To many people, work seems to be a monotonous time that goes on and on involving much the same thing day after day. It is all very well to become lost in your work if it is an interesting profession, like teaching, the arts, or law etc. but where do get job satisfaction from more humdrum types of work?
It is true that being a small cog in a big factory or organisation, it may be hard to see that we are contributing any real service to the community but people can assume that other jobs like house-keeping, gardening or labouring are necessarily uninteresting.
Job Satisfaction and Motivation
The attitude we bring to a job can have a big effect on whether or not we find it boring. Do we have negative or positive reasons for what we are doing at work?
An occupation can exercise a positive pull on some workers as when it brings its own rewards for them. One example is the opportunity to learn on the job. Gardeners get some job satisfaction from learning about the growing process, car mechanics about the workings of petrol engines, and book-keepers can become interested in the way accounts are balanced. Another example of a positive reason is wanting to work hard because we value getting a job done well and on time.
On the other hand some people seem to be able only to find negative incentives — like going to work only for the sake of the wage or only for the training received that could help towards a needed qualification. And of course some only make the effort because of the stigma of unemployment. Some are more likely to feel dissatisfied when the job doesn’t deliver on that wage rise, or provide adequate levels of ventilation or warmth on the factory floor or in the office. If motivation is mostly negative, no wonder job satisfaction is hard to experience.
Job Satisfaction and Orientation to Others
I would like to suggest that the negatively motivated individual tends to relate to others, from the point of view of self i.e. from what they can provide for him or her. Signs of self-preoccupation include a sense of grievance, frustration, or self-pity. If people do not meet what he or she feels is needed, and self-orientation were to dominate, then what others suggest or want might tend to be overlooked and others are likely to be easily perceived as an irritant or a threat.
Children get off to an unfortunate start in life if their parents pampered and spoiled them. Then they will have to unlearn the idea that happiness can only come from having one’s own needs met first.
On the other hand, when we are growth motivated we do not relate to others as `sources of supply’ to meet some shortage or deficit or perceived unmet need in ourselves. Consequently, we are able to view others as complex, unique, whole beings in their own right and get more job satisfaction working alongside them. We become more aware of their problems, talents and interests and thus give ourselves a better chance of having something meaningful to talk about together.
Job Satisfaction and Usefulness
Having a positive reason for doing something is looking for what is useful in the situation. Being useful keeps us physically fit as when we engage in housework, gardening, or `do it yourself’. Getting on with something can keep us mentally fit too, e.g. study, report writing, or problem solving at work. A useful life trains individual maturity as we learn to take the rough with the smooth.
The more we put in to the situation then the more we will get out of it — and that probably will include job satisfaction. By sincerely, fairly and reliably performing whatever useful tasks for which we are responsible – whether that be as parent, housekeeper, farm labourer, shop assistant, or businessman, etc – believe it or not, we can experience a deeper sense of delight that goes beyond and lasts longer than any physical or bodily pleasure.
In other words, the attitude we bring to our duties affects the quality of the way we relate to others. Every person we meet can walk away from us feeling just a little happier. This can be because of the way we deal with them, the effort we put in, and the interest we have shown. Other people will have learned to rely on us to do what is needed without being prompted. They will have come to expect us to put proper feeling and thought into what we do. Their appreciation can give us huge job satisfaction.
Having a caring involvement with one’s family and friends or carrying out paid employment or voluntary work for the community – all these activities can be a challenge to the heart and mind that makes every day alive with opportunity and interest. By not being idle and being effective in what we do, we have no time to get bored. Not that being busy should become an end in itself. We all need time out for rest and recuperation.
Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems