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The Unhappy Workplace

Numerous studies have been conducted on job satisfaction. The general consensus is that more people are unhappy with their jobs, outnumbering those that are content in their careers by more than two to one. In a 2006 Harris Interactive US market survey, 84% of the people interviewed said they were unhappy in their current jobs. More recently, Gallup conducted a 2015 employee engagement survey which was based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews held in the U.S. with 80,844 adults working for an employer.  The results showed that only 32% of employees in the U.S. are engaged in their jobs.  The majority (50.8%) of employees were “not engaged,” while another 17.2% were “actively disengaged.”

As a guest at a recent YoPro Global seminar for young professionals in Trinidad and Tobago desiring to become entrepreneurs, I asked the audience of forty to indicate who was happy with what they were currently doing.  Just four of the forty said they were content with their current roles. Surely it is not intended to be this way!

What is the missing link? I’m convinced that the mistake is made at the very beginning of our career lives – we enter careers without asking ourselves the right questions and sometimes we pursue careers for all the wrong reasons.

Every job has its challenges, but successful individuals thrive on challenges. They know that growth exists outside of their comfort zone and welcome tasks that allow them to increase their knowledge, thereby making them suitable for promotion and more attractive to competitors in their chosen field. One reason that a person may not see a personal development opportunity in a work challenge is that they might be in the wrong job. They may feel that the skills they need to succeed in their job seem uncomfortable and difficult. The results they are working towards may feel wrong or meaningless, or they may feel that they are made for something much better, something that is more meaningful and exciting. They may long to use different talents and feel that they are not using their own creativity and ingenuity in a way that truly fulfills them. I certainly identified with this when I ran my own IT company, when I became disassociated from personally serving my clients.

Too often, people who are unhappy in their jobs know what they don’t want, but find difficulty in sensing and articulating what they do want. It’s not possible for an individual to fully utilize their natural skills and talents if they’re simply not aware of what those skills and talents are. I see too many people who come to YourLifePurpose Ltd for help, really having no clue of what they are good at! And while they may be performing well in their current job, they still feel a sense of unhappiness and despair because they may be utilizing skills that they don’t really want to use in their daily job. Although someone may be good at something, that doesn’t mean that they like doing it. This disconnection only results in loss of self-confidence and a feeling of not being of value as an employee and to the world at large.

The solution to this disconnect between doing something that a person is good at and something which they also find enjoyable, in my opinion, is one of balance. There has to be balance between a person’s skill set, their core traits and values, and the role they choose to be of service to humanity and, of course, which pays the bills.  I have found in my years of being a Career and Life Coach, that Psychometric Assessments play a useful role in helping individuals gain a better understanding of their key skills and core values. The next step is a full understanding of what career paths fulfill those key skills and core values. And finally, an appreciation of the employment landscape, and which sectors are likely to provide long term employment, will allow individuals to make better career choices – either at the beginning of their career path, or when they feel compelled to make a change later in their career.

Psychometric Assessments can be powerful tools for employers as well. Every employer’s nightmare is an underperforming, “problem” employee and too often, threats of demotion or being fired are seen as the only means of “encouraging” an underperformer to up their game. What happens if an individual is being bullied by a middle Manager, unknown to senior Management? What happens when the power of managerial vision, compelling logic and excellent incentives fail to motivate employees to perform in the way expected of them? And as all employers know from painful experience, it is the most difficult employees that take up the vast majority of one’s time and energy. Employers should instead seek to look at employees not as problems to be solved but as persons to be understood.

Psychometric Assessments can assist employers to effectively manage their employees by helping them understand the key strengths of their workforce. Employers can then ensure that individuals with the appropriate capabilities are assigned to the appropriate jobs.  Additionally, the assessments can assist employers in exploring the areas in which training and development can be provided to workers, in meeting the company’s overarching goals and objectives. Only individuals can motivate themselves, and it is in an employer’s interest to create circumstances in which an individual’s natural commitment and drive (which most people have) is channeled in the right direction.  And of course, the use of Psychometric Assessments will help both employer and employee understand if an individual is actually in a role or industry wholly unaligned with their core values and skills.

The Psychometric assessment that I strongly recommend for discerning your ideal group of careers is called the “Vocational Style and Career Assessment, 2nd Revision” of VoSCA – R2 from PsychTests, Inc.  While my company YourLifePurpose Limited licenses over 80 assessments from PsychTests, Inc. the VoSCA – R2 is one of the most popular ones we used in our Career Coaching package for clients looking for that ideal career that would make them more passionate about the eight hours plus as day that they spend working.  You can visit to see our methodology in more detail. From there, you can send us a message to get started on discovering your ideal career path!

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