Work – Job Satisfaction and Job Crafting.

What makes a job satisfying, and what can you do to enjoy your work more?
(740 words)
IELTS Reading Questions:
Matching Information and Short Answer Questions

A  A 2018 survey1 found that only 34% of people in the USA describe themselves as ‘engaged’ in their work, 13% say that they are ‘disengaged’ (really don’t like their jobs), and the remaining 53% describe themselves as ‘not engaged’ (meaning, as psychologist Laurie Santos puts it, they’re just getting through it). That’s a lot of people not really enjoying their work, so what is it that makes a job engaging, and what can you do to enjoy your work more?

B  Salary is usually an important factor when choosing a career, but money is only one part of what makes a job satisfying, Santos says. On her Happiness Lab podcast she interviews psychologist Barry Schwartz who explains that people do need to get paid enough to live and support their families, but if they have that, then there are other factors that make a job rewarding. One of the main ones is doing something that matters, and often this means work that has a positive impact on the lives of other people, even if it’s a small one. He adds that work that is varied, challenging and allows people to be creative tends to be more satisfying.

C  However, some employers make the mistake of thinking that financial rewards are what motivates people, Schwartz says, and, because of this, in some jobs the meaning and level of challenge has been reduced. When jobs become less meaningful, the only motivation left for employees is money, which then confirms the employers’ incorrect beliefs. Santos adds that financial rewards do work to an extent, as people will do boring jobs for money, but by removing meaning, people are less satisfied, less engaged, and actually less productive.

D  Psychologist Jonathan Haidt agrees that variety and challenge are important, and he adds that another key factor for job satisfaction is having more freedom around how you do your job. In his book The Happiness Hypothesis, he talks about a 1960s study which found that people in simple, routine jobs who were closely supervised felt more powerless, dissatisfied and disconnected from their work. In contrast, people whose work was more varied and challenging, and who had more freedom in deciding how they did their jobs enjoyed their work much more.

E  Haidt believes that another key to getting more satisfaction from your job is choosing work that allows you to use your strengths. He explains that if you can use your strengths every day, you will be able to experience some moments of flow – periods when you are completely absorbed in what you are doing, and your sense of self disappears. If you can engage your strengths, you will also get more fulfilment from your work, and you’ll be more able to see how you are contributing to something bigger, he says.

F  If your job is less challenging, less varied, or doesn’t match your strengths that well, Haidt suggests adapting it so that it does, something that has come to be known as job crafting. Professor Amy Wrzesniewski, also appearing on The Happiness Lab, explains that job crafting is redesigning what you do in your job so that it matches your strengths and values. It can be done in most jobs, even the most mundane, Santos adds, and can increase how much meaning and enjoyment you get from your work.

G  As an example of how job crafting works, Wrzeniewski discussed her study of hospital cleaners, and how some of them loved what they did and were much more engaged in their work than others. She found that the more engaged cleaners tended to go beyond their daily cleaning responsibilities, paying attention to patients’ needs and viewing themselves as part of the team that helps patients to heal. She gave an example of a cleaner in a coma unit who would move the artwork around in the hope that changing something in the environment might somehow promote healing. 

H  Wrzeniewski suggests that managers should give employees more freedom as a way to help make their work more meaningful. Although some managers might not like the idea of job crafting, she argues that it is possible for employees to redesign their jobs to include more of what they care about and still fulfil the key responsibilities of their roles. Santos concludes that if you really hate your job, then it’s probably best to quit, but if you’re just not engaged, it might be worth trying job crafting.

IELTS Reading Questions for Work:
Matching Information & Short Answer Questions.

Sources and links from Work

Gallup poll about work engagement. (1)
The Happiness Lab podcast – episode about work and happiness. 
– Jonathan Haidt’s book The Happiness Hypothesis, on Goodreads. 
– Photo by Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash.

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Shyam

    Hi Nick,

    This article really reflects my personal career , where I was not happy with the job which I used to do it for almost 4 years .Fortunately,Corona Pandemic had helped me to look back my path and I started to learn things which interest me and also got a high paying job .
    As Laurie concluded by saying “If you really hate your job,then it’s probably best to quit “–> I had taken a good decision in my Life .

    Furthermore, I would like to thank you personally for bringing in articles every month in this site , that helps large number of IELTS students .


    1. Nick

      Hi Shyam.
      Thanks for your nice comment, and good luck in your new job.

  2. Kan

    Thank you for your sharing! Just want to ask how much time should we take to finish one of this article with the exercise? Thanks!

    1. Nick

      Hi Kan.
      That’s a difficult question to answer, and I really haven’t thought about it before; it depends on what your level is and why you are reading (reading to learn something new and improve your English naturally / IELTS preparation etc).
      For IELTS practice, I make these articles a little bit easier than the test.
      In the test, you should spend 20 minutes on each article, so …
      – If you have already done a lot of practice and will take your test soon, I guess you could aim for a maximum of 15 minutes for these (that said, if you are doing your test soon, it is better to practice with the old Cambridge test papers).
      – If you are just starting preparing, then it’s okay to take longer while you improve your reading speed, build up your vocabulary, and learn about the different question types.
      Hope that helps.

  3. Luccia

    Really looking forward to getting my desired score in IELTS so I can finally quit my job. I always look forward to reading your articles and sample tests each month. More power.

    1. Nick

      Hi Luccia.
      Thanks for you kind comments – the nice feedback does give me motivation.
      Hope you get the score that you need and it opens some doors for you.

  4. Rawia

    Thanks Nick, it was really interesting!

    1. Nick

      You’re welcome, Rawia.
      Glad you liked it.

  5. Ann

    Meaningful article for me❤️, I just tend to reflect on myself after reading it.

    That’s true, job crafting or even life crafting is the things that I need to deal with, especially when sometimes I just feel so tried to do something that I do daily basis.

    After now, I will find something new in my routine lifestyle or tend to focus some other things that I interested in, not only stay with IELTS books all the day.^_^

    1. Nick

      Thanks Ann.
      Glad you liked the article, and I hope you are enjoying not having to think about IELTS.

  6. fce

    Well, i think that rewarding job is one o the most important factor. If you don’t like what you do, you are never going to be satisfied.

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