more likely not only to report higher satisfaction with your work, but also with life outside of the office. Employees who consider their work meaningful are more likely to overlook many of the daily hassles that most of us would probably complain about and are less likely to be absent from work or to report feelings of depression.
But what about those of us who weren't touched by fate? As it turns out, even if you weren't born to do the work you do, if you want to find job satisfaction, there are some tactics you can use to go from routine to rewarding. Strategies you can try as a way to improve your satisfaction situation boil down to one thing: This is a do-it-yourself project. While you look for that job you'd be perfect for, it's your decision to turn the job you have into a job you like.
Employees who've been around the block may want to try mentoring a new colleague or intern as a way to re-engage with and re-envision work that may have become mundane. Challenge yourself to break out of a task-list that's become tedious or trivial by volunteering for a new project, or work on your own personal growth by learning a new skill or pursuing job training. Keep an open mind when thinking about the positives of your job; you may find that your work relationships are meaningful to you and developing them fires up your creativity and desire to collaborate, or that the work you've chosen allows you to have a greater quality of life outside of work.
Author's Note: How Job Satisfaction Works
I came across an interesting statistic while reading research about our job satisfaction; I believe it was LinkedIn that found millennials like to have friends at work. No, that's not the interesting part. This is: As many as 57 percent of millennials say that having work buddies makes them feel happy and more productive, but then 68 percent admit they'd drop an at-work BFF for a promotion. So much for "Be true to your work, your word and your friend," eh?
More Great Links
- Bunderson, J. Stuart and Jeffery A. Thompson. "The Call of The Wild: Zookeepers, Callings, and the Dual Edges Of Deeply Meaningful Work." Administrative Science Quarterly. Vol. 54, no. 1. Pages 32-57. (Dec. 26, 2014) March 2009. http://asq.sagepub.com/content/54/1/32.abstract
- Cho, Yoon Jik and James L. Perry. "Intrinsic Motivation and Employee Attitudes: Role of Managerial Trustworthiness, Goal Directedness, and Extrinsic Reward Expectancy." Review of Public Personnel Administration. Vol. 32, no. 4. Pages 382-406. December 2012. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://intl-rop.sagepub.com/content/32/4/382
- Dean, Jeremy. "10 Psychological Keys to Job Satisfaction." PsyBlog. July 19, 2011. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/07/10-psychological-keys-to-job-satisfaction.php
- Grant, Kelli B. "Americans hate their jobs, even with perks." USA Today. June 30, 2013. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/06/30/americans-hate-jobs-office-perks/2457089/
- Gregory, Kristen. "The Importance of Employee Satisfaction." Neumann University. 2011. (Dec. 26, 2014) https://www.neumann.edu/academics/divisions/business/journal/Review2011/Gregory.pdf
- Harter, Jim. "Jobs Outlook Grim in Countries With More Disengaged Workers." Gallup. Oct. 31, 2014. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.gallup.com/poll/179096/jobs-outlook-grim-countries-disengaged-workers.aspx
- Hill, Brian. "What Are the Factors Affecting Job Satisfaction?" Houston Chronicle. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://smallbusiness.chron.com/factors-affecting-job-satisfaction-20114.html
- Mayo Clinic. "Job satisfaction: How to make work more rewarding." Dec. 8, 2012. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/job-satisfaction/art-20046539
- Perman, Cindy. "The best (and worst) jobs for 2014." CNBC. April 19, 2014. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.cnbc.com/id/101582641#.
- Rosso, Brent. "On the meaning of work: A theoretical integration and review." Research in Organizational Behavior. Vol. 30. Pages 91-127. 2010. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191308510000067
- Saad, Lydia. "U.S. Workers Least Happy With Their Work Stress and Pay." Gallup. Nov. 12, 2012. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.gallup.com/poll/158723/workers-least-happy-work-stress-pay.aspx
- Smith, Jacquelyn. "The 25 Most Meaningful Jobs That Pay Well." Forbes. Aug. 7, 2013. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/08/07/the-25-most-meaningful-jobs-that-pay-well/
- Sorenson, Susan. "How to Tackle U.S. Employees' Stagnating Engagement." Gallup. June 11, 2013. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/162953/tackle-employees-stagnating-engagement.aspx
- Sypniewska, Barbara. "Evaluation of Factors Influencing Job Satisfaction." Contemporary Economics. Vol. 8, no. 1. Pages 57-72. March 31, 2014. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2435040
- Syptak, J. Michael. "Job Satisfaction: Putting Theory Into Practice." Family Practice Management. Vol. 6, no. 9. Pages 26-30. October 1999. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.aafp.org/fpm/1999/1000/p26.html
- The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. "Determinants of Job Satisfaction in the Workplace." (Dec. 26, 2014) http://psychology.thechicagoschool.edu/resource/industrial-organizational/determinants-of-job-satisfaction-in-the-workplace
- Victor, Justina. "A Research Report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) - 2012 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: How Employees Are Dealing With Uncertainty." Society for Human Resource Management. October 2012. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Documents/12-0537%202012_jobsatisfaction_fnl_online.pdf
- Weber, Lauren. "U.S. Workers Can't Get No (Job) Satisfaction." The Wall Street Journal. June 18, 2014. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2014/06/18/u-s-workers-cant-get-no-job-satisfaction/
- Weir, Kirsten. "More than job satisfaction." Monitor on Psychology. American Psychological Association. Vol. 44, no. 11. Page 39. December 2013. (Dec. 26, 2014) http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/12/job-satisfaction.aspx