Are you satisfied, dissatisfied or complacent with your job; is it time to jump ship?

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Job satisfaction has been studied and theorized about for years and both employers and employees alike have pursued many different paths in order to produce or obtain it. However, even with all the studies that have been completed, there is no uniform formula for finding job satisfaction. It is unique, dependent on a variety of factors, each weighted differently by everyone. It all depends on personal preferences, goals and aspirations. Our jobs are often viewed as a defining station in our lives; as they can provide extrinsic value, such as wealth and status, as well as intrinsic value, such as happiness and accomplishment. All of which may have some level of societal influence, but ultimately, your goals are yours and yours alone.

So, you define your satisfaction levels through what you value in your life. In order to obtain any level of job satisfaction you first need to understand what you want out of a job. Then decide whether you are satisfied.

Ask yourself if your job satisfies your wants and needs and if it is putting you on a path toward the accomplishment of your goals/aspirations?

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Values

  • Intrinsic – What is your emotional investment; is the work you are doing challenging and do you enjoy doing it? Being emotionally invested in what you do can definitely motivate engagement as the drive to accomplish tasks comes from the emotional reward upon completion.
  • Extrinsic – External or physical motivators; consider physical working conditions, workplace culture, policies, practices, benefits, etc. For example, think about the physical environment you are in, is it positive or negative? Can you work collaboratively and learn from the others you work with? Obviously you will need to be okay with the monetary value placed on you as an employee, but there will most likely be much more to finding satisfaction than just monetary compensation.

Realistic Expectations

  • Compensation expectations need to be reasonable. Money is a necessity, we all understand that, but you need to be reasonable in your expectations regarding your compensation. Consider the education and experience you have as well as the industry and geographic location, you work and live in. Is your expectation actually attainable? If it isn’t realistic your satisfaction level will also be skewed.
  • It is also important to understand the industry averages regarding the hours you will work, the workload you will have, and what level of commitment you need to have to achieve your goals.
  • Realized career goals are important. For instance, getting an entry level position and expecting to manage a team of 20+ people in that role is probably an unlikely scenario. However, when you understand that getting an entry level role with a track to management is placing you on the path toward your goal, you can define realistic expectations of your job. This understanding can be potentially motivating and can create satisfaction with your job until you have grown into the next stage of your career.

Satisfaction Assessments

Your career needs and wants are defined according to your goals. You ask “What happened”? My work isn’t too hard, my hours aren’t that bad but, I’m not satisfied, I used to be motivated and engaged with my work…

It might be that you are not entirely dissatisfied but are becoming complacent having just lost track of your goals for a while. However, complacency can eventually lead to dissatisfaction if left unchecked for too long.

Sometimes we just get too busy with our everyday tasks. Sometimes it truly is lack of motivation that is holding us back. This is what leads us to complacency, and what we need to keep in check. What it really comes down to is whether you are advocating your own growth and if you are receiving the advocacy to grow from your employer. We need to leave complacency behind and take the reigns in order to achieve the goals we want. I believe that we all inherently want to grow and to progress professionally, it’s in our nature; however, we have to keep motivated to do so.

Avoid dissatisfaction through continuous improvement! If, after assessing your goals and aspirations (wants and needs) at your current position you find yourself becoming complacent or dissatisfied seek out ways to make improvements. If you have attempted to make the necessary improvements and have become disengaged, disillusioned and dissatisfied, it may be time to jump ship and get back on track elsewhere.

If you are thinking about going elsewhere, consider the following questions before taking the leap.

Application of your skills and talents:

  • How are you currently applying them?
  • Are you able to improve upon the skills you have?

Work environment:

  • Does the environment promote positivity not hostility?
  • Is there harmony between workers and the ability to collaborate, innovate and grow together?
  • Are you able to contribute / make decisions?
  • Is there a plan for your growth?

Vision alignment

  • Are you progressing along the path to reach your goals / aspirations?
  • Do your personal goals align with those of the company?
  • Do your skills and experience align with your Compensation / Benefits?


Additional job satisfaction information:

Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement – SHRM

Job Satisfaction – University of Rhode Island

Creating Job Satisfaction – Mindtools