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Staying Happy and Motivated in Your Job

If you have a job during this recession, be thankful you do. It could be tough finding another.

Unemployment is hovering near 10 percent — the highest in more than 26 years. That figure doesn’t include those involuntarily working part-time (one to 34 hours a week) or those who gave up looking for jobs for one reason or another and fell off the unemployment rolls.

As a result, a huge pool of talent is competing for a limited number of jobs — at a time when businesses remain cautious about hiring. In a Huntington Bancshares Inc. survey of 200 small business owners in the Midwest, for example, only about a fifth said they expected to fill positions in 2010. Sixteen percent said they didn’t expect to ever reach their pre-recession levels of staffing.

So even if you’d like the challenge of a new job, you may have to wait out this economic slump, says Butler University Executive-in-Residence Marv Recht. How do you stay happy and motivated at work? Recht suggests the following:

• Work happiness is difficult to define. Performing at your best and being completely involved in your work will give you a sense of satisfaction. You’ll get good feedback from your manager or supervisor, and you won’t have to be preoccupied with the possibility of losing your job.

That job security is your motivation. The best way to attain job security is your performance. It is important for you to stay focused and give 125 percent at work.

• You can improve your job security by getting as many cross-functional assignments as you can. If you have grown bored in your job, the new challenges can be stimulating.

But be careful how you approach your boss about these new responsibilities. How you make the request has everything to do with how your boss will respond. Don’t infer in any way that you’re unhappy.

• If you’re really dissatisfied at work, it’s critical to improve your happiness in your off-work life. Spend more time with your family. Volunteer at a nonprofit or coach a sports team. These will keep you occupied so you don’t have to think about how bad things are at work. And, depending on the volunteer activity, it might look good on a resume when the job market does improve.

Marv Recht has over 35 years of career counseling and human resources experience, working for General Motors Corporation and human resources consulting firm DBM. Now retired from corporate life, he works at Butler University as an executive-in-residence for the College of Business where he teaches courses on career planning and development, and serves as an academic advisor. To schedule an interview with Recht, contact Courtney Tuell at (317) 940-9807 or

To find other Butler University experts, visit

Courtney Tuell | Newswise Science News
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