5 Reasons Why Most People Are Not Happy at Work

Employee not happy at work

Employee expressions depict that he is not happy at work. 

Do you ever get the “Sunday Sads?”  This is when you experience an extreme feeling of sadness on Sunday when you realize that you’ll be going back to work on Monday.  This feeling of unhappiness often leads life science professionals to start searching for another job.  According to the 2017 Mind the Workplace report by Mental Health America, 71% of workers in the U.S. were either actively looking for new job opportunities or had the topic on their mind always, often, or sometimes while at work.  Regardless of all of the potential causes of these feelings, we see that most people are not happy at work.     

How are you handling any thoughts or feelings of unhappiness?  Do you even know the real reason behind your lack of satisfaction?  Unfortunately, most people vent regularly to their family, friends, and co-workers, but don’t ever achieve happiness or the true career success they’re looking for.  If you are searching externally for another job to make you happy, you might land a new position and still experience feelings of dissatisfaction.  Here are the top five reasons why most people aren’t happy at work.

Reasons Why People Are Not Happy At Work

1. They are disengaged

Engaged employees are those who are involved in their work and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. Employees who are not engaged may be passively going through the motions without energy or passion and are not happy at work or with their work.  Actively disengaged employees take things a step further by undermining and sabotaging their employers.  The Gallup State of the American Workplace report found that roughly two-thirds of all employees are not engaged at work.  Are you engaged on the job?  If not, there’s a good chance that you aren’t happy either.   

2. They are stressed out

High levels of stress have been described as an epidemic in today’s working world.  Many people see it as a badge of honor to be “stressed out”, or having a high stress level means that they are working hard.  The reality is that being stressed out is not sustainable for your physical or mental health over the long term, and often leads to feelings of unhappiness. What are your causes of stress at work?  Are they external factors, as a result of circumstances or other people?  Or are you stressed by internal factors such as your performance, abilities, or attitude?  You can read more about stress management here.   What are some ways that you can limit your stress at work?  

3. They have a negative/scarcity mindset

Psychological research has found that how you view situations at work and in life have an effect on the results you produce.  Professor and author Raj Raghunathan discusses the mindset of happy professionals in his book If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?  He outlines a scarcity-minded approach to thinking, where you believe that your “win” will come at the cost of someone else’s loss.  This mindset is prevalent in today’s corporate culture, where people say you must “watch your back” because others are out to get you. This creates unhealthy competition between employees which is the biggest reason why employees are not happy at work. In contrast, think about intentionally creating a more abundance-oriented approach in the workplace.  Focus on the opportunities for growth or promotion that you have and stop comparing yourself to others.

4. They have poor relationships with managers and colleagues

A lack of connection or poor relationships with managers and colleagues can be a major source of frustration for professionals.  It's difficult to do your best work when you don’t feel supported by those you work with.  How is your communication with your co-workers?  Can you collaborate with them productively to achieve your goals?  What can you do to deepen your connection with colleagues?  Inviting someone to lunch, reaching out to a new employee, or volunteering to take on an extra project outside your department are all ways to build stronger relationships.

5. They aren’t fully using their intellect or strengths   

Many professionals want to feel like they are making a positive impact at work and attaining successful results.  If they are not reaching their full potential, it’s common for employees to start wondering if they are in the right career or job, eventually, not happy at work.  Abraham Maslow, one of the founding fathers of psychology, described this desire as self-actualization.  If you aren’t fully utilizing your intellect or strengths, you might feel as though you are in essence, cheating yourself.  What areas would you like to grow in?  Are there any special projects or activities you can take on to help your company?  If you’re unhappy in this area, talking to your manager about additional ways you can be helpful is a good idea.

When people are not happy at work, it's easy to think that hopping into the job market and hunting for a new position will make you feel better.  Instead, it’s a good idea to truly consider the reasons why you’re unhappy at work.  Think about if you are disengaged or stressed out.  Do you constantly look at situations at work with a negative or scarcity mindset?  If, so changing that can help make an impact on how you feel.  Developing stronger relationships with your manager and colleagues can also help increase your level of happiness.  Finally, brainstorm ways where you can fully utilize your intellect and strengths.   

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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