The Society for Human Resource Management’s exhaustive employee satisfaction survey is a blueprint for managers and executives who take their employees’ happiness seriously. If you’re looking to improve the workplace environment for your subordinates, click that link and don’t come back.
If you’re an employee looking for ways to find meaning in your own work, without direct help from your manager or company leaders, try these four strategies. (And, while you’re at it, ask your boss or HR contact to read the SHRM survey.)
- Seek New Challenges and Out-of-Range Projects
Monster, the job search giant, calls these “new-to-you responsibilities.”
Get in the habit of saying “yes,” even when your instinct is to say “no.” It’s always tough to take on extra work, but you never know when you’ll come across a life-changing opportunity that uncovers a hidden talent or adds a new line item to your resume.
Don’t be afraid to pursue side projects, either. The top-rated employers routinely allow employees to tackle work that’s only tangentially related to their core responsibilities – reasoning, correctly, that stimulated employees are happier from 9 to 5.
- Have Confidence in Your Accomplishments…
It’s inevitable that you’ll compare yourself to your colleagues and industry peers. That’s just the way of the world.
It’s fine to compare yourself to others. It’s not so great to let those comparisons gnaw at your sense of security.
“The socially conditioned comparisons of our acquisitions and accomplishments may stimulate productivity,” says Arnold Siegel, founder of Autonomy and Life, “but just as often, they produce anxiety and worry.”
No matter how accomplished others appear, take comfort in your own accomplishments. And leverage whatever inadequacy you do feel to aim higher – not shut down at the first hint of adversity.
- Roll With the Changes
It’s a tough time to be a mediocre employee.
According to Dan Schawbel of The Muse, “[Employers] want to be 100% confident they are hiring someone who can get the job done flawlessly and add value to the company.” That’s why they’ve been slow to hire and quick to fire for years.
If you want to find meaning in your work – and carve out some much-needed job security while you’re at it – you need to be willing to roll with whatever changes come your way. At many companies, especially early-stage startups in volatile industries, those changes come thick and fast. By the time you’ve let your guard down, it’s already too late.
- Ask for a Raise
Risky? Perhaps. Warranted? Oh, yes.
If you truly believe that you’re indispensable to your employer, and that you’re worth more than you’re currently being given, you’ve already made the case for a raise. All you have to do is make the ask. If your boss resists, it might be time to prove just how indispensable you really are – to an employer that’s willing to treat you better.
Alternatively, look for creative ways to boost your earning power – and value as an employee – without switching jobs.