Dissatisfied at work? Here are some tips to deal with job dissatisfaction in a rough economy from psychologists who specialize in the workplace.
Valerie Sessa, an industrial and organizational psychology associate professor at Montclair State University, said in an e-mail that for those who are mildly dissatisfied but still want to “stay in that line of work” and are not too stressed, she suggests taking on new assignments.
“I would recommend being on the look out in your work place for special assignments or committees or anything where you can learn related but new skills and be around new and different people,” Sessa said.
Here are some other options Sessa suggested for mildly dissatisfied employees:
1) “Consider going back to school.”
2) “Change your career within your company.”
3) “Compare your current job skills with the job skills needed in a more desirable career and re-write your resume to reflect your skills rather than your jobs,” then apply within or outside your company.
5) “Don’t quit your job unless you have something solid (either another job or acceptance in a educational program).”
Here are some ways Sessa said employees can deal with anxiety, stress and depression associated with dissatisfaction when no other work options are available:
1) “You can try to target what is causing you stress in the first place.”
2) “You need to work hard and creatively to prove your worth to the organization.”
3) “Women are less likely to self-promote or negotiate than men. So self-promote! Also negotiate! Your male colleagues are.”
4) “Look for the silver lining (think of all the new activities you will be able to put on your resume).”
5) “Turn your attention to the outside. Work is often only a small part of who you are. Where else in your life are you getting satisfaction? Enlarge that, even if you can only do it mentally. Take care of you wherever you can. Hobbies, working out, getting a massage, laughing with your children, etc.”
6) “Social support is key. If you are not getting enough support, see if your company has an employee assistance program. Use it.”
Malissa Clark, an industrial and organizational psychology assistant professor at Auburn University, said in an e-mail that focusing on areas outside of work can help people deal with job dissatisfaction.
“Work on expanding and enriching those other areas of life that are important to you,” Clark said. “There is a great deal of research that has shown that participation in other life roles can lead to positive outcomes in your work lives.”
A way to deal with mental health effects from job dissatisfaction is to use the cognitive restructuring strategy, “which essentially involves thinking about problems or stressors in a different way,” she said she found in her study results.
“People mentioned that it was helpful to try and look at the “big picture” — to realize that it is just a job, and that job will never be as important as their family,” Clark said. “Also, being able to recognize that there are going to be things you can’t control, and to not sweat the small stuff.”
There are other things employees can do at work to help calm down.
“In particularly stressful times, it was helpful to do things like shutting
the door to your office and turning down the lights for five minutes, or
going for a walk around the building,” Clark said. “Anything to give yourself a moment to calm down and relax. These “mental time outs,” as we call them, really seem to be quite effective for people.”
However, there are situations where leaving a job is the most beneficial decision for an employee’s health.
“It is time to leave an unsatisfactory work situation when that job dissatisfaction is spilling over and negatively affecting other areas of your life,” Clark said.
This includes “making it impossible for you to enjoy other important areas of your life, such as spending time with your family or friends,” she said.