Evidence suggests only one in five people enjoy going to work, feeling engaged and motivated at all times. That indicates 80% of the workforce is unhappy, unengaged and literally miserable. Given the average full time employee spends most of their day at work, we got a recipe for a bucket of frustrations and lack of productivity in the workforce. Clearly something is wrong with this picture and you definitely don’t want to find yourself with the majority in this case.
The question is, how do you position yourself in that minority? Do you actually enjoy what you’re doing at work? This is crucial for your overall wellbeing and happiness, so you better get this one right. Here are a few tips I personally follow and can report that it made the difference for me.
Focus on things you enjoy at work
Easier said than done, but it can be as simple as that. There’s no way 100% of what you do would be enjoyable, this is just a fact of life. But aiming for a good balance of 80% want-to-do to 20% have-to-do is something to aim for. Spending one full day per week on tasks required for the business but you wish you didn’t have to do them, is more than enough. Same as in our personal lives, you would always have household chores and repetitive tasks that need to be done. The trick is to find the way to spend the rest of your week on work that keeps you engaged. Keep yourself challenged, get out of your comfort zone and learn new skills that are beneficial for both the business and your professional goals.
The main challenge might be to clear that space for yourself. If you’re in a position where so much work is coming your way that only you can do, if people rely on you, you will find yourself solving other people’s problems all day long. Some might find this satisfying, making your “customers” happy, but if you’re in a position where frustration is greater than satisfaction, it means you’re burnt out and looking for a change. I was in a position where I’ve become the System Administrator, and people with all sorts of problems came to me to solve it for them. It could be a challenging and satisfying role at some stage of your career, but when you get tired of it you will need to find a way out – move away from the Super Admin role and educate people how to solve their own problems and self-manage.
Stop doing what you hate doing
This is probably the key to success! You cannot continue doing things you hate doing at work. It will burn you out, it will kill you inside, slowly but surely. Delegate it to someone else, make manual processes that you used to do self-serviceable so other people are able to do it independently without relying on you. Effectively, make your job redundant so you can move on to the next thing, up the ladder, and grow into a more interesting and challenging role.
Some old-school thinking might suggest that this is a stupid idea – why would you make yourself redundant? Isn’t it a good thing when other people rely on me? It gives me a sense of responsibility and job security, the business needs me and I want to keep it that way. Well, if you’re old-school and happy to do the same thing over and over again for the next 30 years, then so be it. But if you’re looking for growth and new challenges, your managers should appreciate how you automated old processes and should encourage you to help other areas of the business to go through the same transition.
Stay away from negativity
One typical advice is simply to stay away from negative people and associate with those who are happy at work. Those miserable people who only look at the negatives are probably the least productive people in the workforce, cause damage to their employer and sooner or later would find themselves out the door as they should. But there’s more to it…
When you or other people complain about things at work – inefficient processes, frustrations and feeling burnt out – turn it around and task yourself and others to solve the problems they are complaining about. It’s very easy to sit on the sideline and complain about things, it’s much harder to solve those problems, so don’t wait for others to do it for you, pull your sleeves up and start cracking at it. Ask yourself and others around you – “what would you do to change it? Can you lead the change yourself, or be part of a new Task Force to drive the change?”. For the right people, this could be a motivation kicker, to be part of the change, to improve, to make your world a little better and happier.
Find the right workplace
I’ve heard horror stories about employers that would make you miserable. I’ve worked with bully managers before. Sometimes you just need to realise that there is no future for you in this particular place. While you’re spending most of your day at work, caring for your job and your career, you also have to make sure your daily experiences support your overall well-being. You want to be happy at work because it can make your life happier, it can make you a better and healthier person. On the flip side, if you’re unhappy, it can have an ongoing devastating impact on your livelihood.
In that sense, you need to find the right workplace. An employer who appreciates your opinions, that supports your growth and allows you to focus on your strengths and do what you love doing. Sounds easy? Unfortunately not, but there are quite a few places out there that actually listen to their employees and value their feedback. Sometimes all you need is finding a good mentor, someone who can guide you on your journey. I was fortunate enough to build a good relationship with my direct manager, and once I came to a crossroad in my career and felt stuck, not knowing what I want to do next, the best advice I’ve got was surprisingly simple – don’t worry about job titles, focus on what you love doing, where your passion is, what would make you want to come to work and do it every single day.
Take ownership on your career development
Put it simply: don’t expect anyone else to do it for you, you are in charge of your happiness and your career progression. Take ownership and swing it to where you want to be, educate yourself by allocating time for online training, take a risk and pick up work you haven’t done before – you can learn a lot “on the job”, so take advantage of the opportunities you have at your current workplace, or elsewhere of course. Don’t wait for your manager to lead the way for you through a career development path – this is old-school thinking. Your employer would most likely want to keep you where you are, especially if you are doing a good job. It’s up to you to push yourself forward, so don’t take the easy ride, out of your comfort-zone you go, that’s where the new and interesting things await.
Hope these 5 tips would help you make a change and keep a smile on your hard-working day. Good Luck!