Do You Want a Job or the Right Job?



As a career coach, I talk mostly with two kinds of people: employed or in transition to another job. Sadly, people in both groups have one thing in common: most of them are unhappy. For those in transition, the unhappiness is self-explanatory, but why such a high level of unhappiness for those who are lucky to have an employer?

Several recent articles cover this subject. People who still work spend longer hours at it, and they face higher levels of stress. There’s no question that employee satisfaction is at an all-time low and that it has an impact on people’s health as well as relationships with family and friends.

A 2010 study found that in the United States, 55% of employees were not satisfied with their jobs! This is the highest level of dissatisfaction ever recorded, and the trend toward such dissatisfaction has strengthened steadily in the past 25 years. That means that unhappiness in the workplace is not directly related to the current economic downturn.

Unhappiness at work is not isolated. Unfortunately, it affects not only the unhappy people themselves but also those surrounding them. A recent Swedish study found a direct link between one’s relationship with one’s manager and the impact that that relationship has on one’s health: men who had toxic supervisors increased their risk of heart attack by 50%. A different study revealed that people of average height who felt unhappy at work added as much as five pounds to their weight.

A different, long-term study dealing with the impact of unhappiness at work confirmed that there is a strong correlation between one’s job satisfaction and one’s life satisfaction. Clearly, our thoughts, our emotions, and our performance on the job affect our behaviors away from the job and thus are affecting our loved ones.

What a job seeker can learn from all this is that it is of utmost importance to find out about a company’s culture, about the work conditions there, and as much as possible about the person one will report to before accepting the job. The sad—but practical—part is that even if one gets a great job at a great company with a great boss, in today’s economy things change so fast, and many of those changes are totally out of the control of the employee. So, what does one need so that work life harmonizes relationships and doesn’t destroy them? Luck—lots of it.