Contributed by Eric Feng of Happy Customers and Lin Tan of Collective Change Institute.
In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, the majority of our waking hours are devoted to our jobs. What happens when our job satisfaction starts to dwindle?
Job dissatisfaction can cast a long shadow on our mental wellbeing and it could happen to anyone. When we start to see our work as a threat, it activates our state of survival.
In this article, we discuss the hidden toll of job dissatisfaction and explore strategies employers can establish to cultivate a healthy and happy workforce.
I was once called in to work with a sales team experiencing a 60% turnover rate in the last few months due to a bitter tangle between the co-heads. The disagreements they were having with each other was affecting their sleep, their health, their families and their thinking.
Job dissatisfaction can lead to:
Stress and Anxiety
Heightened levels of stress and anxiety can induce job dissatisfaction. Feeling unfulfilled and unhappy could lead to chronic stress, which is a prolonged persistence of negative emotions. This can trigger a range of physical and mental health problems, including anxiety disorders, sleep disturbances, burnout and even depression.
Decreased Motivation and Productivity
Job dissatisfaction can erode our motivation and enthusiasm, leading to a decline in productivity. When we lack fulfilment and purpose in our work, it becomes increasingly challenging to stay engaged and productive in our role.
Job dissatisfaction doesn’t solely affect individuals; it is likely to strain relationships with peers and loved ones. Feelings of frustration and discontent can make it difficult to find joy outside of work and in worse case scenarios, result in unhealthy or even abusive behaviours as a coping mechanism.
These may have been normalised in a work culture today that reveres hustling and sacrifice, almost like a ‘badge’ that one wears to gain respect and reputation. This is the first barrier that prevents employees from seeking help; do they believe this behaviour is abnormal?
For those who are aware of their dissatisfaction, the next challenge is knowing where or who to go to for help. In some cases, pride and financial considerations gets in the way of engaging help. Many felt seeking help is unproductive and choose to soldier on.
This is where organisations play a major role in normalising conversations about mental well-being, and offering avenues to get support. Some steps they could take:
- Training people managers in the basic understanding of mental health issues, like how to spot for signs/red flag in their team mates, and what to say/not say, do/not do.
- Creating a psychological safe space/environment for employees to share with their managers and/or peers about the challenges and stress that they are facing, through ‘communities of practices’ or engaging external facilitators to run workshops.
- Actively creating awareness about mental health at work through lunch talks, and offer employee assistance program where they can reach out to professional counsellors/coaches for free.
- Offering sabbatical leave where employees can take time off from work to re-balance themselves.
- Introduce a hybrid work-from-home arrangement that gives employees autonomy to manage their work-life balance.
So what happened with the sales co-heads? By coaching them on how they could regulate themselves, toxic behaviours that were threatening their team members and unconsciously destroying themselves were now neutralised. Positive changes created satisfaction for all, which perpetuated positive effects such as newfound collaboration and teamwork.
Organisations are fuelled by people, and if the people are thriving, they will naturally bring their talent and inner resourcefulness to solving key business challenges. Demanding the best from employees needs to come hand in hand with equipping employees with the knowhow and the avenues to cope with the demands.