Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


3 Telling Signs That Your Job Doesn't Match Your Personality

Are your personality and place of work at odds with each other?

Christina W / Unsplash
Source: Christina W / Unsplash

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

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

1. "Bottom-line" workplaces

Workplaces with a bottom-line mentality are those that focus exclusively on productivity, profits, and performance and pay little attention to everything else, such as employee wellness and personal relationships.

While bottom-line mentality workplaces can be problematic for just about everyone, they are especially unhealthy for people who have a tendency to be ‘obsessively passionate’ about their work. This is because passionate personalities can easily become wholly preoccupied with their jobs which can lead them to ignore 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.

2. Micro-managerial, high-stress work environments

This kind of workplace is also unhealthy for most personality types as it lacks autonomy (one of the keys to employee happiness) and typically has high turnover. People prone to neuroticism, however, must be particularly cautious about working in these types of settings as it can cause their anxiety to spike 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 investigated the factors that make people happy at work—and it turns out that even having a helpful, non-micro-managing boss does little to move the happiness needle. Specifically, the authors looked at the extent to which workplace happiness was defined by the following 11 characteristics:

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

They found that the top four drivers of workplace happiness were belonging, flexibility, inclusiveness, and purpose. Having a helpful manager was the characteristic least correlated 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.

Not surprisingly, extraverts have also struggled with the pivot to working from home—specifically in terms of being able to disconnect from work at the end of the day. The ideal scenario for extraverts, it seems, is a hybrid employment model in which they spend part of their time working from home and part in the office.


Having a job that is ill-suited to your personality can have serious psychological repercussions. Emerging research advises passionate individuals to avoid settings where their passion foments a bottom-line mentality. It advises neurotic individuals to avoid pressure-cooker environments, and it advises extraverts and less conscientious individuals to avoid exclusively work-from-home settings. Finally, it encourages all of us, regardless of personality type, to pursue jobs that afford us a high degree of autonomy and belonging.

More from Mark Travers Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today