Still Possible to be Happy at Work

Something about “don’t worry, be happy” sounds trite, but is important, said one Tulsa human resources expert.
“Every job has its degree of stress,” said Debra Arntsen, co-owner of FORESight. “But, if it is something you like doing, the stress is something you can work through,” she said.
Arntsen and her sister, Leonne Harris, adapted the strategies they used in career consulting and coaching to meet needs of people aged 15 to 25 who often face some of the toughest transitions of their lives.
FORESight, or Focus, Organize, Results, Enthusiasm Sight, provides a structured approach for dealing with transition, Arntsen said.
“If I had to summarize what we do in one word — what I give them is ‘control,’” she said.
Arntsen spent years working with staffing companies, including Olsen — the third largest in the world. By the time she left the company, she was area vice president covering eight states.
Lack of Skills
Something that leads to unhappiness at work that Arntsen has noticed for years is that people lack necessary skills to survive even the day-to-day dilemmas.
“I’ve hired lots of people, and in many young people, I saw lots of what was lacking in life skills,” Arntsen said.
The skills Arnsten often coaches help people manage their life — whether they are moving from high school to college or trade school or from school to the workplace.
“The toughest part is to get off your butt and move — not just physically but emotionally,” she said. “The first step is the toughest.”
If people do something they enjoy every day, their current job won’t seem so bad, she said. Of course, people can always make their current job work, or decide that it is time to quit.
Kids Pampered
Many kids have been allowed to grow up in an artificial environment, Arntsen said. Teens exist in a greenhouse atmosphere in up through middle school to high school. They have existed in a protected world.
“They have been nurtured. They’ve been told ‘you are the smartest in the class. The most talented.’ Whatever. Then, they enter the real world and find that it is cold. Not that it is a bad place — just that their parents are not there for them daily. Those teachers who doted on them thought they were the best and brightest — well, now there are plenty of other people who were also the ‘best and brightest.’”
For more than two decades, HR consultants have seen the trend that young people leaving high school lack the ability to handle rapid change, Arntsen said.
Even at a local high school, there is a “transition specialist.”
Arntsen is convinced FORESight fills a niche.
“We have not met one person who said, ‘That is not needed,’” Arntsen said. “They do need those skills.”
Many adults failed to adapt early in their lives.
“With anything, the older a person becomes, the harder it is to make changes,” Arntsen said. “Then, they get into a job they enjoy but do not know how to interact in the workplace.”
The Little Things
What succeeds in business is simple — but it is not easy, Arnsten said.
“It is the little stuff we do everyday. It not easy to incorporate into our lives because it does not seem so important, so we overlook it,” she said.
Another problem today is the amount of mediocrity that has become acceptable in the workplace, Arntsen said.
“In the ‘real world,’ someone might get to a spot where mediocrity is acceptable,” she said. “But at some point, if you are not always doing your best, it will catch up to you. It can catch you at the point in your life where you have a family and kids — and that is not a good time for it to catch up to you.”
That’s why Arntsen cautions people who might be in a place where they are not being challenged, to re-think what they’re doing.
If they do not feel glad about what they do — things can change — there is a new boss and the person who has been allowed to plod along where no one expects much from them for the last 20 years is in trouble, Arntsen said.
“You cannot bring yourself up to a high standard overnight,” she said. “That is why it is important to be somewhere that you like and are challenged.”
What Workers Want
For example, employees want to feel as if they know and have access to information in their workplace. They want to learn skills, develop their capabilities and grow their knowledge and careers.
HR consultants report that workers want to feel they have the opportunity to take advantage of developmental opportunities. Stepping out demonstrates commitment, she said.
Also, employees want leadership — that sense of being on the right track, going somewhere that has been defined and is important. They like being part of something bigger than themselves. Employees like to know that they work for someone who they can trust.
Arntsen advises people making a transition in their career to use the right combination of skills, personality and values.
“The ideal is to use our skills, combined with our values in life — do you mind traveling, or prefer being home with family? Do you want to be involved with the community? Do you enjoy going out and meeting new people?”
Take Charge
People stuck in an unhappy work situation must find something positive — even if it’s a job search.
“They have to start doing small steps today — or they will never get there,” Arntsen said. “If they refuse to accept that this is their lot in life, then, when they wake up every morning and hate their job — do something that will result in a change a month from now or a year from now.” ?

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