What is job satisfaction? And how do you achieve it?

Job satisfaction. It has become a catch-all term. And everyone interprets it differently. For some, it is euphoric happiness while for others, it is simply being content. There are also many theories about it. 

Job satisfaction: what is it? 

In short, job satisfaction can be reduced to 3 aspects:  

  1. Faith in yourself and what you are worth (depends on your talents and skills) 
  1. Faith in the environment and in the world (depends on the connection you feel) 
  1. Trust that you can mould the world in such a way that you are seen and recognised (strongly linked to the meaning that you experience in your job). 

If these three elements are sufficiently and evenly present, we can speak of job satisfaction.  

In all this, the context is also quite important. What kind of environment do you need to feel comfortable? And when are your talents revealed in the best light? 

Job satisfaction: a shared responsibility 

Today, too much of the responsibility for job satisfaction lies with the employees themselves. At the same time, it is an illusion that the employer controls the happiness of their employees. Conclusion: job satisfaction is a shared responsibility of employers and employees.  

This means that employers have a duty to create an environment in which every employee can reach their full potential and become the best version of themselves. What this environment looks like depends on your company’s strategy, market position and drivers. It is always possible to create the ideal conditions for job satisfaction. But it requires a certain amount of organisation and an open mind. Ideally, as a company, you should offer some kind of menu from which your employees can choose. 

It is up to the employees to find out for themselves what makes them happy at work (see also next point) and to pick from this menu. If flexibility in the form of remote working is an option, it goes without saying that employees should not abuse it. An extensive menu offering healthy choices is an excellent basis for a pleasant and dynamic working atmosphere.  

How can you discover what gives you job satisfaction? 

In order to know what can bring you job satisfaction, you must first determine for yourself where you want to go. What is your goal? This could be a particular job or a specific company you would like to work for. Or skills you would like to develop further. A goal gives you direction and focus and is a prerequisite for job satisfaction.  

When it comes to job satisfaction, we often look at the talents and skills that someone has and focus strongly on these insights. That in itself is not wrong. But it does not provide enough information if that goal is not clear. Only when your goal is clearly defined can you evaluate whether you are doing well and whether you are able to use your talents sufficiently. 

You can determine this goal for yourself by asking yourself the question: ‘What would I still like to do in my life?’ You must first think about it regardless of all the possible limitations (such as time, budget, and family situation). You must then make a distinction between what is feasible in the short term and what needs more time. Finally, you must feel what appeals to you the most. That is your starting point. 

What if your job just doesn’t allow for job satisfaction? 

It is perfectly possible that within the boundaries of your job, there are few or no elements that can provide job satisfaction. Nevertheless, it is still possible to experience job satisfaction in such a context. How? By considering job satisfaction as the sum of several factors. Maybe the job itself is not much fun, but still gives you the opportunity to make your personal dreams come true. Or maybe you don’t like the tasks you have to perform, but you work in a pleasant team with nice colleagues. Conclusion: job satisfaction is much broader than the job itself. By putting this into perspective, you can make it a lot easier to actually enjoy your job.