We are often told that if we want to be happy with our job we should do what we love. We’re encouraged to choose a line of work that we would continue doing even if we weren’t getting paid for it. Some people may eventually find such a job (I did), but what about those who can’t always do what they enjoy? How can they enjoy what they do? What can they do in order to maximize job satisfaction?
Several years ago British economist Andrew Oswald looked at the research and outlined eight key factors:
Work for a Non-Profit Organization — On a job satisfaction scale of 1 to 7 with 7 being “completely satisfied,” people who worked for non-profits averaged 5.7.
Become an entrepreneur — You may not be able to make as much money working for yourself but you will have more independence. In terms of job satisfaction score, working for oneself scored just below non-profits with an average of 5.6.
Be a woman — Even though women statistically make less money than men and have fewer opportunities for advancment, they tend to enjoy their jobs more.
Grow old — Job satisfaction follows a U-shaped pattern. It starts high, flattens off in a person’s 30′s and then increases steadily until retirement.
Think Small — People who work for large corporations are more likely to become fed up with their work than those who have a job in a small workplace.
Pace Yourself — Satisfaction is low in places where the boss controls the work and higher where colleagues or customers determine the pace at which the work must be done.
Pay is Relative — Naturally, the amount of money that you make influences how happy you are with a job. But it is not and absolute amount of pay that matters, but an amount relative to your perceived worth. Most people have a preconceived idea of how much a particular job should pay based on the qualifications involved. If they make an equal or higher amount than that perception, their satisfaction level remains high. If the pay doesn’t stack up, they feel devalued and underpayed.
Don’t Be Overqualified — It’s often regarded as a sick joke to be turned down for being “too qualified.” To the unemployed, a paycheck is a paycheck. But research shows that people with qualifications that exceed what their job requires are more likely to be unhappy with the work.
So what is the ultimate formula for achieving job satisfaction? Be a woman nearing retirement who works for her own small non-profit organization, doesn’t make too little money or have too many superfluous qualifications, and controls the pace of her work.
Not exactly the archetype of the happy worker you had in mind, is it?