Stuck in a Work Rut?

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Polls show that more Americans are staying in their jobs for longer periods of time, but that can lead to the dreaded workplace rut. Co-host Renee Montagne talks to Money magazine's Donna Rosato about how to get unstuck.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

On Wednesdays, we talk about the workplace, and today we want to look at the job that's become a little too familiar. You know, the sticky notes that have been on the wall for years, the chair that has the same old squeak, the job that makes you feel like you're in a rut. Donna Rosato covers the workplace for Money magazine, and she's been thinking about this problem, joins us from our New York bureau.

Good morning.

Ms. DONNA ROSATO (Money Magazine): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: So what are the most common reasons for people to be dissatisfied on the job?

Ms. ROSATO: Most studies show even though most people think that if I made more money, I'd be happier at my job, it's actually the relationships at your job, at your work that really influence how satisfied you are. That's your co-workers. That's your boss. So a really simple thing that you can do to feel more engaged and excited about your job is to look around the crowd that you hang out with. Are you hanging around people who are complaining all the time and they're whining? Try to surround yourself by people who are more positive, people who are the movers and shakers at work. And you'll, by association, be more positive hanging out with people who are more positive.

MONTAGNE: What then, beyond that, can one do to change the job itself, or if you can't really change the job itself dramatically, make it more interesting to you?

Ms. ROSATO: A very simple thing you can do is just to try to stay more current in your job. Everyone's probably reading the same daily newspaper, the same industry publication. Break out a little bit beyond your usual reading, read a blog. I think almost every industry has a blog associated with it. Maybe you'll hear about a deal going on or a new product. It's just a way to kind of shake yourself out of your usual routine.

MONTAGNE: Well, beyond that, is there any sort of payoff in going to your boss and sitting down and saying, `Can we redesign this job?'

Ms. ROSATO: Yes. You need to be proactive about your own job. I was chatting with an executive director at Southwest Airlines, and she said for her own report, she encourages people to come into her office at any time to talk about their career. She herself will visit with her boss once a quarter to find out, how am I doing? What are our next projects? What can I be doing better? So a great thing to do, don't wait for your annual review to see how you're doing. Drop in on your boss. It doesn't have to be a formal thing.

MONTAGNE: Well, what about these sort of old-fashioned things, like getting there on time and making sure everybody knows it?

Ms. ROSATO: Yeah, that...

MONTAGNE: That might make them feel good about you and, thus, you feel good about what you're doing.

Ms. ROSATO: You know, there's a statistic from the Department of Labor that Americans are staying at their jobs longer and longer. Something like a quarter of all people age 35 to 44 have been on the same job for more than 10 years. If you've been doing that, you're probably pretty comfortable and you might be kind of coming in a little bit late every day. Maybe you're wearing more casual clothes. An easy way to get a little bit more engaged, think back to when you--it was your first day of school. You got new supplies. You got new clothes. You showed up right on time. Kind of treat your job that way, and you might be a little bit more excited. They seem like small things, but it can really help.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Ms. ROSATO: Thank you very much.

MONTAGNE: Donna Rosato is a staff writer for Money magazine.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP (Host): And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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