Five Ways to Make a Bad Job Bearable

Last Updated Feb 11, 2011 3:17 PM EST

Since the economy started going downhill, I swear some companies have dumped relentlessly on employees. Their attitude seems to be something like: "Here, let me give you 3 zillion extra tasks and stop whining, at least you have a job! And by the way, pick up my dry cleaning on the way into work."

It's unpleasant, and mark my words, as the economy begins to improve, people who have been treated poorly will seek new jobs.

But what if you are in one of those jobs right now, with no foreseeable new jobs popping up? You're also not the type to go start your own company, so you're stuck--for the time being. Here are 5 tips for sticking it out in an unpleasant work situation.
  • Give positive feedback to others. Positive feedback doesn't just have to come from the boss. If you're miserable, it's very likely that many others are as well. So start saying, "Great job with that report," and "Wow, you handled that crazy lady from accounting so well. " It will make the general atmosphere better.
  • Stand up for yourself. "I'm afraid that won't be possible" is a great phrase to say when you're asked to do the impossible. With everyone being overburdened, some things have got to go. If your boss pushes back, say "I would love to be able to do that, but something has to give. Here is a list of my responsibilities. Please let me know what your priorities are."
  • Focus on something outside work. I know, you spend most of your day there. But, one of my cousins recently pointed out the following to me: There are 24 hours a day and 365 days a year: 365*24=8760 hours. Assume you sleep for 8 hours a day, work/commute time is 50 hours a week, and you get 2 weeks vacation. From that 8760 hours, 2920 is spent sleeping and 2500 is spent at work. That leaves you 3340 hours left or 139 days to do other things. Yes, you have to go grocery shopping, help with homework, do the dishes, change diapers and teach Sunday School, plus pluck the ticks off dogs. (And question why you got dogs in the first place.) But my point is, you do have some extra time. Choose wisely what you will do with that time. And don't tell me you don't have extra time because somebody out there has been watching Dancing With the Stars.
  • Look for ways to make things better. Good ideas can come from anyone. So, don't sit around and wait for management to make things better. Figure out how things can be better and present the ideas yourself. Depending on your job and your responsibilities you can probably just start doing some things differently. Be willing to ask "why" you do something instead of just "can we do this better?" Sometimes there is no good reason for why something is done at all.
  • Stop whining. I know, I know, I love to whine. It's sooo fun and easy to sit around with your coworkers and complain about everything from workload to your manager's personality quirks. However, nothing good ever comes out of that. Seriously, it just makes things worse.
None of these suggestions directly change the attitude of the people who are making your life miserable, but they can begin the process of making the work place less threatening and can, eventually, change management attitudes about employees.

Yes, you should be Thankful you have a job, but that's no reason not to make it a better place to work.

And managers, if you're reading this, make sure you show your employees that you value them. Without them, you're out of a job too. So, quit whining as well, at least you have employees.

Related Links: Photo by MelissaClark, Flickr cc 2.0