Job satisfaction research in the United States says the most satisfying jobs are professions involving care for others, teaching, protecting others and creative pursuits.
At the same time, it is also important to take steps to adapt to change and even thrive during periods of change in order to avoid professional burnout and enjoy the job even further.
“Some recent research suggests that general happiness in life increases by 29 percent when the person is also very happy with their job,” said David Burton, a community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension. “Our jobs should not define us but we do spend a majority of our time working and if you can enjoy it that works out much better.”
According to a 2016 job satisfaction survey, the least satisfying jobs are mostly low-skill manual and service occupations like customer service, food and beverage preparation and waiters.
“General happiness in life does not specifically refer to jobs, but job satisfaction can impact happiness,” said Burton. “The happiest people tend to work in jobs that help others and involve technical and scientific expertise and creativity.”
Three occupations were recently rated as the highest on both job satisfaction and general life happiness: clergy, firefighters and special education teachers.
Thriving with change
“Change has a way of making us humans anxious. I was once told by a friend: ‘The only thing that is constant in life is change’,” said Burton.
Based on his own work experience, Burton says there are some important steps that a person can take to make surviving change at work easier.
First, if you are just starting out in a career, use this as a time to build a network for the journey.
“Listen, learn, and find a positive mentor who knows how to keep a confidence,” said Burton.
If you are five to ten years in to a job, fatigue or even boredom can begin to set in.
“Fight off fatigue by taking care of yourself. One way to do that is to take your vacation,” said Burton. “Do not lose vacation time due to failure to use it.”
As people age, or just later in a career, people just run out of energy or enthusiasm to be creative.
But according to Burton, so much of what determines if a person finishes well takes place before they ever show up for the job. Winning in life requires dedication and hard work. It also requires the discipline of our minds and soul.
“How we respond to change is what define us,” said Burton.
Burton says it is also good to mix things up at work to avoid boredom. Perhaps volunteer for a new committee, or pursue a new idea or project.
Community development specialists with MU Extension help people create communities of the future by tapping into local strengths and university resources. The Community Development Program works collaboratively with communities to foster economic development, leadership development, community decision making, community emergency preparedness and inclusive communities.