Do you find your job satisfying? Take the elevator test. When you bump into your boss on the elevator, are you excited to see him/her because you feel pride in your accomplishments? Or do you mumble “hello,” and anxiously watch the floors tick by because you can’t wait to escape?
The most satisfying jobs — no matter the profession — share many things in common, from bosses whom you respect, to colleagues whom you enjoy working with, to an underlying feeling of autonomy.
A second diagnostic is the “five-year test.” Can you see yourself five years from now still working at this company? If so, chances are you have snagged one of the most satisfying jobs. Conversely, if you can’t muster the energy or enthusiasm for the work, and cannot see yourself staying at your company for more than a year, it’s time to start looking for a better place to apply your talents.
Here’re some qualities to look for as you seek out the most satisfying jobs:
1. A Boss Whom You Admire
Bosses set the tone of an organization. If your boss is someone who inspires you, count yourself lucky. Job satisfaction soars when bosses live their values, act with integrity, and have a transparent and honest communication style. You will rally behind them and give your best effort.
On the other hand, putting up with a bad boss can make work miserable and is the primary reason why one in two people leave their jobs.
2. A Boss Who Supports Your Growth
When your boss acts more like a coach than a taskmaster, it lets you stretch. You feel like your boss is grooming you for new roles and responsibilities, and it’s motivating! They bring you exciting projects and allows you to run with them without micro-managing. They check in to see how you’re faring, of course — but not all the time. Even better, once you complete your project, they give you full credit.
When your boss wants you to succeed, you’ll revel in job satisfaction.
Savvy businesses realize that, even beyond financial security, job happiness equates with opportunities for their employees. AT&T, for example, offers workers a fast-track for earning certificates in company growth areas like artificial intelligence and data analytics.
3. You Feel like an Entrepreneur Within Your Organization
On day one, your boss asks you how you think you can best contribute to the organization, and after hearing your ideas, gives you the leeway to go off and pursue them. Better still, no one watches when you clock in and out, which doesn’t matter anyway because you can’t wait to arrive to work on Mondays and are reluctant to walk out on Friday afternoons.
You have never felt more productive.
4. Your Boss, Your Boss’s Boss, and the Company Keep Their Promises
When you first interviewed, perhaps you didn’t receive the salary you wanted, but your boss promised you a performance review in six months. At that time, they gave you a raise. Or perhaps after your first year on the job, you asked for a promotion. You were told it was too soon, but that you’d receive a promotion after another year. And then you did!
When you work for someone who keeps their promises, you will experience enduring job satisfaction. Hopefully whenever your boss makes you a promise, they informs their higher-ups so that their promises can be fulfilled.
5. Your Boss Has an Open Door Policy
When you need to reach your boss, you can because they are accessible. Their door is always open. They don’t wave you away or make you feel silly for asking questions. You believe that they are happy to offer you guidance.
When you ask for informal feedback, they make time in their schedule for you. Even in this age of disappearing mentors, you feel you have found a wonderful career sherpa: your boss.
6. Colleagues Whom You Enjoy Working With
When you work well with your colleagues, you are happy to pitch in and help when needed. You genuinely feel a part of a cohesive team rather than a cluster of ruthless coworkers vying for the next plum assignment.
Working with friendly, caring people removes the strife of workplace politics. It fosters a sense of trust and congeniality among team members that translates into incredible job satisfaction.
At Zappos, the online shoe retailer, the company culture has a team-first emphasis that underscores a fun, family-type atmosphere. Employees are friends, and they regularly get together outside of work.
While socializing at the office may be perceived as time wasted in certain company cultures, research shows that an atmosphere of camaraderie often gives companies a competitive edge.
7. A Company Mission You Agree with and Find Important
You’ll find true job satisfaction when your company’s values align with your own. And you are not alone. A recent survey found that nearly three-quarters of employees are more engaged in their work when their organization is “purpose-driven.”
The outdoor clothing retailer, Patagonia, for example, is an outspoken advocate for the environment. Its mission statement says succinctly: “We’re in business to save our home planet.” Patagonia employees share in the company’s philosophy of providing durable outdoor clothing while also investing in protecting the environment.
8. You Feel Appreciated
Hearing a heartfelt “thank you” goes a long way toward feeling appreciated. Feeling like you are an essential part of a thriving team also boosts your job satisfaction. If you’re lucky enough to have a boss that offers praise for your accomplishments, preferably publicly to the rest of the organization, chances are you feel deeply invested in your work.
Beyond receiving kudos for individual feats, team outings can also help morale. Celebratory lunches or good weather excursions — such as closing shop for the afternoon and going en masse to a baseball game — will do wonders for encouraging your positive attitude toward the work environment.
Perks, such as gym memberships and transit passes, can add to the sense that your company appreciates you. Apple, the tech giant, has perfected the art of offering amazing perks, including an on-site gym and regular beer bashes complete with celebrity guests.
9. The Company Is Poised for Growth
Whether you work at a dot com start-up or a company that has existed for a century, it’s always more fun — and more career enhancing — to be at an organization that’s doing well. There will be less cutthroat competition and more room for professional growth.
Knowing that your company leadership is competently steering the organization on an upward trajectory does much to buoy your job satisfaction.
You won’t want to overlook some other important qualities that, when you can add them to the list above, will give you claim to the most satisfying job. Your company:
- Meets your logistical needs, such as working remotely/
- Meets your lifestyle goals, such as bike storage and showers if you prefer to bike to work.
- Gives you the freedom and flexibility to achieve the perfect work-life balance.
- Playtime spills over into your work time because your coworkers are all part of your friend group.
- Your boss and coworkers are all evolved human beings and emotional intelligence flourishes in the office.
The Bottom Line
Right now, we are in a job-hunters’ market. Many companies are actively looking for employees. That fact gives you a little more leverage when you are seeking employment. Figure out the one or two qualities in a job that would really boost your quality of life, and see if you can obtain them.
On the other hand, if you are not satisfied with your current situation, you can try to see if you might improve on it from the inside. Maybe your company can help you go to graduate school at night or enhance your title so you will have an easier time attracting new clients to the firm.
Today there’s no need to waste years in a sub-par situation. You deserve to work where you can do what you love among people whom you respect. Your company will thrive, and so will you.
More About a Fulfilling Career
- The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career
- How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career
- 10 Reasons Why Following Your Passion Is More Important Than Money
Featured photo credit: Studio Republic via unsplash.com
|||^||Gallup: Employees Want a Lot More From Their Managers|
|||^||Forbes: Promoting Employee Happiness Benefits Everyone|
|||^||The Detroit News: Get ready for Gen Z, employers. First hint: They’re not millennials|
|||^||Enplug: 5 Types of Corporate Culture: Which One Is Your Company?|
|||^||Gallup: State of the American Workplace|
|||^||Patagonia: Mission Statement|
|||^||Inc.: Apple Employees Benefits|