Five Drivers Of Job Satisfaction

During the course of a career, circumstances can change significantly, causing a corresponding change in your job satisfaction. Loss of job satisfaction can occur slowly over time, like boiling the proverbial frog, until one day you wake up and realize that you are no longer satisfied with your career. You may feel like it has stalled and that you aren’t making a meaningful contribution any more; or you may find that you don’t think your salary lines up with your responsibilities and accomplishments; or maybe you haven’t been given progressive responsibility after a series of noticeable successes.

Change can also happen very quickly through unforeseeable events like corporate reorganization and restructuring. Any time that a significant change in our circumstances occurs, at the point at which we notice that change, we are wired to begin assessing what is familiar and what is unfamiliar in order to re-orient ourselves and satisfy our fight-or-flight instinct. Once we are sufficiently comfortable with our surroundings again, we begin to relax and reach an equilibrium. One way to more quickly reach that equilibrium and keep a level head during periods of uncertainty is to decide beforehand which key components of your job are required for your satisfaction. Knowing these components and their relative importance to your sense of well-being can help you endure changes in a healthy way without feeling the need to fight or flee. When changes in circumstance affect one or two of these areas, or if changes affect less important requirements for your satisfaction, it is usually possible to put the changes in perspective with relative ease, knowing that other key areas have not changed and that you can still derive some level of satisfaction. But if several key requirements are not met, or worse, if none of them are met, then managing change can be very difficult; and this could be a signal that it is time to seek out a different opportunity that meets the requirements for your personal satisfaction.

Over the past few months, I have been carefully considering why I work. It’s important to prioritize what is essential to me in order to maintain job satisfaction, and being able to enumerate these things helps me understand my motivation for doing what I do, so that I don’t ever feel stuck for a long time period.

In my job, there are several critical components to my personal satisfaction. These are listed in order of importance, although they are inter-related to varying degrees:

Working In A Preferred Geographic Location

Because I am divorced and want to be close to my children and stay active in their lives, location is a very important factor in my job satisfaction. If a change in my job ever forced me to consider a move to a different city before my children are grown, then I would likely have to find a new job because I know that I’d never be personally fulfilled if I am unable to spend all the time that I want to with my children.

Working With People Whom I Truly Like

In my current position, I have had the rare fortune of having hired everyone who works in our office. Most of us have worked together for many years and I have come to trust them, respect them, and enjoy the interactions that I have with them every single day. We laugh together and are truly friends and this is a very important part of my sense of well-being since I tend towards mild introversion in my personality. If I were unable to work with certain key people, or if there were significant ongoing friction in my work environment, then it would be very detrimental to my job satisfaction.

Working With People With Whom I Can Be Creative

While liking the people with whom I work is important, I also have a deep need for a creative flow with certain people. Fortunately, there are several people in our office with whom I have the “yin” and “yang” that produces some truly innovative ideas and techniques. These people are creative in their own right, and we have a unique combination of skills and views that produce really elegant and beautiful results and cause positive visceral reactions in our users.

Earning A Good Salary

My kids in private school, and I am committed to providing this educational opportunity for them. I derive a great deal of satisfaction from seeing my children succeed and thrive in a stable, familiar school environment where they can learn and grow. So, because my salary makes that possible, it is of considerable importance to me. Because I’m not a terribly materialistic person, once my children have been provided for and are adults living on their own, and once I have sufficiently saved for retirement, I fully expect that my salary incentive will become much less important.

Feeling Deep Satisfaction from Technical Creativity And Innovation

I really thrive on the process of methodically studying a problem, conceiving a solution, and then making that solution a reality, especially when I can do it with other very creative people with whom I enjoy working. There are plenty of days when I have to attend meetings and perform managerial tasks that seem mundane and wasteful of my time, but as long as I am able to have sufficient time to create, then I am able to put the mundane tasks in perspective.

Using the Five Drivers to Maintain Perspective

Having identified these five drivers of personal satisfaction, I find myself going back to them whenever I notice that I’m dissatisfied with work. When I do, I ask myself, “Did any change in my work circumstances affect any part of the five drivers?” If the answer is “no”, then I might be overreacting to something. But if the answer is “yes”, then I begin to assess what changed in order to see where it is on the relative scale of importance. If it is very high up, then I have to assess how deeply the change affects me overall and determine if there are still enough of the key components that are being satisfied to cause me to stay.

I’d love to hear what your five drivers are.

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