Almost one in four (24%) adults in the UK are unhappy at work according to a poll commissioned by one of the UK’s largest independent higher education institutions.
The GSM London survey questioned 1,000 UK adults in full and part-time employment on how they feel about their working lives. The survey found that 4 in 10 people see their job as a means to an end and almost 3 in 4 people (72%) see their working situation as a job, with just 28% saying they have a career.
Unhappy at work – the survey says that it is both age and a lack of confidence that stop them from making a career change.
41% of employees believe they are too old to make a change by the time they turn 34. 21% cite lack of confidence and family commitments (22%) and the pressure of uncertainty (22%) are more reasons why people do not pursue their dream career. So they remain unhappy at work.

Hard to believe that over 40% of people see 34 as the age where they are now stuck and can’t change careers. For many they will only have worked for 12 years with well over 30 years of their working lives ahead of them. Are they really going to spend the next 30 years being unhappy at work?

I have clients over 50 making successful career changes and many more in their 30s. They are successful because they may be unhappy at work but working with me they get clarity on knowing who they are, are very clear on their strengths and plan to make a move following research both online and talking with people.
We often fall into our jobs in the early part of our career or we realise by our early 30s that we followed someone else’s plan and goals: our parent was a doctor/lawyer/ accountant/engineer and we put our interests and passions to one side. We realise that we are unhappy at work but need support and guidance to make the right move. We don’t want to wake up another 10 years in the future and realise we are still unhappy at work.
So, if you are unhappy at work here’s some tips on what you can do

  1. Get clear on what you love to do – review your job, think about the tasks and activities that bring you joy and what you want to continue to do.
  2. 2. Be clear on what you dislike about your job. You must be specific, it is not just that you dislike your boss, but e.g. the way he never gives you feedback or flies off the handle without reason, or never shares business information with you and your colleagues or perhaps you are just bored.
  3. Before looking elsewhere, are there things you can resolve? If, for example, you are unhappy that your boss never gives you feedback could you schedule a meeting with him or her to review progress? Can you be proactive in some areas? Can you approach the person you are having problems with? Perhaps it’s a colleague who doesn’t do their fair share of work so everything gets loaded onto you. Be careful though. Don’t charge right in, wait and think things through from their perspective.
  4. Should you look for more responsibility? Are you bored by what you do? Let your boss know that you could handle more and get involved in some projects? If you get turned down, then persevere. Perhaps you need to convince him or her more. Are they aware of your out of work achievements? A review meeting will allow you to discuss and emphasise strengths that your manager may be unaware of.
  5. Do you need more variety? Look to do more of what you like and less of what you don’t. Think about how you can position this to your manager to make it a win-win for both of you. If you get on well with your boss she or he is likely to want to keep a valued member of staff and so be more willing to help. Think about other people who could take on some of your tasks, such as an eager junior member of staff who may love to develop themselves too.

If none of this works it’s time to look for something new.

What most people who are unhappy at work do is to look at job ads and to spot something that interests them, but this can quickly become overwhelming. You need focus. You need clarity on what you can offer, where there are opportunities and why you are the right person for the job.

This is when a career coach can really add value. Helping you to be clear on who you are and what you can offer. Your skills and experience are important, so too is an understanding of your personality, values, interests and the type of working environment that brings out your best.
This helps to narrow down to a shortlist of potential careers that can be explored both online and through talking with people.
Realism is important – can you make a move without further study. A step back to take move forward is usually ok, but going back to study for a further degree may not be possible due to financial and personal reasons.
Once clear on where you want to go you can then refocus your CV and LinkedIn profile and make a structured plan to get there.
And if you need help … why not arrange an enquiry call with me to see how I can help you achieve your career goals and move you on from being unhappy at work.
Denise Taylor, Chartered Psychologist, Registered Guidance Practitioner and award-winning career coach, Denise is the author of 8 books including Find Work at 50+ and ‘Now you’ve been short-listed’. Find Denise online at

Published On: July 17th, 2017 / Categories: Career Coaching, Career Management, Job Search /

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