Why job satisfaction isn’t just about your job

We get told to find a job we love, so it doesn’t feel like work. We are encouraged to look at what we really enjoy doing so that we can work out what job will suit us best. What I rarely see discussed are the other important factors in not hating your work life. Those of us in a full-time role spend more time each week with our colleagues than our loved ones, so it’s a considerable chunk of our lives. Making sure you’re happy during those eight-hour days is important, so how on earth do you go about finding a place where the folk you’ll be interacting with every day are your kind of people?

Outside of what tasks a job actually involves, benefits are usually the first thing people pay attention to. Looking at the salary, annual leave allowance, pension scheme, health benefits, parental leave, flexible working policy, and other options like advice schemes and support for volunteering, are all important considerations when applying for a permanent or fixed-term contract. The thing that it’s more tricky to ascertain before you start working somewhere is the company ethos. If, like me, money is not your primary motivator, finding an employer who’s values align with your own is an important part of any job search. Thankfully the internet makes employer research much easier these days.

One of my first jobs was on the shop floor at John Lewis. As the Partnership website states, “all 88,900 permanent staff are Partners who own 47 John Lewis shops across the UK, 350 Waitrose supermarkets, an online and catalogue business, a production unit and a farm. […] Partners share in the benefits and profits of a business that puts them first.” This concept of having a share in the business, put in place by John Spedan Lewis in the 1920s, has led to a more of a ‘family’ feel to the team in each store. It’s not about shareholders vs staff, because the staff are the shareholders. I have also worked for the Guardian Media Group (owned by the Scott Trust which reinvests all profits), a local council, a further education college and four universities, none of which strive to make profit for shareholders.

I wrote about how to love your job last year, and it’s recently been useful for me to revisit that post. My tips were to make sure you take the route that’s right for you, that you identify what it is about your role that you love the most, and that you take joy from the best bits of your job. Wise words Past Lori! However, I now have one more thing to add to the list. I’ve gradually worked out that, ultimately, for me it comes down to the people. If the folk you work with are interesting and a pleasure to spend time with, you really won’t mind going into the office at all. Working for an employer whose values align with my own means that I’m more likely to meet likeminded people in my workplace. My wonderful colleagues help me through the bad days and enhance the good ones. For that, I am endlessly grateful.

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Image from a tour of the UAL Archives & Special Collections Centre