What Can You Do When You're Unhappy with Your Job?

What Can You Do When You're Unhappy with Your Job?
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Enjoying a job that allows us to earn a living doesn’t always prove easy. We could even say that simply being unhappy with your job represents a good enough reason to look for a new one. But due to the fact that the labor market is complex, that step doesn’t feel easy either. All of this explains why work-related mental illnesses have become more common.

Studies like the one published in Economic Research remind us of the evidence for something that’s both logical and understandable. The workers’ personal satisfaction improves a company’s overall performance. In other words, a happy worker whose managers recognize their skills and efforts represents human capital for any company.

Many companies overlook their workers and focus only on the results. There are economic and productive entities that are based almost exclusively on vertical, rigid, and traditional leadership that lacks emotional intelligence. If an employee doesn’t adapt to this inflexibility, a new employee quickly replaces them, thus recycling workers in an increasingly competitive system.

These labor dynamics, where managers value productivity a lot more than worker welfare, and where staying in the market is valued more than the ability to innovate, cause work-related psychological disorders. In fact, the main source of stress in our lives is our job. 

Moreover, studies such as the one published in The Scientific World Journal  remind us that work unhappiness affects our health and alters all of our life habits (food, rest, leisure, etc.). What can we do when faced with this common situation?

“When work is a pleasure, life is beautiful. But when it is imposed on us, life is a bondage.”

-Maxim Gorky-

When you’re unhappy with your job

Being unhappy at work often means being unhappy in life. Our jobs occupy a large part of our time. They also create an image that should dignify us. Thus, the fact that we wake up each morning in anguish over having to go to a job that generates anxiety, pressure, low motivation, and no satisfaction creates an unhealthy and even dangerous psychological state.

Interestingly, a 2017 study conducted in the United States intended to discover the level of personal satisfaction among employees in many companies around the country. The results of the report were as striking as they were devastating:

  • 75% of workers were looking for new jobs in order to leave the one they already had.
  • 77% declared that those who are better qualified and contribute more to the company are ignored.
  • 44% indicated that the most qualified workers are never taken into account.
  • 55% believed that they had poor salaries.

This data more than illustrates what happens in a large part of the labor market in many countries. However, let’s see what might be causing you to be unhappy with your job.

Being unhappy with your job can affect your health.

Why you’re unsatisfied with your job

  • The pay. Salary is the main cause of job dissatisfaction nowadays.
  • Work insecurity. The uncertainty of whether or not we’ll be able to keep our jobs is one of the greatest causes of stress and distress in the population.
  • Type of occupation. Beyond the salary, undoubtedly the type of work we do causes us the greatest stress. It may be far below our education level. We may feel unrecognized. It may be routine. It may subject us to complicated rotating shifts that affect our health and make it impossible to have any social connection with other workers.
  • Working environment. This aspect is crucial to feeling satisfied or dissatisfied in a job. Some work environments are riddled with pressure and competitiveness, while others have toxic coworkers, abusive managers, etc.
  • Managers with poor leadership. Directing an organization implies knowing how to lead. It implies being skillful when it comes to taking advantage of people’s skills. Good managers also encourage workers and know how to innovate. They create productive and respectful environments. If this doesn’t happen in a company, many of its employees may feel unhappy.

What you can do if you’re unhappy with your job

When you feel unhappy with your job, there are two options. You can either quit your job or get used to the idea of adjusting to an ungrateful occupation in exchange for a salary.

Now, whether we choose the first course of action or the second, there’s always a third option to think about. Different strategies that can improve your situation as much as possible include:

  • Relate to people within the organization that provide you with positivity, companionship, motivation, and good energy. Avoid people who infect you with their bad moods and negativity.
  • Find out if there are other positions available.
  • If you have a boss, manager, or another person above you who’s toxic and abusive, you should always keep your distance as much as possible. Obeying orders that denigrate you or go against your values is dangerous for your physical and psychological integrity.
  • It’s important to know how to disconnect completely once you leave work for the day. Avoid taking the pressure and worry home with you.
Reflect on how to not be unhappy with your job.

Finally, consider certain red flags. There are limits that should make you reflect on the idea of leaving your job before your health is affected. If your efforts aren’t taken into account, you have a really bad salary, the work climate is toxic and abusive, and you already see that the job is affecting all areas of your life, it’s best to look for another job.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.