When The Love Is Gone

How to reignite passion for the job

Charles McKoy has grown used to the shrill of is alarm clock, set every weekday morning at 3:35 a.m. for the past five years. Despite the early start, McKoy, who works for Jet Blue airlines’ customer service ground operations, reports dutifully to John F. Kennedy International Airport for an eight hour shift, which begins at 5 a.m. — and loves it.

Although many studies have shown overall job satisfaction throughout the years, the Conference Board, a nonprofit, nonpartisan resource to business leaders, has seen sharp declines in many areas of job satisfaction since 1995. The Families and Work Institute 2002 poll projected a voluntary turnover rate of nearly 40% of employees who indicated that they were likely to leave their current employer in the next year.

Previous studies demonstrated that, for top performing individuals and teams, there is a direct correlation between job satisfaction and achievement on the job.

McKoy attributes his job satisfaction to a few factors:

Good management: He has a strong sense that his opinion matters to his employer. “Every morning, we have a brief meeting that allows the workers to voice their concerns, not only professionally but also personally,” McKoy says.

Compensation: Jet Blue offers a 401(k) plan and profit sharing. As a result, McKoy has received checks totaling as much as $10,000 at the end of the year.

Perks: Working for an airline, McKoy has only paid airfare tax on his trips to the Ivory Coast, Ghana, England, Switzerland, and Holland.

Room for personal growth: McKoy takes advantage of classes in aerodynamics, flight safety, international flight planning, and others required for him to reach his goal of becoming an aircraft dispatcher.

For those who are unhappy in their current work environment, experts say there are personal changes that can be made. Here’s what you can do to make a difference:

Reframe your projects: “Never accept an assignment as given,” writes Tom Peters, author of The Project 50 (Reinventing Work): Fifty Ways to Transform Every “Task” Into a Project That Matters, (Knopf; $15.95). “It’s all about attitude and art … an unwillingness to be painted into a dull corner,” he adds. Brainstorm with associates and mentors as well as your team. The ultimate goal is to make your project — regardless of its size — one that will be remembered.

Ask for what you want: “We spend so many hours a day at a job; if you don’t begin to speak up, work can be hard. [You] don’t have to sit there and stay in a bad situation,” says Dr. Judith Orloff, author of Positive Energy (Harmony Books; $24). Research reveals that when emotional needs are met, worker attention, cognition, and performance increase. Feeling alienated or depressed can eat away at memory function and the capacity to perform complex tasks.

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