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“I hate my job, and I’m terrified of losing it!”

What would you say to someone who shared this with you?




Every week I find myself having conversations with terribly distressed clients who are stuck in this predicament and have come to me for coaching to find a way out of their situation. If money was no object, then no question about it – they would move on to another job pretty quickly. The one thing keeping them in the position they are in, is the fact that the money covers their lifestyle costs.

Early on in our research, we found that there are three sources of motivational “fuel” which bring satisfaction at work for most people.

  • The first is the presence of Satisfiers (things you enjoy doing being present in your role).
  • The second is the absence of Dissatisfiers (things you don’t enjoy doing being absent from your role).
  • The third source is Remuneration – specifically, how much you are being paid relative to your perception of your market worth.


As this graph shows, these three sources are equally important and should be balanced.





Remuneration should only ever account for about one third of your satisfaction levels at work. The other two thirds should come from the other two sources – the presence of Satisfiers, and the absence of Dissatisfiers.

Over the last 12 months, we have noticed that for many of our coaching clients, money has now become more than half the reason for them wanting to stay in their jobs. The problem with being “out of balance” is that it is harder to make effective decisions about what is happening in our working lives.


This graph shows that people are doing less things they enjoy doing, and more things they don’t enjoy doing, and money is compensating for the reduction in satisfaction usually obtained from these other areas of work.




Our research shows that when dependence on remuneration for satisfaction reaches these levels, visible and unsustainable levels of personal and workplace stress manifest. Some of the outcomes of this stress have significant impacts on people and organisations.

Here are some examples:

  • People are leaving jobs they don’t like, but taking roles of an almost identical nature somewhere else. In other words they shift the problem rather than deal with it.
  • Over time, the long list of unsuccessful moves to new organisations starts to appear as a pattern in people’s resumes – branding the candidate as unreliable and a “flight risk”.
  • Companies are losing more and more people within the 6 to 12 month period and spending a fortune re-hiring and re-training.
  • People are also staying in jobs they don’t like, because they believe they won’t find a job elsewhere, which is causing them to become actively disengaged in the workplace. This is directly impacting workplace culture and is extremely contagious.

So much of this unnecessary stress can be alleviated before it escalates.

If you are a smart organisation, you will work actively on retention and employer branding during difficult times rather than presuming your employees are lucky to have a job. If you don’t, the minute things improve you will lose many employees who you really didn’t want to lose. This happened in January 2010, following the impact of the 2008 GFC when employee mobility in Sydney and Melbourne hit record highs.

And if you are an employee who is deeply unhappy in your current role and yet at the same time a little fearful of losing your job, perhaps it might be time for some self reflection and career planning.

Try our Career Satisfaction Evaluator  – or point some of your employees to it as a helpful gesture if they’ve come to you for a chat about their situation. It’s free and might just provide you or your employees with the chance to reflect right now on the reality of the situation.

After that, if you would like to speak to a coach or one of our consultants, please contact us at any time.

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