9 Things to Do When You Are No Longer Happy at Work


man in suit and tie

According to a poll by The Conference Board, almost 54% of US employees are satisfied with their jobs. What about the rest? Are they unhappy or discontent? If you fall under the latter, you should take action immediately for two key reasons. Firstly, when you are unhappy at work, your productivity is affected and you could end up stressed and depressed. Secondly, when your productivity is low, you will lower the company’s profitability and this will be unfair to your boss who is paying your salary. This article highlights some of the steps you can take when you no longer feel happy at work.

Re-evaluate the Basics

Why did you apply for that job in the first place? What motivated you to work for that employer? What was your passion when you studied that degree? What goals did you hope to achieve while working at that company? Maybe you are unhappy because you have forgotten about your goals and passions. Take a look back and you might be surprised to get the motivation you need to keep working that job just by looking at where you started and where you hoped to go.

Change the Work Environment

If you are not satisfied with your job because of the work environment, you can consider switching to a different employer. For instance, if you are a nurse and working in a hospital is no longer fulfilling for you, you can transition from ASN to FNP and find a job in an outpatient setting. Changing the work environment allows you to find the job satisfaction you need without having to change your career. Hence, this is a good step to take if you love your job but hate the work environment.

Work on Your Soft Skills

Unhappiness doesn’t always come from the work environment. Sometimes it comes from within. One could be having a hard time at work simply because they are unable to communicate well with their boss and colleagues. It could also be a time management issue that leads to missed deadlines and conflict with the management. Therefore, before you quit your job or consider changing your career, check your soft skills and work on areas where you fall short. No one will ever be perfect when it comes to communication, resilience, teamwork, time management and other skills, but there is always room for improvement.

Don’t forget a positive attitude. You will never be happy if you are always negative about your work, your boss, your colleagues and the customers or clients you are serving. You need a positive view of life too. Don’t feel shy to ask your boss or even colleagues to highlight some of the areas you need to work on so as to improve your interactions with them. If your company has a provision for training, you can suggest soft skills as one of the training areas. Otherwise, consider self-learning using online resources, working with a coach, or signing up for a class.

Consider Self Employment

Ever aspired to open your own company and be your own boss? This is another step you can take when your current position no longer seems satisfying. However, note that starting a business is a big step that has to be thought of thoroughly. Make a list of everything you need to get your business running and to keep it productive. Remember, this isn’t just about money only. You have to think about customer acquisition and retention, and competition. You are moving on to becoming an employer and thus you have to learn more on finding and keeping good talent. Don’t forget about the legal responsibilities of business owners. Also, every entrepreneur will face challenges and thus you need to ensure you have the skills to handle that too. Instead of handing in your resignation letter immediately after a business idea pops into your mind, try running your business part-time first.

Talk to Your Boss

If your unhappiness comes from something that is under the control of your boss, talk to them and see if they will be willing to make some adjustments. Bosses can easily make adjustments to keep you in their company for two key reasons. One, finding new talent is expensive, and when a position is left vacant, this translates to lost working hours. Two, retaining employees and making them happy is good for the company’s reputation. Therefore, don’t leave a company because of your salary or the working conditions before you talk to your boss.

Change Your Career

If you aspire to do something different from what you are doing currently, you can work on changing your career. You can change your career at any time, but you have to plan your transition very carefully. There are five key things you should consider when making that decision. One, check your key motivation for wanting to move to another career. Is it a better salary, better working conditions, a pursuit of your passions or interests? Two, check how life will be working in a different career. Which industries can employ you? What are the working conditions and hours like? How many and what kind of people will you be working with?

Three, check if there is a demand for workers in the industries you are hoping to find employment with. Four, think about your future goals and opportunities in career advancements. Finally, check the skills you need to move to a new career. Will you require a new degree? What about the soft skills? If you are not sure about the transition, talk to someone who is already in the industry you want to transition to. Talk to them and even have them invite you over to the office to get a clear picture of how everything runs. Alternatively, you can get a part time job or even a volunteer opportunity in the environment you would like to transition to. Professional coaching can also be helpful when it comes to changing a career.

Check Other Aspects of Your Life

Your unhappiness at work could be stemming from other issues such as a stressful family life or lack of leisure. How you take care of yourself outside work affects your performance at work. Thus, check all the other aspects of your life and work on everything that could be causing you stress and unhappiness. Working on other issues could involve hiring a counsellor to help you walk through life issues, finding a new hobby, managing your time better to get quality time with family, or simply taking a vacation to refresh your mind. Taking a couple of trips a few times a year can lower stress levels, make you happier and give you a better perspective on life. Plan your trips at the beginning of the year and find ways to save money to pay for those trips. For the work life balance, you can start by making a list of everything that is important to you. This could be work, family, friends, exercise, travel, spiritual matters and leisure. Once you have your list, come up with a strategy on how you will balance your money and time among them all.

Grow Your Technical Skills

As you work on your soft skills, don’t forget the hard or technical ones too. These are the skills that are specific to your job. You need these to complete your job effectively. If you are always making errors, unable to complete some tasks due to lack of expertise, or fighting with your boss due to low productivity, these are some signs that you need to work on your technical skills. The challenges can also be as a result of major industry changes and technological advancements. Where your company doesn’t offer training to keep you up-to-date with the current changes, consider growing your skills and knowledge using other means. This is important not only for your performance at your current job, but also for the positions you will hold in future.

Get a Part Time Job or Business

If your source of dissatisfaction is the pay check only, you could consider working a part time job or starting a business to boost your earnings. With the rise of internet shopping, nowadays it’s easy to start a business even without owning an office or business premises. Basically, you can run your business hands-free with an online store and fulfilment partner. However, don’t make the mistake of starting an online business before checking the market and customer base. You need to think about capital and marketing too.

Regardless of the step you choose, take time to think through everything properly before making your final decision. The step you take maybe ideal for you today, but will it be so in the next five years? You need to think about the present and the future. Also, check how your decision will affect your finances, family and friends. For instance, if you are considering a career change that will send you back to school, check if you have the money to comfortably pay for college without putting your family through financial struggles. If you don’t have enough, you may need to get a part time job, apply for a loan, or wait a little bit longer before making the transition.


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