In this week’s discussion I wrote about my job as a children’s domestic violence counselor. I also mentioned that three employees have resigned since I’ve been on maternity leave (since the end of December). As my return to work looms closer, I have been fighting an internal conflict about whether or not I want to go back. Obviously the main issue is the fact that I want to stay home with my baby, but there are other, work-related issues that make it difficult to want to return. However, the same aspects that made me question my job are the same things that convinced me to stay.
The exodus of my co-workers (and friends) from my small office encouraged me to take a hard look at what I want out of my job. What I like about the job is clear—a two minute drive to work, great hours, no weekends or holidays. I’m sure many of you can agree, though, that we did not attend Penn State University so we don’t have to work weekends. Clearly the perks are not enough for me to be satisfied.
Our text mentions that the most important aspects of a satisfied employee are being challenged, being rewarded, and working within a supportive system with supportive coworkers (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Typically I feel somewhat challenged at work, but not always because of my assigned duties. I am rewarded with a paycheck, but anyone who works in social work knows that it doesn’t pay well, and the benefit package is less than stellar. My biggest qualm is that our office environment is terrible, and although some of my coworkers are helpful, some are not, and are in fact “out to get me” (and others as well). It seems as though I should get out soon, but I won’t.
It’s not my main job function, or really anything I was hired to do, but I enjoy working with my boss to figure out the best way to “get along.” We’ve planned get-togethers and other things we can do as a group to get to know each other better, to learn the strengths of others, and how we can be more supportive as employees. Although the work I do on paper isn’t extremely challenging, my “other” duties help me feel challenged. I believe I have a relatively high growth need strength, in that I look for challenges in my job to help me grow within my career (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012), so I know that I am being primed for a management position in the future.
Absenteeism is a red flag for unhappiness in a job (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012) so if I notice myself slipping I will definitely reevaluate my priorities. I might not be head-over-heels for my job, but it does not mean that I am not satisfied—for now.
Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications