Five Keys to Job Satisfaction

Copyright 2006 Mary Foley

Do you spring up in the morning looking forward to another day at work, or do you hit the snooze button at least three times and secretly look forward to scanning the want-ads for a new job? If your snooze button is getting a work out, you’re not alone. A recent Gallup poll found that fifty percent of working Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs. Hmmm, that’s starting to sound like a familiar divorce statistic.

When I started working right out of college for eight bucks an hour as a customer service rep at America Online I had only one thing in mind: Get a job to pay the bills. I never thought I’d stay for ten years, moving up and around the company with five positions of increasing responsibility and pay. This was in the 1990s when AOL went from a speck on the internet map to a huge online giant. It was an exciting ride to be sure, but it came with a price. The price was frequent layoffs (I survived six!), constant change (who is my boss now?), and pressure to perform (are these deadlines normal?).

Yet, year after year, I chose to work there! Why? Because with experience I realized there were five keys to my job satisfaction. Like a marriage, some of these were things were dependent upon my behavior and some were directly affected by someone else. Whenever I started to wonder if this relationship was working for me, I reviewed my Job Satisfaction Checklist. You can use it, too, to determine if your current job is worth keeping or if it’s time for a change.

Job Satisfaction Checklist

1.) I believe in the company’s mission and vision. A friend who was recently looking for a new job said she wanted to work for a company whose mission included giving back to the local community. Ask yourself: Do you like what the company is about and stands for? Are you proud to be associated with it, or do you avoid mentioning their name?

2.) I enjoy my role and feel I’m making a valuable contribution. I always found that enjoying my current role was important, but I also wanted to understand how my role fit into a bigger picture. Both together added so much more meaning. Ask yourself: Do I like my day to day tasks and activities? Do I know how what I do fits into the bigger picture of the department or company?

3.) I have the opportunity to do more. If others recognize that you’re making a valuable contribution in your current role, it’s amazing how much easier it is to get more opportunities. Ask yourself: Is the company growing? Are new jobs opening up or being created in areas that interest me? Is the company supportive of promoting people within?

4.) I enjoy the people I work with, including my boss! There’s a reason why they do workshops on “Dealing with Difficult People.” It’s a big drain to constantly interact with people who are critical, negative, or disrespectful. Ask yourself: Are the people I interact with on a daily basis friendly and easy to work with? Do I feel comfortable with my boss?

5.) I feel I’m being fairly paid. If you’re working hard and find out that someone doing in a similar role is being paid more than you, well, there’s the rub! Ask yourself: Do I know what is considered fair pay for my skills? (If you’re not sure, check out Have I considered the value of my entire compensation package, including salary, bonuses, and benefits?

By using this quick checklist and asking yourself these questions, you can start to understand just how satisfied – or dissatisfied – you are with your current job. If found yourself coming up short, like I did in my last position at AOL, only you can determine if it’s worth trying to work things out. No matter what you decided, the important thing is to understand why you are dissatisfied with your current job so that you can take that into account when you are looking for a new one. Or, you can do what I did and use this reflection to start a whole new career!