3 Signs It Is Time To Find A Job That Matches Your Personality Better

New studies in psychology can help you tell if your personality and workplace are out of sync.

By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | April 4, 2022

It is never easy to make the decision to change jobs, but ripping the band-aid off may be better for your psychological and emotional well-being than enduring the negative effects of an unsuitable workplace.

According to new psychological research, here are three types of workplaces that can be particularly draining for certain personality types.

#1. Bottom-line workplaces

Workplaces with a bottom-line mentality are those that prioritize productivity, profits, and performance over everything else, such as employee wellness and personal relationships.

While bottom-line mentality workplaces can be problematic for almost anyone, they are especially harmful for people who are 'obsessively passionate' about their work. This is due to the fact that passionate people can easily become completely preoccupied with their jobs, causing them to neglect their personal relationships and psychological well-being.

If you are someone who finds yourself in a bottom-line mentality workplace with no near-term exit in sight, research suggests you should try to keep your obsessive passion at bay and instead try to pursue your work with 'harmonious passion,' or a sense of balance and flexibility.

This can be achieved by engaging in mindfulness-based activities that create psychological distance between you and your work, as well as seeing a therapist.

#2. Micromanagement and high-stress workplaces

This type of workplace is also unsuitable for most personality types because it lacks autonomy (one of the keys to employee happiness) and has a high turnover rate. People who are prone to neuroticism, on the other hand, must be especially cautious about working in these types of settings because it can cause their anxiety to skyrocket to unhealthy levels.

There's also research showing that high-stress jobs with limited job security can cause long-term negative changes in one's personality, such as increases in disagreeableness and neuroticism.

Another study looked into what makes people happy at work, and it turns out that even having a helpful, non-micromanaging boss does little to increase happiness. Specifically, the authors looked at the extent to which workplace happiness was defined by the following 11 characteristics:

  1. Working in an inclusive and respectful environment
  2. Learning at work
  3. Having a manager who helps us succeed
  4. Being paid fairly
  5. Feeling supported
  6. Trusting our colleagues
  7. Feeling like we achieve our goals at work
  8. Having a clear sense of purpose
  9. Feeling appreciated
  10. Feeling a sense of belonging
  11. Having time and location flexibility

They discovered that the top four workplace happiness drivers were belonging, flexibility, inclusiveness, and purpose. Having a helpful boss was the trait least associated with workplace happiness, regardless of personality type.

#3. Exclusively work-from-home positions

Working from home might sound like a dream come true. But, for some personalities, it is better in theory than in practice. One recent study explored some of the bad habits that have ensued from the pivot to remote work, such as being overly sedentary, consuming alcohol during working hours, and watching Netflix or shopping online during work. The researchers found that people low on the personality dimension of conscientiousness, i.e., lacking discipline and action-orientedness, were most likely to adopt these frowned-upon behaviors.

Extraverts, unsurprisingly, have struggled with the transition to working from home, particularly in terms of being able to disconnect from work at the end of the day. The ideal scenario for extroverts appears to be a hybrid employment model in which they work part-time from home and part-time in the office.

Conclusion: Working in a job that is not a good fit for your personality can have serious psychological consequences. According to new research, passionate people should avoid situations where their passion foments a bottom-line mentality. It advises neurotic people to avoid high-pressure situations, and it advises extroverts and less conscientious people to avoid working solely from home. Finally, it encourages all of us, regardless of personality type, to pursue jobs that give us a lot of autonomy and a sense of belonging.