Economic woes fertile ground for the workplace blues

If you’re feeling glum about your job, you’re not the only one.

 

If you’re feeling glum about your job, you’re not the only one.

 

“The economy we’ve been experiencing has taken its toll on the emotional state of workers,” says Don Thibert, career expert and director of Academic Affairs at Everest College.

 

Three quarters of employed Canadians said they suffer from work-related blues at least occasionally, according to the third annual Everest College Workplace Blues Survey recently conducted by Harris/Decima. And moreover, this number has increased by 11 per cent over three years.

 

The survey also revealed 61 per cent of Canadians are not optimistic about getting promoted. And more than a third consider their work to be a job without growth potential, rather than a career with advancement opportunities.


One reason for worker depression is that “job stability has been rocked by this economy,” says Thibert. Losing a job due to downsizing is a real fear, and employees are worried that taking any risks could backfire. So they’re keeping a low profile, regardless of their job satisfaction.
And when layoffs occur, the employees who are left are often asked to take on extra work.


What happens is that many employees allow their work-life balance to tilt off-kilter in hard economic times. Because they’re worried about drawing negative attention to themselves, they may delay vacation, work longer hours and take on more work than they can reasonably handle. In the end, it’s not a good idea. “If you’re not happy at work, your unhappiness tends to leak out into your life,” says Thibert. And that causes more stress.


What can you do? You can’t change the economy, but you can take stock. “You work for 40 years of your life. That’s a long time, so you should enjoy what you do,” says Thibert.


But the process of determining job satisfaction and what to do about it isn’t always so simple. Thibert recommends keeping a workplace diary for a month or so, noting whether you had a good workday or not, and why. You may rate your days on a scale of one (miserable) to 10 (excellent). After a while, you’ll notice patterns.


“It’s understood that there are some bad days,” says Thibert. An average score of between seven and 10 means that you enjoy your job most of the time. To make it even better, you may be able to identify from your diary what it is you don’t like at work, and you may be able to negotiate with a co-worker or your boss to get more of what you like and less of what you don’t.


If your score is six or lower, “you’re suffering,” says Thibert. “I’d encourage those people to take a good long look at their skills, what they enjoy and what they don’t, and to update.” They need to take charge and figure out what type of job gives them more satisfaction, he says.


He adds that employees who have been forced to make changes to their work life because their jobs were terminated are sometimes the happiest. “At the college, I’ve heard again and again that people wish they’d made the career change earlier.”

 
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