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Feeling Down? 6 Ways to Be Happier at Work

Feeling Down? 6 Ways to Be Happier at Work
Credit: Wang/Shutterstock

Their careers, and not just what's happening outside the office, play a huge role in how employees feel about themselves, new research shows.

Nearly half of working adults in the United States gain the same amount or even more feelings of self-worth from their jobs and careers compared to their personal lives, according to a study from the University of Phoenix School of Business.

Feeling good about themselves is so important that despite the challenging economic climate, 60 percent of working adults would quit their jobs if doing so decreased their feelings of self-worth.

The study found that the youngest and oldest workers are most likely to walk away from jobs that don't make them feel good about themselves. Specifically, 69 percent of workers in their 20s and 72 percent of those over the age of 60 would quit their jobs to improve their sense of self-worth.

"People deeply value the contributions they make to society and to their workplaces and take it personally," said Sam Sanders, college chair for the University of Phoenix School of Business and a former human resources executive. "With identity and worth so connected to careers, it is important for working adults to constantly be reinventing themselves and seeking opportunities to grow professionally."

To help workers increase their self-worth, Sanders offers several tips for employees who are looking to gain more responsibility, boost their personal job satisfaction or who are struggling with a lack of fulfillment in their chosen careers:

  • Be an entrepreneur in your own career. Don't wait to be handed opportunities. Be proactive and find ways to stand out within your existing job. This can include working with other teams in the organization, researching a new revenue stream, conducting competitive analysis or presenting a new project. Suggesting innovative changes and taking charge of your own development may lead to increased responsibility, and ultimately greater feelings of self-worth.
  • Understand how your job ties to the bottom line. Understanding how your role fits into the larger picture can change the way you approach it and position your accomplishments. Even if it's not in your job description, knowing how your role and department contribute to the organization's business priorities and bottom line may help you prioritize and contribute more effectively. This can also help you find greater job satisfaction.
  • Be a lifelong learner. Don't let your skills get stale. Take a class, pursue an advanced degree, research certificate programs or identify a mentor. With educational options growing more customizable every day, it is easier than ever to find ways to learn, grow and challenge yourself long after you graduate high school or earn a bachelor's degree.
  • Get civic. Share your knowledge, nurture your interests and continue to grow your skills through volunteering. Community involvement is a great way to supplement your career and add flavor and richness to your daily life.
  • Set personal goals, even if you don't meet every one. When you go through the review process every year, take the opportunity to set some personal learning goals for yourself. Is there something you have always wanted to learn? Is there a part of the business you want to better understand? Are there soft skills (communication, strategic thinking, planning) that you have always wanted to improve? Identify a personal goal related to your career and develop a plan to achieve that goal in the coming year.
  • Nurture your brand. Branding isn't just for companies and products. Social media and online networking have made branding just as important for individuals. Research the key components of a business or marketing plan and use this as a guide for your own brand and professional communication.

The study was based on surveys of 1,048 U.S. residents who are part-time, full-time or self-employed workers.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.