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Job satisfaction is critical – both for you, the employee (for obvious reasons), and your employer. Without happy employees, a business can experience some pretty big problems. Think: lack of engagement, absenteeism, potential errors, low productivity, bad organisational culture…

Zola Thekiso, CEO of Great Seed Talent – a people development agency specialising in recruitment, training, career coaching and employee engagement – weighs in…

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First off, why is job satisfaction so important?

If people are unhappy at their place of work or with their work, this can affect their mental and physical health and lead to wellness issues such as stress, anxiety, panic attacks, even high blood pressure.

“While it may be challenging to pinpoint how to deal with job satisfaction, it’s imperative that the root of the dissatisfaction is considered before deciding on how to solve it – or even before deciding it’s unresolvable (for both employer and employee), and/or it’s time for another job (for the employee),” says Zola.

These are the common reasons why you might be feeling dissatisfied at work:

1/ Feeling unappreciated

Employees might feel unchallenged when their potential is not maximised, they’re overlooked in respect of effort/promotions, underpaid/rewarded, or bored… all of which leads to feeling ‘unappreciated’.

“In this case, speak to your line manager, reach out to someone of influence in the organisation for guidance, or get a career coach,” says Zola.

For the employer, simple compliments on jobs well done, employee reward programmes (including discretionary incentives) and regular, meaningful engagement with your employees work wonders.

2/ Low remuneration

While this is linked with the size of your ‘pay cheque’, it can also be about not being fulfilled in your work. Look for an alternative position in the organisation that matches your skills and talents, or speak to your manager about assuming more responsibilities in your current role (with an increase in pay, obvs).

“[Employers can consider] rewards for excellence and productivity, such as commissions, bonuses, half days, ‘employee of the month’ incentive etc” says Zola.

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3/ Lack of growth

Employees may feel as though they’ve “hit the ceiling” – but you need to think like an entrepreneur. “Consider how to innovate and add value to your organisation – and be rewarded for it” says Zola. “[Or] consider moving to another department where you can learn new skills or apply yourself,” she says.

Tip: Find a sponsor or mentor within or outside your organisation to give you guidance.

As for employers? “Regularly assess roles and skills within your organisation and train/develop your people – [because they’re] probably your biggest ‘assets’.”

4/ You’re feeling stuck

You may feel that you chose the wrong career, or you’re simply unhappy with your current job. The first step? Look to your interests, passions and hobbies.

“Explore an avenue you’re passionate about,” says Zola. “This is one of the reasons so many side businesses have boomed in the past decade, and continue to [do so]. People have discovered niche opportunities that are rewarding!”

What should employers do? Growth opportunities should be clearly and effectively communicated to employees, especially high performers.

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5/ Challenges with your boss, colleagues or work environment

Do you dread Mondays? Dread every day?? If you think your boss is the issue, open and respectful communication is always a good idea. Think: a one-on-one meeting where you give your boss feedback, and express challenge(s) in the work and/or their managerial style.

“You should both agree and manage expectations on work to be completed (such as the quality of the work or timelines for projects) and the appropriate level of communication between yourselves,” says Zola.

If your colleagues are the problem, pinpoint exactly what is it about them you find challenging. Then schedule a meeting and talk to them honestly and respectfully. Note: If the culture of the organisation is causing the clash with your co-worker(s), then this is probably a leadership challenge, and discussing it with your boss or finding another job could be options.

Zola does remind us of this, though: “When people feel dissatisfied, they need to realise that their jobs (though important), are not the ‘be all and end all’ of life and that there are always options,” says Zola.

Remember… Communication is key, for employers and employees

For employees, speak to someone who can help you see more clearly how to navigate the issues you’re facing. This should be someone you can trust and be open with. Options include: an HR manager, colleague or mentor, or even a career coach. Realising that your career is in your hands is powerful and empowering in achieving real job satisfaction.

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