In my experience, job satisfaction, often a rare thing, is the result of happiness with most or all of the different professional and relational aspects that together make up the job itself, rather than just the role itself. So while you may love the actual work you are doing, if your relationship with your boss and/or your colleagues is bad, there’s a good chance you won’t be skipping into the office in the morning. Or if you get along well with your colleagues but feel that it is in no way helping you to reach certain career ambitions, you may at some point, if you’re not already, begin to feel unmotivated and you may not experience great excitement at the end of the weekend as you look towards another working week.
I’ve grouped these different ‘aspects’ into five broad categories. I’m not saying that by saying ‘no’ to one or more of these categories, it means that you don’t love your job. But, again in my experience, I do believe that someone will move from one role to the next because they consider at least one of these aspects as somewhere on a scale of not good to bad.
These five categories are enjoyment, relationships, salary, challenge and potential. Together they make what I will call my ‘five key theory’. The final two – challenge and potential – requires that we look to the future, and future goals. This then may lead to a job change, whether within the same company or somewhere entirely different. But this is a natural progression and not to be confused with changing jobs due to job dissatisfaction.
So then, the below five categories, should they all be ticked, will, I believe, result in higher job satisfaction.
How much do you enjoy your job on a day-to-day basis?
You may have a limited number of responsibilities or you may be juggling many different responsibilities. You may do the same things every day or one working day could look entirely different to the next. You may be balancing accounts or you may be styling someone’s hair. Whatever your work tasks are, do you enjoy doing them? Or rather, do you wake up in the morning, think ahead to what your day at work will look like, and wish you could do anything but?
How well do you get on with the different people you work with, or for, or above?
These relationships could include your relationship with your boss, your colleagues, or your employees, or potentially your relationships with all three. Do you get along with the people you work with? Granted, our personalities are all very different and there will be at least some ways, no matter how small, where we are different to the people in our workplace, whether that be the way in which they work or their personalities. No relationship is perfect and therefore it makes sense that your work relationships aren’t perfect either. However, if the thought of your boss or your colleague or your employee evokes strong, negative thoughts and/or emotions within you, that will most likely have some effect on the way you view your role as a whole.
Does your salary correspond to your work?
I’m sure most of us would admit that we wouldn’t mind getting paid more, but, realistically, do you think you are getting paid the right amount for the work that you are doing? I’ve found this to be the biggest part of our jobs with which we compromise for the sake of other areas. For example, I know a number of people who have little to no enjoyment for their job but are paid a high salary and are therefore willing to continue in that role, and I think most of us know at least one person like this. On the same logic, but swinging in the other direction, I know people who get paid a low salary but who experience a lot of enjoyment in their work and are therefore willing to stay in their role. However, saying this, unless there are external factors to consider, such as a bad job market or needing the finances to provide for a family, I still maintain that it is very likely that someone will change roles because they consider another aspect or aspects to be bad and having a good salary, if it is the only ‘good’ thing about their job, will not be enough in the end.
Are you challenged by your job?
I have met people who are happy in roles that do not challenge them. They are not bothered by the fact that they are not challenged, rather they enjoy the same routine and they would probably be unsettled by change in their work life. This won’t apply to them. Nor will it apply to someone who is not ambitious. You may not yet have any idea in which direction you would like to be heading work-wise, but if you have some sort of work-related goals, no matter how vague they are, then you will want to be challenged by your work at some level. This could mean that you take on more or new responsibilities, or that you work towards a promotion or a management role, or whatever it may looks like for your specific situation. On the other hand, you could have a very definite career path. You may know exactly where you want to be in the next year or you may even have a five-year work plan or even longer. But if your job is not challenging you in any way, then the chances are that you will stay on the same level for some time to come. And, if you’re someone who enjoys being challenged, then this will be something that will affect your job and may be enough to make you change roles.
Does your current role have future potential?
As mentioned earlier, this is similar to the previous category because both require that you look to the future. Previously, the question was whether your job challenges you. Succeeding in those challenges should open the door to new opportunities, which, whether you progress to a higher position within the company or a new position in a different company, will continue to push you further, and so on, and so on. Future potential is not necessarily the day-to-day responsibilities but rather taking a step back, looking generally at your work as a whole and trying to look ahead to the future. Is your current role taking you in the right direction to reach your goal? This could be one that not everyone thinks of a lot of the time. For some of us, we can get quite focused on the here and now, and tend not to think about where we would like to be in ten years, or five years, or even just one year. Then there are some people who are completely opposite and have their work goals clearly set out. For this sort of person, the future potential of their work will be very important and, if there is none, it would most likely lead them to change roles.
When I think about people I know whose career is very important to them and who are also seemingly very satisfied in their work, a friend of mine immediately comes to mind. She would happily tick all five of these boxes. My friend, who is an advocate, loves everything she does on a day-to-day basis, from the administrative details to battling opposition in court. She and her boss have a very good work relationship and respect one another. Minus minor negative experiences she has had with a colleague, she gets along well with all her colleagues as well as with those who work for her, and she has formed deep relationships with them. It’s not polite to ask for details but judging from her lifestyle, she is earning well! Her salary seems to be in line with her work, which includes factors such as where she lives, company status etc. My friend has always loved being challenged. Consequently, she thrives at work when she is being challenged and would not be satisfied if her job came without challenges. She is also the kind of person who has her five-year, ten-year and many-more-years plans! She knew in school what she wanted to do, she worked hard in university at the degree she knew she needed, she began working in the firm she had her eyes on and she has quickly climbed the ladder in a firm where she will probably continue to be for a good more years to come, continuing to climb that ladder.
From this personal example, it is clear to me why my friend is very happy in her current role and why, should she move to a higher role within the company or to a new role within another company, it will only be due to natural progression, as she continues to follow her chosen career path. And therefore, it has also shown me that my five key theory works!