Considering the rocky state of the economy right now, you may count yourself lucky just to have a job, never mind giving a second thought to how happy you are there. However, don’t be so quick to dismiss your feelings about your job; companies know that happier employees are more innovative and loyal. If your job meets your emotional needs, you’re a much bigger asset to the company than you may have thought.
Mark Ingwer, business psychologist and author of “Empathetic Marketing,” identifies five core emotional needs that every company and employee should know about in order to be more successful and motivated. Check your professional pulse with these five emotional needs, and find out if you’re thriving in your work environment or if you belong on life support.
A sense of belonging is indispensable if your company encourages innovation and creativity. Being comfortable around your co-workers and boss establishes an open environment that will be more receptive when you pitch new ideas. “Businesses that cater to and help us meet the need to belong will uncover previously unexplored opportunities,” Ingwer says. Are your co-workers a little standoffish? Talk to your boss about ideas that can bring the group together. An office book chat or a community volunteering day can open up your co-workers and get people talking.
Are you being handed more responsibilities and projects to head as time goes on? Being given more control is a clear sign of how your company measures your worth and is an easy way for you to gauge your place there. Asking for more responsibility or taking the lead on a project also shows how confident you are at your workplace. Ingwer notes, “We only spend energy on controlling outcomes proportional to our belief that we can succeed.” If you’ve been avoiding your to-do list or have shied away from speaking up, now’s the time to start taking more control of your career and of your place at your company.
How challenged do you feel at your job? Being able to grow in a job or company is a major factor in the evolution of your career. “It’s important to note that we grow most fully when our enlightenment leads to competency, which is extraordinary knowledge in a given area or subject. In one’s career, those who learn more about their niche will get ahead of those who do not,” Ingwer says. Look for opportunities to expand your knowledge about your industry, and continue to challenge yourself. When you reach a point where every day seems like a repeat, see if there’s a chance to move up. Make an appointment to speak with your manager about taking on more responsibilities, and ask if your position can grow to include more leadership possibilities or if there’s a higher opening within the company for which you can be considered. If the conversation is a dead end, it may be time to consider looking for a more challenging position elsewhere.
Are you getting the credit you deserve? Do your co-workers and boss know that you were the one who submitted that great idea? Ingwer notes, “Recognition is paramount any time the need to motivate groups, and individuals within groups, is central to accomplishing organizational goals.” If others are looking to you as a leader and professional role model, your reputation is working in your favor for advancing your career. Still going unnoticed for your hard work? Start getting more involved both in public and private ways at work. Speak up more at group meetings, email others your ideas and ask for input, and stay on track with your projects to start getting noticed.
If you’re fortunate enough to work in a field you care about, you’re already experiencing positive self-expression. “For many people, the most satisfying vehicle for expression is often the work of one’s career,” Ingwer says. But if you’re in a job you couldn’t care less about, your need for self-expression may leave you wanting more. Look for ways to get your interests involved at work. Love messing around with computers? Ask for technology training. Passionate about sports and fitness? Start a company kickball team or organize a company entry in the next marathon. Your self-expression and initiative will make you a stronger figure in the company and get you noticed for the right reasons.