2-minute read

Do you ever hear yourself saying, “I feel like I work all the time?”

I hear and say it a lot, so I did some digging, and here’s what I found. On average, we work nearly 2,100 hours each year. For context, we sleep 2,900 hours yearly.

So, if you feel you spend a lot of time working, you do.

Since we spend so much time at work, we owe it to ourselves to have the best possible experience. Although the motivations differ, creating a work environment with high job satisfaction is a shared responsibility by both employer and employee.

Employers know that engaged and satisfied employees stay in their jobs longer, providing continuity of institutional knowledge and decreasing the associated 33-50% cost per employee of turnover.

In response to employee needs, many employers have reassessed their professional development offerings, benefits, and wellness programs over the last few years to create a more positive and balanced employee experience.

This is good news for employees as more programs, policies, and options are now available to improve job satisfaction.

Employers invested in job satisfaction matter, but sustained job satisfaction happens on an individual level.

The three most significant determinants of job satisfaction are clarity on the purpose of the work, how performance expectations are communicated, supported, and measured, and career pathing.

Let’s break down each of these areas into prompts and thought starters so you can assess your current level of job satisfaction and identify where there is room for growth.



Purpose is defined by understanding how what you do contributes to organizational success, the betterment of society, or a stellar client experience.

Understanding your purpose creates momentum for continuous improvement and allows you to visualize a long tenure with the organization. Connecting with the organization’s mission breeds curiosity about other functions, which helps us become better collaborators.  

If you’re not connected to the organization’s mission or understand how you contribute, you have considerably less incentive to work hard when times are tough.

Employees who lack purpose in their work are often labeled as ‘phoning it in’. If you’re wondering how purpose-driven you are, here are some prompts. As you go through, rank each on a 1(not at all) – 5 (completely) scale.

  1. I understand how my daily work affects our clients
  2. I believe in the organization’s mission
  3. Senior management makes mission-aligned decisions
  4. My values align with the organization’s values
  5. The organization supports new ideas

With answers that you’ve ranked three or below, step back and think about what you can do to reconnect your work with client experience and mission achievement. If the connections aren’t apparent, ask a trusted colleague for help making the connections.



Your relationship with your supervisor is the most significant determinant of job satisfaction. A good boss makes you feel heard and valued. A bad boss consistently ranks among the top three reasons people leave their jobs.

Below are some leading agreements that define a healthy relationship between supervisors and employees. How well these agreements are upheld directly affects job satisfaction and performance.

When looking at the list, which of these areas is true for you? Which needs improvement?

Does your relationship with your supervisor allow for an honest conversation about the areas for improvement? If not, who else can help?

If you have a conversation with your supervisor about improving any of the responsibilities – on your side and theirs – meeting outside the office over coffee or lunch often changes the power dynamic and allows for more productive conversations. 



This is the last component in the list because pathing is integral to purpose and performance. Understanding where you can grow within the organization and having a plan to get there is an essential motivator for continuous improvement. Without a path, work becomes a series of check-the-box tasks.

You can clarify your path in your 1-1 meetings with your supervisor and through networking.

As part of 1-1 meetings, connect your professional development goals to skills and competencies that can be translated into a promotion or new role. An equally important part of charting a career path is growing your professional network, attending conferences, and meeting new colleagues in trainings and workshops. Having a focused path lets you talk clearly about your goals, which helps your network bring you new opportunities.


Purpose, performance, and pathing are three critical ingredients to job satisfaction. As we reach the halfway point in the year, it is an excellent time to pause and assess your level in each area.

A lot of your time is spent at work; make it meaningful.


If you know or have a young person starting out in their career, or if you hire them, this book is for you.

Make Your Internship Count:
Find, Launch, and Embrace Your Career


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