Why so many Australians get stuck in a job they really don't like

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  • Two-thirds of Australians value happiness at work over money
  • But they stay in jobs they don’t like because external pressures, including family expectations, meeting monthly living expenses and paying off the mortgage.
  • 81% of Australians said finding meaning in their work would increase their overall happiness levels

Many Australians get stuck in the wrong job and stay their because of financial and social pressures.

When they are asked, many say they value happiness at work over money but often stay in a job because of the weight of paying off the mortgage, family expectations and fear of a longer commute.

A survey shows Australia is a nation which puts doing something meaningful ahead of having a huge salary.

Two-thirds (66%) value happiness ahead of pay, according to research by Rise, the workplace meaning and happiness consultancy.

Australians place great importance in having meaning in their work with 81% saying it would boost their happiness levels.

They also say that they would be happier at work if they felt valued (72%), were making an impact (70%), and they had a good workplace culture (64%).

Two in five (44%) say that the pressure of not knowing what career they want is a major reason why they stay in their jobs.

Other reasons why people often feel they have to stay in their current jobs rather than finding meaningful work includes feeling a responsibility to live up to family expectations (39%), having a longer commute (41%), or financial worries (69%) or the mortgage (48%).

“We’re seeing an increasing shift in peoples’ mindsets and what they want from their work – gone are the days where an employee’s pay packet was enough to keep them in their jobs,” says Ross Reekie, Founder of Rise.

“People want businesses to support them in finding meaning in their work, and prioritise a positive workplace culture, rather than simply offering them more money.

“It’s easy to tell people to pursue their dreams and find work that is meaningful and will make them happy, but the reality can be difficult to achieve.

“There are often complex pressures that weigh people down in their ability to have the freedom to switch roles. The feeling of being trapped can spiral into employees feeling unhappy, disengaged and unproductive at work.”

The survey also found that two in three workers (61%) say they would be more engaged with their work if there was an opportunity to progress in their career.

Half (54%) say they would find their work more meaningful if their career goals were defined, and if their boss was genuinely concerned with their happiness (61%).

“Finding meaning at work isn’t always about changing jobs – sometimes all it takes is revaluating what you want to get out of work and addressing that with your boss,” says Reekie.

“Business leaders and employees alike need to have regular, honest conversations about how they can work together to best support both individual and organisational goals.”

The research, commissioned in June 2018 by Pureprofile, surveyed 1001 employed Australians aged 18 to 65 plus years.

Findings:

  • 57% of Australians say that work is the biggest contributor to stress in their lives
  • 72% would be happier at work if they felt valued
  • 70% would be happier at work if they felt the work they were doing was making an impact
  • 64% would be happier at work if the culture was better
  • 44% cite the pressure of not knowing what career Australians want to pursue is a major reason why they stay in their jobs
  • 39% of Australians cite the pressure of the family’s expectations is a major reason why they stay in their jobs
  • 41% state the possibility of a longer commute to work is a major reason why they stay in their jobs
  • 69% state paying off their monthly living expenses is a major reason why they stay in their jobs
  • 48% of Australians state that paying off their mortgage is a major reason why they stay in their jobs
  • 61% would be more engaged with their work if they felt their boss was genuinely concerned with their happiness at work
  • 54% would find their work more meaningful is their career goals were defined
  • 61% would be more engaged with their work if there was an opportunity to progress in their career

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