The Great Escape: Is it Really Time for a New Job?

Businesswoman Awkwardly Bending over Yellow Counter

It’s a shock — the sheer number of individuals ready to venture into new work life territory. Surveys have revealed some troubling numbers and I am convinced that there is quite a lot of pent-up demand for job shifting. The state of our recovering economy (which has essentially curtailed free movement within the job market) has taken its grueling toll on attitudes toward work. Job engagement is waning. Other workplace consequences cannot be far behind.

However, I’ve not given up hope. Interestingly, employees will stay for the content of the work (Read Blessing-White’s research report here.) So taking a very close look at your current situation piece by piece — might be in order. What’s really bugging you at work? Might things be changed for the better? I recommend taking serious stock and sorting your thoughts before you leap over that proverbial “cubicle wall”.

A few ideas to gain some perspective:

What can I do to salvage my current role? Feel free to take control of the situation at any time. Start with a long, hard look at all of the the forces that are operating. Sometimes it can seem easier to throw up your hands and say ” I am done!”, rather than investing any more mental energy into an already frustrating situation. However, if you don’t — this can simply be short-sighted. If you leave, before you’ve had one solid conversation with your boss, it’s entirely possible that you are taking the easy way out.

What is it about my current role that really bothers me?  Is it a problem with a specific co-worker? Not enjoying the content of the work? It’s amazing how you may not have had a real conversation with yourself about the specific reasons you are unhappy. Make a list of the possible contributors to your feelings. Rank order them in terms of importance. Label the top 2 or 3 as “deal breakers.” Take the “deal breakers” that you have identified and meet with your supervisor to discuss them. Start that dialogue now.

Are there personal reasons that may be affecting my opinion? Stress in other areas of your life, can easily spill over into your work life. In general, try not to make career decisions when other things in your life are in flux. If possible, let some time pass before you consider a change. Work-related decisions that are made during times of great stress, are generally poor decisions.

What is the state of opportunity in my field? Please, please, please look before you leap. If the market in your line of work still appears to be somewhat tight — stay put and work on modifying your current role. Want to expand your horizons? Prepare for a “career pivot” and arrange for an “in-house” mini internship within your organization. Know an inspiring coworker? Ask to make that person your mentor and move forward in that way, while staying put for just a while longer.

Being happy at work can greatly enhance your life — and change just may be the only avenue to achieve this. However, examine the aspects of your work that you might revise, before you take the leap.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.

The Power of Your Employees

Do we really need a consultant to let us know how to fix what is wrong with our businesses? I doubt this is always necessary. What I do know, is that if you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it probably is. However, you have the single best source of information right in front of you to get to the root of the problem quickly – your employees.

With all of the information swarming about the importance of employee engagement, we may be missing a prime opportunity to include our employees in the conversation. I am encouraging all of the bosses, managers and owners out there to access the single best resource of cutting-edge information – your staff!

You can read more about this, in my recent post for the LinkedIn Influencer program: The Wisdom of Your Employees.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. Connect with her and continue the conversation on Twitter and Linkedin.

Monday, Monday: Why Doing What You Love Can Make Tomorrow Better

Monday Blues

Do you spend Sundays ruminating about how you’d like to avoid Mondays? According to Gallup, that transition won’t be nearly as traumatic if you report feeling engaged with your work. We are all recognizing the power of employee engagement in organizations today – and it seems this construct is likely related to a host of other relevant variables, including your mood.

Gallup measured the progression of specific emotions during the course of  our work week – with survey participants reporting their attitudes on a variety of topics including feelings of happiness, anger and stress. Not surprisingly, those who identified as “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” reported more negative responses, which subtly evolved during the course of a work week.  The data held some fascinating findings.

Some examples:

  • Happiness. There is an obvious difference in experiences of reported “happiness” – where those with lower levels of engagement, were less likely to report it. (For some reason this discrepancy peaked on Tuesdays for those identified as “actively disengaged”.)
  • Smiling and laughing. You guessed it! Those that reported feeling engaged at work, also reported smiling and laughing more. Just over 65% of “actively disengaged” respondents reported smiling and laughing “a lot” (on Tuesday), as compared to 90.7% of those reporting themselves as “engaged”.
  • Stress. Although all respondents were more likely to report higher levels of stress on Monday, as compared to Sunday, those reporting lower levels of engagement seem to be more susceptible. (Reported stress dipped a bit on Fridays, for all respondents.)
  • Anger. Those who reported feeling disengaged, were more likely to report feelings of anger. On Tuesdays, for example, more than one-quarter of those defined as “actively disengaged” reported experiences of anger the previous day, in comparison to 9.2% of those identified as “engaged”.

Engagement is continuing to emerge as a key workplace challenge in the evolution of work  – and more focus on this area will certainly follow. What helps you feel engaged at work? Tell us your story.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist and coach. Connect with her and continue the conversation on Twitter and Linkedin.


Employee Engagement: Yep, It Really is All About the Work


Work is never ” just work” — it is a guiding element in an individual’s life. Finding meaning in what we do is a key, and feeling motivated by the content of our work is critical to fuel creativity, innovation and eventual success.

At one time, it was thought that job characteristics such as pay and title were the only motivators worth exploring. But over the years, changes in the way we look at work, and the potential correlates of job satisfaction have moved that needle. We now acknowledge that job attributes such as autonomy and opportunities for career growth, are also powerful motivators in the workplace. The explosion of interest in employee engagement — and its relationship to organizational outcomes is another example of this evolving view. We may have a long way to go to achieve high levels of engagement at work, but there is no arguing its role and importance.

Early theorists were on the right track
The idea of feeling “engaged” at work is a much older concept than many realize. Interestingly, the roots of the employee engagement concept can be traced back to some early theories concerning motivation and organizational membership. For the most part, early thought leaders were right on target with today’s trends. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1954) is an excellent example.

Maslow, a Humanistic Psychologist, believed that positive mental health was in part related to belief that you are making a meaningful contribution to the world. His description of the need for self-actualization, (which was viewed as indulgent at the time), sounds much like the concept of engagement.

Theories concerning organizational system requirements have also eluded to the notion of employee engagement, and its importance. The classic text The Social Psychology of Organizations (Katz & Kahn,1966), outlined three behavioral requirements needed for organizational success — the last of which sounds much like engagement:

  • An attraction to join the organization and the desire to remain in it.
  • People must dependably perform the tasks for which they were hired.
  • People must go beyond dependable role tasks and engage in some sort of creative, spontaneous and innovative behavior.

Research backs this up
The need to feel that work has meaning, has emerged as a key topic in the research arena as well. A recent study by Blessing-White, an organization which examines workplace trends has revealed this. When employees were asked about the factors that might influence their plans to stay at an organization 30%, said it was their work and enjoying what they do. Another 17% stated their chance for career development or advancement. (Interestingly, only 7% agreed that salary was the greatest influence in their decision to stay. )As the researchers aptly summarized, “Employees will stay for the work, but leave for career.”

Changing the mindset: Engagement matters
The economic recession has forced us take a closer look at the drivers of organizational effectiveness in a more creative way. Overall, we are poised to realize that making decisions solely on the basis of spreadsheets is completely ill-advised. Managers are looking for strategies to meet the needs of their employees while also achieving organizational goals.

As such, this opens the doors for the power of the engagement to take center stage.

I for one, am thrilled.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist located in East Lansing, Michigan. Connect with her on Twitter and Linkedin.