If you've been finding yourself less enamored with your job lately and you're over the age of 35 or even approaching that age, that might have something to do with it.
A survey of more than 2,000 U.K. employees by Happiness Works on behalf of human resource firm Robert Half found that one in 6 employed workers over the age of 35 were unhappy with their job. The biggest question is, what makes the workforce so much different for people over the age of 35 than for those who are younger?
Many have hypothesized that those who are younger are simply more eager to join the workforce and are still excited about their job, while those who have been working longer tend to have more senior positions which include more stress, or the feelings of not fulfilling employment potential. Many employees over the age of 35 have started families, or are thinking of starting a family, and are likely to prioritize their work / life balance and care of children over a job they find unfulfilling.
"There comes a time when either you haven't achieved success, work has burned you out, or lived experience tells you family is more important," said Professor Cary Cooper, a workplace researcher at Manchester Business School. "You ask yourself: 'What am I doing this for?'"
Having a family to provide for can also contribute to the stresses that those who are over 35 feel at work. The survey found that one third of those aged over 35 found their job stressful, while only a quarter of 18-35 year-olds found that they were dealing with workplace stress. Once you have a family it becomes increasingly difficult to leave a job with security even if you're unhappy, knowing that you have dependents who rely on you. Before one has children and the responsibilities of a family it may be easier to leave a job that you're unhappy with in search of employment that brings you greater personal satisfaction.
“Much of the [increasing stress] comes from balancing work and family responsibilities that might not have existed earlier in their careers,” Stephanie Naznitsky told Philly Mag.
Still, Cooper says there may be a way to help find happiness at work if you're feeling less than fulfilled. He says it's important for employees to make friends at work and participate in the occasional happy hour or social activity. Finding a personal passion project at work one can focus on will also help with job satisfaction, and make sure to communicate with your boss or management team about your wishes for your career path.