Want to Love Your Job? Fill These 4 Needs

If you're feeling less-than-fulfilled by your job, you're not alone: only 13 percent of us are engaged at work. Everyone else is waiting for Friday (and hoping against hope that this weekend, like most, won't be consumed by work emails). Why are things so bad for so many?

walk the line 

(Photo Credit: Thomas Leth-Olsen/Flickr)

"Demand for our time is increasingly exceeding our capacity -- draining us of the energy we need to bring our skill and talent fully to life," write Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath at The New York Times. "Increased competitiveness and a leaner, post-recession work force add to the pressures. The rise of digital technology is perhaps the biggest influence, exposing us to an unprecedented flood of information and requests that we feel compelled to read and respond to at all hours of the day and night."

Schwartz is CEO of a company called The Energy Project, which helps businesses improve employee engagement. Working with Harvard Business Review, the company surveyed 12,000 white-collar employees across a variety of industries. They found that burnout is pervasive, affecting workers at all levels, from the newest entry-level hire to the top executives.

The key to improving employee engagement, their research found, is satisfying four core needs:

1. Physical: having the opportunity to recharge at work.

2. Emotional: feeling valued for your contribution.

3. Mental: being allowed the space to concentrate on important tasks.

4. Spiritual: having the sense of your work's connection to a higher purpose.

Your job doesn't need to fulfill all four of these needs; even when one need is met, engagement and performance improve, and levels of perceived stress decline. But if your job satisfies none of these requirements, it's time to ask yourself if there's something that you can do to change that -- or if it's time to start looking for a new opportunity.

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