As Americans, we spend nearly a fourth of our week at our workplace and it’s unfortunately not an uncommon story for employees to feel undervalued, lost and without purpose. It can be easy to feel like your daily grind isn’t making a difference in the world and that your repeated actions for a paycheck are futile.
According to a study detailed in a CBS report, 51% of Americans feel unsatisfied with their work. A shockingly large number for sure, but what is it that gives employees such a sense of dissatisfaction?
Many could and would argue that the feeling stems from unfair payment or an incompetent boss or coworkers. While these are real concerns that could seriously impact someone’s enjoyment of their career, I’d like to argue that the emotion comes primarily from someone feeling invalidated and unfulfilled with their work.
Validation in a workplace can come from many places. People need to feel appreciated for the work that they do and we often look toward our superiors for their approval. However, more often than not, the gratitude of our employers is something that is out of our control. Those who work above us either lack the necessary time and means to individually appreciate all of their employees or they simply do not care to do so.
This is where we as individuals need to step in and find the meaning that we are searching for. A common problem that people have with their job is not feeling like they are making a difference in the world. But if we were to take a step back and look at how our job affects others, it can be significantly easier to find that hidden purpose.
Whether you are a barista, call center agent, plumber or anything else, your job was ultimately created to serve a specific function. Therefore, the meaning behind the work that you do is up to you to define for yourself. If you’re working in a field that deals with customer service, then perhaps looking at the impact that you have on your co-workers and customers will help you find more fulfillment. Try writing out a list of the different ways you feel you are making a difference. Whether that’s in serving a cup of coffee to a regular or fixing a broken sink, it’s important that you look at how your interactions can have a lasting effect on someone’s day or life.
A common sentiment is that people feel unsatisfied at work because they are unsatisfied with how they are progressing personally. If you struggle with this, then shift your focus inward to look at yourself and how your job can help you grow as a person. Identify what your greatest strengths are and see how you can apply them to your work in ways that challenge you to progress. Set goals for yourself and strive to achieve them so that you don’t need anyone else’s validation except for your own. What can you do to set yourself apart, not only from your coworkers but from your previous self?
Sometimes your work environment is what needs improvement in order for you to feel validated. Hostile workplaces are taxing on the mind and can affect other areas of your life outside of work. If you are dealing with rude coworkers or customers, strive to make a more friendly workplace by showing kindness and working to defuse possible confrontations. A healthy work environment is essential to a healthy and happy you. You might be surprised at how your personal efforts can vastly improve your workplace as a whole.
As humans, we naturally seek fulfillment and purpose in our lives. Because we spend so much of our lives at work, it is especially essential that we find fulfillment there of all places. By looking at the way that we influence others and how we can personally grow and change ourselves and our workplaces, we can find that meaning.