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Small Business Digest


Four Factors To Consider In Resolving Job Dissatisfaction

Over half of U.S. workers are dissatisfied with their jobs, and problems have persisted unresolved for at least two decades without improvements on the horizon, says one respected non-profit business group.

In a recent study it released this spring, the Conference Board cited this problem as a major vexation facing American business leaders.

Another study this year, by, indicates 60 percent of respondents were likely to be searching for a new job within the next six months. None of this is surprising, since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the typical American worker holds nine different jobs before age 32.

All things considered, job satisfaction seems unlikely and the grass never gets greener no matter how many times a person changes jobs.

Studies show the same dissatisfactions have plagued generations of workers: job stress, unpleasant working conditions, long hours, monotony, ineffective supervision, insufficient training, poor internal communication, lack of recognition, rising costs, low pay, and shrinking benefits.

What are the effects of these issues? Increased complaints, psychological disengagement, low levels of involvement and organizational commitment, poor performance, low productivity, high turnover, and illness. In fact, job stress is estimated to cost U.S. business approximately $300 billion annually.

Why Job Dissatisfactions Persist Despite Efforts to Improve Them
In an attempt to fix job dissatisfaction, employers have tried to improve recruitment and selection, develop new hire orientations and training, establish realistic career opportunities, create incentives and rewards to recognize performance and contributions, offer flexible work arrangements, enhance the content of jobs, encourage leadership involvement of employees, and so on.

Regardless of the effort or how it's packaged, such measures to improve job satisfaction are ultimately intended to benefit the business. Employer efforts to satisfy will never be completely successful or long lasting because satisfaction is dependent upon someone fulfilling a condition or expectation-and the outcome may or may not satisfy. Despite these realities, employees still expect employers to make them satisfied, while employers still feel an obligation to try.

An Alternative to Job Satisfaction
The same efforts on the part of employers should continue. But in addition, employees should be trained to recognize their own career contentment, rather than expect employers to make them satisfied. This option always existed but was never developed as a tangible solution until recently.

Career contentment is a state of mind that comes from within; it is not dependent on what an employer provides. That's why some people can be content in their jobs despite enduring poor working conditions, difficult coworkers, or a bad day. People who have achieved contentment find meaning in their work, are resilient in the face of workplace challenges, and have a vision of how this job fits into long-term career objectives. Career contentment means you exercise control over your thoughts, emotions, reasoning, talents, and choices to have and enjoy the career you desire without depending on employers to make you satisfied. 

The most persistent questions that arise during a person's career are these: "Is this all there is?" And, "Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing?" Employees expect to be made satisfied, but what they really long for is the contentment derived from using their talents to fulfill their calling and purpose. If all they cared about were income, bonuses, and working conditions, many people wouldn't be in the jobs they have. There's more to career than employer-provided satisfaction.

What Employers Can Do to Encourage Career Contentment
From the employer's point of view, there is no benefit to having the wrong employee in the wrong job, or having employees who are complaining when they have options to do something about it. According to Jeff Garton, founder of Career Contentment, Inc., and author of Career Contentment: Don't Settle for Anything Less (ASTD Press, 2008) there are four factors to helping employees resolve job dissatisfaction with career contentment.  Those are:

* Beyond employer efforts to keep employees satisfied, which they should, employers' emphasis should be on matching employees with meaningful work. An employee who feels fulfilled and supported in the pursuit of meaningful work is a resilient employee.

* The employer should tell employees early and often that it is the employee's responsibility to recognize and pursue their own career contentment, rather than expecting employers to make them satisfied. Employees who learn to take charge of their own happiness at work learn to be self-sufficient and are highly motivated.

* Create a culture of resiliency. Employees who are trained in resiliency skills tend to be happier workers. They accept challenges, rather than complain about them. As long as their job fulfills their calling and purpose, resilient employees tend to stay.

* Don't try to hold on to employees who are discontent in their work. These employees are probably in the wrong job or have not developed a predisposition to recognize their contentment. If despite their efforts and the employer's assistance they cannot find contentment, they should consider changing jobs or careers. An employer cannot make employees happy; employees have to do this themselves.

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