Can’t Get No Satisfaction? 7 Steps to Complete Job Satisfaction

By Maren Hogan

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“Oh so you hate your job? There’s a support group for that. It’s called everybody and we meet at the bar.” - George Carlin

Job satisfaction. It’s often measured by a paycheck, the quality of team relationships or how much fulfillment you get from completing the work you do. Understanding satisfaction is broken down into intrinsic and extrinsic factors allows for a greater understanding of success.

Intrinsic job satisfaction derives from the tasks performed and the kind of work being done. While extrinsic job satisfaction comes from external factors like work conditions, working relationships with coworkers and management and even your paycheck, of course!

The great news: we have control of all of these factors intrinsically and extrinsically. The bad news: it’s not so easy to maneuver these aspects to work in your favor, let alone the employees you manage. Once you can identify, address and overcome intrinsic and extrinsic obstacles, true job satisfaction can be possible.

The first step is to identify which factor is negatively impacting you or your workforce the most. The questions that need to be asked are “Am I unhappy with the type of work I’m doing?” or “Am I unhappy with the organization, people, pay I’m doing the work for?”

If you’re unhappy with the work you’re doing, but love your office and the people who make it up, then you’re intrinsically disatisfied. If you absolutely love the work you’re doing, but wish you were compensated more or got along with your coworkers better, then you’re extrinsically dissatisfied. If you’re unhappy with both factors, then this list is definitely for you!

Fixing Intrinsic disatisfaction:

Define work values - How can you peg what’s bothering you or your workforce if you don’t even understand the kind of work you, the employees or the company as a whole value? Use work values assessments that allow you to not only identify aspects of work you value most, but the work your organization and employees value as well. Vitru and Elevated Careers both offer a free and insightful assessment. It’s hard enough to keep yourself inspired on the long days, so as a leader, it’s better to have as much information around what motivates you and your workforce as humanly possible.

Weigh the pros and cons - Pros and cons lists will not work in every situation, but if you find yourself really hitting a wall, divide paper into two columns and note the ups and downs of your current gig. If you’re seeing more negatives around a particularly difficult project, then hold fast. Chances are you’re going through a rough patch and might need some support from other leaders within your organization. If the cons outweigh the pros in the type of work you’re doing, then it may be time to speak up! Set up a succession career plan with your manager, but be patient. If you love where you work, take the time to see through the career plan your manager has created for you.

Put things into perspective - Being realistic about the work you’re doing can be hard, especially if you’re unhappy. Take a step back and look at how your work contributes to your organization. As a leader in talent acquisition, your work not only supports the organization, it makes all accomplishments possible. Any performance awards or sales goals met are a direct correlation to the hires you’ve helped make and retain. Also, make sure you how your organization is giving back to the community or society as a whole. Sometimes, that’s the type of reminder you need on particularly bad days. Others will appreciate it too since 61% of employees say it is important for them to work at an organization that is socially responsible, and 71% of today’s workers want to work for an employer whose CEO is actively involved in corporate responsibility and environmental issues.

Note your timing. Intrinsic dissatisfaction is more than just that frustrating week when quarterly reports are due. If you are frustrated and unhappy on a regular basis, you’re dissatisfied, but if you only find yourself making lists and surfing for new jobs every few weeks, you might be able to tie it back to a difficult deadline, client or task within your overall job.

How to Fix an Extrinsic Satisfaction Problem:

Understand your employees. - Conflict between coworkers and upper management is usually a result of miscommunications and misunderstandings of each other’s personalities and work preferences. As an HR professional, you are no stranger to that. Thankfully, with assessments and tests you can pinpoint differences and learn how to compromise and work best with employees who are different from you (this also helps when facilitating a solution between two conflicting team members. This tool has literally saved us time and money because we’re able to hire better and build better project teams too!

Learn what you’re (really) worth. - If you have a problem with how you’re being compensated, you might want to do your research. Did you know PayScale conducted a recent study and found that 79% of employees paid above market rate actually believed they were paid at or below it? This compensation misperception is all too common, and you might be thinking you’re more than you’re actually worth (sorry, but it’s the truth). While it’s great to believe in your abilities and be confident, an inflated perception of compensation could be damaging to your extrinsic satisfaction. On the other hand, if you do find out you’re being paid below market rate, as 17% of employees in that PayScale survey were, it might be time to negotiate a new a pay increase.

Find or be a mentor - Studies show that employees who participate in mentoring programs have a higher job satisfaction, and the good news is you don’t need a formal mentorship program to find a mentor! Find a mentor in your department who has been around the company for a little longer and can show you the ropes, connect you with other employees in your department or cross-departmentally and give you tips and tricks for getting the most out of your work environment that they’ve generally picked up on. Be open to mentoring others as well; you never know what you stand to learn from a fresh perspective.  

While hating your job will get you no sympathy from George Carlin, times are changing. You don’t have to work at a job you hate but you will have to manage people whose values don’t align with your own. Use career matching tools, compensation sites and personality assessment tools to figure out how you can get the most out of your team. Be sure to use these new approaches to your job satisfaction when speaking with dissatisfied subordinates. If they come to you with similar concerns, recognize they have taken the time to consider how they align with your organization and want to make it work.


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