Way too many people hate their jobs. Exactly how many is hard to say, but depending on which study you believe, somewhere between 20 percent and 40 percent of employees are miserable at work.
And to a lot of people, this is just the way things are. Once when I was in a company to do a project, a staff told me that, “Of course I hate my job — that’s why they pay me to do it.”
Many people still have the attitude that if you’re enjoying work, you’re not working hard enough and that the only path to career success is to work long hours and sacrifice everything else in your life for a job that makes you miserable. Alexander Kjerulfpoints out the following five ways hating your job can harm your health:
1: Hating your job can make you gain weight.
If you dislike your job and see the pounds piling on, the two could well be related. Studies have shown that an unhappy work life robs you of the energy you need to exercise and make good dietary choices. Or to put it another way: After a long frustrating day at work, you are more likely to go for a tub of ice cream and less likely to go for a run.
2: Hating your job can lower your immune system.
It’s commonly thought that workplace stress comes from being too busy at work or working too many hours, but stress researchers are starting to rethink that assumption. They now say instead that workplace stress comes from being in a near-constant state of negative affect, i.e., feeling bad most of the time at the office.
If you work really hard, but feel appreciated at work and see your efforts paying off, you’re not as likely to become stressed. On the other hand, if you’re being treated badly, or if nothing you do at work is ever recognized and you spend your work days in a more or less permanent state of frustration, worry, and depression, you can become stressed even if you only work 30 hours a week. And studies have shown that workplace stress harms the immune system and increases the risk of depression.
3: Hating your job can ruin your relationship.
One of the worst things about hating your job is that it doesn’t stop at the end of the work day. For many people, it spills over and affects their whole life.
One study showed that people who are unhappy at work have less satisfying sex lives and more problems in their relationships and researchers have found a clear link between a good relationship with your spouse and overall health. For instance, men who have a good relationship with their significant other live six years longer on average. Women only get two and half years out of the deal, probably because they live longer than men in general.
4: Hating your job can rob you of sleep.
It is common knowledge that consistently sleeping a full night does wonders for the human body. The restorative work done while bodies are at rest cannot be underestimated. People who are miserable at work often find it harder to fall asleep or they don’t sleep as well. You’ve probably been there: lying awake, staring at the ceiling of the ticking clock on the nightstand as visions of your to-do list or frustrating co-worker dance through your head. This is bad for your health because sleep restores the body and strengthens the immune system.
5: Hating your job increases your risk of serious illness.
And finally, hating your job directly increases your risk of contracting some dangerous diseases. One study of more than 20,000 U.S. nurses found that the nurses who were unhappy at work had a higher risk of getting sick, and we’re talking serious diseases like some forms of cancer, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes.
All of this means, that if you hate your job, you have to act on it. You have to either figure out how to improve your current work situation or you have to find another job where you can be happy. The only option you don’t have is to do nothing because staying in that job you hate can make you sick. It can ultimately kill you.
Well, it turns out that not only is this kind of thinking completely wrong (studies show that people who like their jobs are actually more productive and successful at work). Emily Esfahani Smith expressed the following that you can find meaning in nearly any role in nearly any organization. After all, most companies create products or services to fill a need in the world, and all employees contribute in their own ways. The key is to become more conscious about the service you’re providing — as a whole and personally.
How? One way is to connect with the end user or beneficiary. In one study, Grant and his colleagues found that fundraisers in a university call center who’d been introduced to a student whose education was being paid for by the money raised spent 142% more time on the phone with potential donors and raised 171% more cash than peers who hadn’t met those scholarship recipients. Whether your customers are external or internal, an increased focus on them, and how you help them live their lives or do their jobs, can help you find more meaning in yours.
Another strategy is to constantly remind yourself of your organization’s overarching goal.
There’s a great story about a janitor that John F. Kennedy ran into at NASA in 1962. When the president asked him what he was doing, the man said, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” Life Is Good is an apparel company best known for colorful T-shirts with stick-figure designs, but its mission is to spread optimism and hope throughout the world, and that’s something that even warehouse employees understand.
If you work for an accounting firm, you’re helping people or companies with the unpleasant task of doing their taxes. If you’re a fast-food cook, you’re providing a family with a cheap and delicious meal. Each of these jobs serves a purpose in the world.
Even if you can’t get excited about your company’s mission or customers, you can still adopt a service mindset by thinking about how your work helps those you love. Consider a study of women working in a coupon processing factory in Mexico. Researchers led by Jochen Menges, a professor at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, found that those who described the work as dull were generally less productive than those who said it was rewarding.
But the effects went away for those in the former group who saw the work (however tedious) as a way to support their families. With that attitude, they were just as productive and energized as the coupon processors who didn’t mind the task. Many people understand the purpose of their jobs in a similar manner. The work they do helps them pay their mortgage, go on vacation — or even support a hobby that gives meaning to their lives, like volunteer tutoring, gardening, or woodworking.
Not everyone finds their one true calling. But that doesn’t mean we’re doomed to work meaningless jobs. If we reframe our tasks as opportunities to help others, any occupation can feel more significant.
NisaChitakasem recommends the following 10 things you can do to make things better as you make your current job your true calling.
1. Negotiate changes in your job description. Talk to your boss about altering your workload or the kind of work you currently do. Whether you’re overworked and overwhelmed, or completely unchallenged, your boss will understand that you will never be as productive as you could be unless something gives.
Just being able to have this conversation can be a great start to shaping something new. Your goal is to come up with a solution that will not only be best for you but also work for your boss, your team, and your organization.
2. Arrange to work with different people. Even if you don’t necessarily hate your co-workers, it can refresh your outlook on your work and the aspects of it that you hate to involve different people. On upcoming projects, ask to be teamed with individuals you don’t usually work with or even interact with around the office.
On a more informal basis, you can ask these people to react to various ideas or include them in your brainstorming sessions. Another possibility is to find out whether your organization has retained external consultants who you could team up with on certain assignments. Mix it up to get a new take on things.
3. Seek synergy. If you already know which people you enjoy working with and work well with, find more opportunities to collaborate with them. Internally this could mean asking permission to work on your next presentation with someone you know you have good chemistry with.
Externally, there may be individual suppliers and customers with whom you have a particularly good rapport. Nurture these relationships, strengthen these bonds and take an active role in continuing to grow and develop them. If you’ve previously worked well with specific external consultants, consider asking for their input again.
4. Transfer to a different team or department. If there’s nothing going for you where you are, think about maneuvering a sideways shift. See if your boss is open to the idea of your transferring to a different business area. Think smartly about how you can be helpful in bringing this about, rather than sitting back and expecting to be moved somewhere new. Do some research before submitting your request and look at which areas of the organization play to your strengths or what new teams are on the horizon that you might want to get involved with. Seek opportunities where your input can be valued.
5. Find a confidant. Regardless of whether you stay with your current team or switch to a different one, there will be times where you’ll just want to let off steam. Although your boss is the person to talk to about a lot of issues, this is not the kind of individual we’re talking about here.
An alternative confidant may be a colleague, a mentor or a close friend in another department. Choose carefully: it should be someone you can trust and have a private conversation with in a closed space, knowing it will go no further.
6. Make the most of your free time. A lot of us find ourselves resenting the time we spend at work because of what we’re doing –or rather not doing– with our time away from the desk. Spend time off with the people you care about, make sure you get enough sleep and build in quality time for yourself. Schedule activities that invigorate and energize you. Finding time to chill and unwind will help you enjoy both work and play more.
7. Don’t neglect diet and fitness. A poor diet leaves us feeling sluggish and irritable, exacerbating any negative feelings we may have about work. By eating well and exercising regularly, we increase our energy levels and alertness and lift our mood. You might be surprised at how much these changes can contribute to a more positive attitude about your job.
8. Reset your work clock. If you resent your job because your work schedule restricts you from doing the school run or dropping in on your elderly parents during the day, don’t feel you have to put up with it in silence. Talk to your employer about possibly shifting your hours. For example, to give yourself time to do the morning school run, you could start work a little later and finish up a little later. A growing number of organizations are amenable to flexible work schedules.
9. Adapt your surroundings. If we’re spending at least eight hours a day, five days a week staring at the same blank four walls and the same boring desk, it’s little wonder our office space can feel like a prison and our job like a life sentence. Personalize your working space with photos of friends and family, favorite ornaments or decorations or even a vase of brightly colored flowers. If your chair is uncomfortable or the wrong height, bring in a cushion or two and ask your office manager or a co-worker to demonstrate how to adjust your seat height.
10. Prune the backlog. Few things are more demoralizing at work than the inbox on your computer screen filled with unsorted and unread emails or the inbox on your desk crammed with papers you haven’t even glanced at yet. Set aside time to sort emails and hard copies into different folders so you have a clearer idea of where things stand. Also, play around with the apps on your tablet or smartphone to see which ones can help you be more organized going forward, the power is yours.