Job satisfaction drops among employees who don't detach from their work upon leaving the office.

Job satisfaction drops among employees who don't detach from their work upon leaving the office. Photo: Nic Walker

Granted, it’s a First World problem, but there are few things in life as all-consuming as a job you hate. Not just a job you dislike – but a job you actively detest, one in which every second feels like an hour; a job that tortures your mind even when you’re not at work. That kind of job.

Business owners aren’t immune. It’s even more tragic when they’re the victims of job enragement because many have given up a comfortable corporate gig to spend money on a new venture. They do it in the romanticised pursuit of self-employment, only to be heartbroken when they realise the dream doesn’t always match the reality.

So what do you do? The easy solution is to quit, but for some it’s just not an option. A big mortgage, lack of skills, and a competitive jobs market prevent people from resigning without having another job lined up. Here are six suggestions on how to make it tolerable, or at least a little less agonising.

Utilise your talents: In his bestselling book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, Marcus Buckingham writes that the key to job satisfaction is for people to identify their strengths and incorporate those into their work. And as for weaknesses – the tasks you don’t like and aren’t good at – he recommends stopping those activities and seeing if anyone notices. It’s a risky move only for the brave … and desperate.

Build relationships: A decade ago, Gallup, a consulting organisation, examined the degree to which employees could say “I have a best friend at work”. They discovered that if people responded to that statement in the affirmative, they were five times more likely to have high rates of engagement. This means that, sometimes, the tasks employees do are of lesser importance than the colleagues with whom those tasks are completed.

Switch off: A longitudinal study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2010 concluded that job satisfaction drops among employees who don’t detach from their work upon leaving the office. If you’re a workaholic (which is what you are if you take work home and reply to emails while lying in bed), this applies to you. You’re not giving yourself a mental break, and that contributes to feelings of resentment you might have towards your job.

Plants and sunshine: When American researchers assessed the job satisfaction of 450 office workers, they found that those who worked in close proximity to indoor plants, or who sat next to a window, reported “significantly” better perceptions of their life, work, colleagues and supervisors. The analysis, conducted at Texas State University, demonstrated that surrounding yourself with flowers or greenery could lift your mood.

Plan a holiday: A study of 1530 people published two years ago in Applied Research in Quality of Life, revealed that employees planning a holiday are much happier than their colleagues. However, this feeling lasts only until the trip is over before happiness is once again on par with non-vacationers. So it’s wise, if you're lucky enough, to start planning the next holiday as soon as the last one ends.

Get some perspective: This is the school of thought that suggests you should stop whining and just be grateful you’re employed - or that your job isn’t as bad as others out there. And since you are, most probably, more fortunate in comparison, you should simply focus on being brilliant at it:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

Easier said than done, Martin Luther King Jr. Easier said than done. 

Do you hate your job? If so, how do you handle it? Leave a comment.

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