American workers are increasingly miserable on the job. No wonder: Those who survived mass layoffs during the recent recession often were rewarded with more work for the same or less pay.
A survey released last fall found that nearly a third (32 percent) of U.S. workers considered quitting their jobs, up 9 percentage points from the last time the same survey was taken in 2005. Another found that only 45 percent of American workers were satisfied with their jobs, the lowest level since record-keeping began 22 years earlier.
For many workers, though, quitting just isn't an option. So what else can you do to make yourself happier in the job you have? AOL Jobs culled the latest research on the topic and found these five scientifically proven ways to become happier at work:
- Get organized: Yes, organization requires work, but you'll find it pays off. Knowing which tasks need doing first not only means you'll have to spend less time working, it can also improve your productivity -- and ultimately how your boss views your contributions. When performing any task, ask yourself: Is this the best use of my time?
- Now that you have more time, work less. Because of the extra effort you put into getting organized, you'll accomplish the same tasks in less time. So stop working overtime. Working more hours isn't the best way to get ahead at work. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (via The Washington Times) also shows that those who regularly worked overtime had increased levels of anxiety and depression -- regardless of gender or vocation.
- Balance where you spend your mental time. Maintaining happiness requires that you not spend too much time walking down Memory Lane or focused on planning for the future. And while "living in the moment" is promoted by many personal-happiness gurus, workers also shouldn't focus too much on "the now," according to a new study from researchers at San Francisco State University (via LiveScience). "If you are too extreme or rely too much on any one of these perspectives, it becomes detrimental, and you can get into very destructive types of behaviors," says lead researcher Ryan Howell. "It is best to be balanced in your time perspectives."
- Strive to work autonomously. Research shows that most workers are happiest and most creative when they are the masters of their own destinies, and that can be hard to achieve if you have a micro-manager for a boss. So, it may be time to sit down with your supervisor and ask to be given a longer leash and more say in the work you do. That doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't ask for help when you need it.
- Stop thinking about your job when you're at home. It can be hard to shut that off just because you've left the office (and perhaps even harder if you work from home). But it's important that work not bleed into your personal life, especially when you already spend a third of your day toiling away. Say, "Adios!" to work the moment you start for home.