The beginning of every year is when recruitment companies see the biggest spike in job applications. So we decided to look at why so many employees feel unhappy at work at this time of year. With this post, we aim to help you decide whether it’s just a case of post-Christmas blues or if it’s time to call it quits.
The reason we hear of so many people complaining that they are unhappy at work at this time of year is obvious really. We’ve all returned to our jobs after a well-deserved break. During that time off, we’ve had fun with family and friends, woken up when we felt like it, shopped for pleasure instead of necessity and maybe had the odd celebratory night out.
During that time, we’ve also had time to step back and reflect on the year that’s passed and take stock of our lives. We might have even made some New Year’s resolutions.
Combine these things and it’s no wonder we think we return to work feeling dissatisfied with our entire lives. Never mind feeling unhappy at work!
Five Questions to Help you Work out What to do if You’re Feeling Unhappy at Work
The decision to find a new job is a big one that will have an impact on your future. It’s important, therefore, to be certain that leaving your job is the right thing to do.
Here are five questions to ask yourself to better understand your situation. After answering them, you may realise you are in the right job after all. If so, you will have a better understanding of the changes you can make in order to be happier at work.
1 – Is it Your Manager’s Fault?
Feeling unhappy at work is often blamed on poor management. But have you ever considered that your manager probably has a hard time keeping up with their own workload? Is it fair to expect them to read the minds of an entire department?
Many employees are happy to go about their day accepting the way things are done without question. Whilst they smile on the outside, on the inside, they’re feeling unappreciated.
Of course, there may be completely valid reasons for your dissatisfaction. For example, due to a lack of positive feedback or professional development opportunities. But if you never raise the issue with your boss, how are they supposed to know you’re unhappy at work?
If this rings true with you, do you think you are being completely fair on your boss? How can you blame poor leadership skills for your own lack of job satisfaction if you never speak out?
Many companies do not have an annual performance review system. Therefore, if you want to discuss something with your employer, the only opportunity you will get is if you ask.
Give your boss a break. Take time out to understand what it is that you want from your job and ask for it.
There may not be the resources available to give you what you want. But at least they will understand your needs. Either way, chances are, they will respect you more for having the confidence to speak out.
2 – Is There a Warning Signal Telling you to Leave Your Job?
Sometimes, there are clear signals telling us that something is wrong in the workplace.
- Your bank balance
- The number of sick days you’re taking
- You’re friends and family keep asking if everything is OK?
- Missing deadlines/targets
- Other people are being promoted above you
- Repeatedly getting in trouble for being late
- You’re reading this post
When employees perform poorly at work, sooner or later their line manager or HR will notice. Before this happens, ask yourself; am I happy with my job? If not, why not?
Don’t wait for things to get so uncomfortable at work that you find yourself in HR. Finding yourself in a disciplinary situation before deciding to do something about it won’t help. In fact, this will make it more difficult for you to find a job elsewhere.
3 – What are you Really Worth?
Some of the reasons workers feel undervalued are easy to quantify because it’s possible to assign a monetary value. These include:
- A nightmare commute
- Lack of annual reviews/salary increases
- Finding out that your benefits are nothing compared to what your bestie gets
- Having to work extra hours that you don’t get paid for
Any reason for leaving you can put a value on is easy to assess. Make a list, work out how much your time is worth per hour. Work out the financial value you feel you are missing out on and raise it with your present employer. If they can’t give you what you want, at least you gave them the chance to.
If you have a long commute for example. How much time are you spending stuck in traffic that you’re not getting paid for? Is it worth it? How about if you could pick up your office and park it next to your house? Would you fall in love with your job all over again?
If the answer is yes, could relocating be an option? Might you get more property for your money if you moved house? Or better still… a higher salary or both?
3 – What is Your Why?
Not all reasons for feeling unhappy at work are financially quantifiable. In that case, the source of your job dissatisfaction can be harder to pinpoint.
Make a list of the things you like about your job and the things you dislike. Think about what you want for your future happiness at this point too. It’s important to get clear on what your long term career goals. Include any training you might need, along with salary expectations.
Once you write all this down, you should have a clearer understanding of what’s making you so unhappy in your job.
Maybe you enjoy being part of the office environment you work in but the job leaves you feeling unchallenged? Or perhaps you love the job you do but the environment you work in has a toxic atmosphere?
Does this exercise reveal any issues worth raising with your boss? In the first example, making the decision to leave might be a little hasty. Could you discuss your career growth plans with your manager? In the second, managers might not be aware of any issues within the department. Raising them may earn you some kudos.
Whether you stay or go, won’t have any impact on your happiness unless you fully understand your reason. It is therefore important to work out why you feel so unhappy and make a conscious effort to address it. It doesn’t help to look externally and compare your situation with the happiness of others. Instead, try looking inwards to find out what’s making you miserable.
Not taking the time to understand this could find you in the same unhappy situation, just doing a different job. Repeatedly, leaving jobs in search of false hopes does not look good on your CV. You may find yourself branded a ‘job hopper’, and you will soon find yourself running out of career options.
3 – What do You Actually do?
Let’s just say that money was no longer an issue, you just needed something to fill your time with. Could you still find reasons to go to work every day?
A recent study revealed that a major cause of job dissatisfaction among workers is lack of connection with their job.
It is suggested that in order to better understand why you feel unfulfilled, you should ask yourself the following question:
If today was my last day on earth, what would I have done that was worthwhile?Susan David – Harvard Psychologist
Do you feel that what you’re doing is of benefit to yourself, your manager or the company you work for? If not, it’s unlikely you will ever gain any job satisfaction from it. Is there anything you could do instead that you might feel is more worthwhile?
What to do Next?
If you’re still reading this post, it’s obvious that you’re not happy in your current work environment. Maybe you might benefit from some career advice or even just a friendly chat about your situation with a recruiter?
Understanding your reasons for leaving can help a recruitment consultant to find you a job you will be happy in.
A reputable recruitment consultant will be able to advise you on your salary expectations, whether your expectations in terms of a benefits package are realistic and offer advice on any training you might need in order to achieve your long term goals.
Recruiters also have expert knowledge of the market. They will likely know which companies offer an environment you would be happy working in. Or which ones to avoid given your dissatisfaction in your current position.
How are you feeling about returning to work this January? Do you have any advice to offer others about post-Christmas blues? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.