That sick, sinking feeling you have when you have to get up and go to work means that something is wrong. Unfortunately, you're far from alone if you experience a case of the heebie-jeebies every time your weekday alarm clock goes off.
A 2012 study by Right Management showed that almost two-thirds of respondents from the United States and Canada expressed being unhappy at work. A wider-range 2011 study by Mercer of 30,000 workers worldwide found that close to 60 percent of workers wanted out of their current positions.
Even in the best-case scenario – such as the 2012 Conference Board report that found a slight uptick in satisfaction of U.S. employees – more than half of respondents still said they didn't like their jobs. That's a lot of office haters out there.
If you're among them, here are some strategies to help you like your job better – or at least hopefully hate it a little less:
Mix business and pleasure. "Research shows that having even one friend at work greatly increases how happy people report they are about their jobs," says Dr. Janet Scarborough Civitelli, a workplace psychologist. "So ditch the unrealistic advice not to mix business and friendships and go ahead and make friends."
"Get acquainted with kind, civil colleagues," adds Christine Porath, assistant professor of management at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and author of "The Cost of Bad Behavior." "Even the worst workplace snake pits always have a few good souls. Spend more time with them. Support them."
Manage your energy. "It is an unfortunate fact about the human brain that negative information is easier to recall, so make a conscious effort to focus on positive characteristics about your work," Civitelli says. "Every day, identify three things you like about your job."
"Choose and invest in relationships that are energizing to you," Porath says. "Positive connections at work fuel motivation, engagement, and well-being. De-energizing relationships, on the other hand, take a tremendous toll on people. They have four times the effect that energizing relationships do, highlighting the importance of managing your relationships."
Take 10 percent for you. "What inspires you and energizes you? Give yourself that gift for 10 percent of your work time each week," says Valerie Wright, a leadership expert. "Build time into your calendar for recharging during the day or week, block it out and keep that time precious to go and run, walk your dog, read, meet interesting colleagues or whatever recharges you."
"Find a project, a target market, or even a small inside-the-office issue that interests and excites you," agrees Nicole Witt, executive director of The Adoption Consultancy. "Volunteer to lead, or at least participate, in the effort. You'll enjoy your workdays more, and you may discover new opportunities or meet new people that lead to a positive change in your career."
Keep it up. "Even if you hate your job, continue doing your work," Porath says. "Keep moving forward. Short-changing your current organization is not in your long-term interests."
Porath suggests that you might reduce exposure to particular people or the organization depending on what's driving your hatred. You might:
- Stop attending optional social functions at work.
- Stop volunteering for tasks or committees that are peripheral to your job responsibilities.
- Limit your work to normal working hours.
Heed the message. "It is quite common in the U.S. for a person to be successful (as measured in money and title) and still hate their job," says Mary McCoy, founder of Work Point Average. "The good thing about hating a job is that the message is clear that you need to move on to a role where you can thrive. Teaching a person how to tolerate a hated job is handing them a career of depleted energy day after day after day."
"Two things that reliably increase happiness are hope and sense of accomplishment," Civitelli says. "So if you really, really hate your job, create a plan for leaving it and then every month, make progress on your plan. Even if you can't leave right away, knowing you are closer is better than imagining yourself stuck forever."
Robin Madell has spent two decades as a writer, journalist, and communications consultant on business, leadership, career, and diversity issues. She has interviewed over 200 thought leaders around the globe, and has won 20 awards for editorial excellence. Robin serves as a speechwriter and ghostwriter for CEOs and top executives, with a specialized focus on women in business. She is author of Surviving Your 30s: Americans Talk About Life After 30, which is scheduled for publication in June 2013.