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The Happiness Trap

Posted by Insightlink on 04/27/15

Should you expect your employees to love their jobs?

In a recent article called “The Tyranny of the Forced Smile,” Paul Jaskunas doesn’t think so and he challenges the expectation that:

“Employers want to see passion. If you don’t love your job, you’re expected to act as if you do, and every so often, in performance reviews and presentations, you are called upon to articulate unalloyed enthusiasm.” Jaskunas feels that expecting everyone to have “lovable jobs” is an unrealistically high standard to set of most positions.

But is it?

There is substantial academic and practical evidence, including findings from our own employee survey work, that one of the strongest contributors to satisfaction in the work you do comes from the opportunity for self-expression and personal growth. Finding meaning at work comes from being engaged in the work that you do.

The level of meaning an individual sees in their work is driven, to some degree, by their own personalities rather than by the work itself. Some view their job as merely a chore they have to endure while others view work as the core of their lives.

However, personality is not the only factor that determines whether someone gets fulfillment from the work they do. It is possible to take action to bring your job into stronger alignment with your values, strengths and passions. Employees can cultivate a stronger sense of self-awareness for creating that can foster a greater feeling of purpose in what they do, rather than self-sabotaging their own job satisfaction.

Some simple steps include:

1. Build stronger relationships with your colleagues by seeing them in person or calling them on the phone rather than relying entirely on email.
2. Set goals to master new skills that build on the tasks you already enjoy
3. Take stock each day of the purpose and meaning you achieve through your work rather than focusing exclusively on the problems and frustrations you have to face.

None of these tips, though, suggest that employees should demonstrate Paul Jaskunas’ “unalloyed enthusiasm” at all times.

No one can be constantly happy at their job but that doesn’t mean they can’t achieve fulfillment each day.

Employees, though, should not be expected to manage the process of finding meaning all on their own. Unfortunately, our employee survey benchmark findings consistently point to a major gap in how well organizations fulfill their employees’ expectations for fulfillment and career development. Here are just a few comments that represent an all-too-familiar situation:

“I don't feel there is much room for advancement within this organization and when I've expressed interest in something new, these ideas have not been recognized or developed.”

“Career development suggestions are not offered and opportunities for advancement are not discussed.”

“There is absolutely NO career development. In my past two reviews when I tried to bring up goals and a path/eventual promotion for my future, I was laughed at and told that our entire staff is ‘entitled’ and that I should just be glad to have a job.”

Clearly, organizations have a responsibility to help their employees along the path to job satisfaction and fulfillment. Those organizations that take on this challenge should find their employees are more likely to express greater enthusiasm and excitement about their work.

“Every day is a new challenge and a new opportunity to help our customers. I love every minute of every day.”

It is important to know how engaged your employees are to determine if there is a problem, and the only way to know for certain is to measure it. We have helped thousands of organizations make changes and we would love to help yours. To find out how our employee survey can measure engagement in your organization and provide you with the diagnostics to see what change is needed, give us a call at 866-802-8095 ext. 705 or send us an email at

Original article here:





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Insightlink Communications are experts in employee survey design, data collection and analysis. Since 2001 we've helped companies of all sizes measure and improve their employee satisfaction and engagement.

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