What makes a job good?

Posted by | December 04, 2018 | Well-Being, Work | No Comments

Do you enjoy your job? If so, the job likely has most or all of these characteristics:

Challenge. We want a reasonable amount of challenge in our work. Too much and we get stressed; too little and we get bored.  We usually find new jobs challenging because there is much to learn. Sometimes we need to change jobs or to create new tasks within our job. What kind of tasks? For me, writing a newspaper column was in interesting challenge as part of my work at UNE.

Control/Autonomy. We enjoy work when we decide what to do and how to do it and when we depend little on others. Being self-employed often has this characteristic. So does professional work.

Variety. Repetitive work can become tedious. Bring on the robots for that! Having a variety of tasks keeps work interesting. Some psychologists treat one client after another. In certain settings, all the clients have substance problems. That setup would not suit me. I like to switch from treating clients to writing to teaching and so on.

Success potential.  Who does not like to succeed? I would not want to coach a professional team that loses most of its games. I want to win! Some jobs give great opportunities to win, for instance, lifesaver, firefighter, detective, and surgeon. They may not win every time, but they know that they often accomplish something. Most teachers see students actually learn; probation officers may see probationers turn their life around. A grocery-store clerk scans 1000 items an hour and makes no mistakes.

Supportive work environment. A work supervisor can help make work pleasurable. Pleasant, helpful supervisors and co-workers are worth their weight in gold. A hypercritical or hostile supervisor can make a job hellish. Backbiting co-workers can drain the joy out of anyone.

Work that suits your values, interests and abilities. If you look forward to going to work, you probably are doing work that suits your values, interests, and abilities. Many individuals with low self-confidence work in jobs that do not use all their abilities. Many individuals work just for money. They cannot wait to go home at the end of a work day. If they look hard at their work, they might find that it is more important than they think. People need food and clothes; the economy needs workers to produce valued goods and services.

Adequate pay.  If workers view themselves as fairly compensated, they work hard and feel appreciated. The may have no financial worries that dog them at work.

How does my work writing this blog measure up? It is challenging. I can write about what I want, but I probably need to avoid offending large groups of individuals. My topics vary as widely as I want. The writing might become tedious if I did it 40 hours a week, but it actually takes only a few hours a fortnight.  Many people have indicated that they like my writing. I have no special environment for the work — I write alone in my office, sometimes pausing to look out at trees and green hills. I like writing about psychology in everyday life. I get paid nothing for writing, but that is fine with me because the University of New England pays me well for my work as an academic.

How many of the good characteristics does your job have?


[Photo by NASA on Unsplash]

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