Published on: January 6, 2010The Los Angeles Times reports on a new poll released by The Conference Board saying that only 45 percent of those people surveyed are happy in their jobs - the lowest level in more than two decades. Twenty-two years ago , the Times notes, more than 60 percent of Americans said they were happy in their jobs.
According to the Times story, “Workers across all age and income brackets are increasingly dissatisfied with everything from the nature of their positions to the quality of their bosses. And relatively few derive any intangible or psychic benefits from their work. In fact, more than 1 in 5 people don’t expect to be in the same position a year from now.
“And it’s not all attributable to the recession and people being weighed down with more duties after layoffs of co-workers. Satisfaction numbers have been declining steadily through both booms and busts for much of the last two decades.”
- KC's View:
- To be honest, I find that this prompts several reactions on my part.
First, the Times correctly notes that this trend isn’t just bad for workers. It also is bad for companies. It means that employers are not taking seriously one of the components of their jobs - to create a workplace that is satisfying and happy. Granted, there are places where this is more difficult than others...but is there any workplace out there that wouldn’t be more productive if the employees felt better about being there? And isn’t productivity the ultimate goal of every employer?
I’m not arguing for some utopian view of the workplace here. But I would suggest that the retailers, for example, who say that their first priority is their employees, because they understand that happy employees make for happy customers, are among the ones who get it. And I’m saying that the employers that have made a point of not laying off anyone during the recession - because they understand that creating stability and a “we’re all in this together” environment is one of the best ways to make sure that a company survives the tough times and is prosperous in the good times.
Besides, if the survey is correct and 20 percent of the people polled actually are not in the same jobs a year from now, think about the costs in terms of things like training, hiring and unemployment insurance.
One other tangential note: If I were an employer, it seems to me that this would be a perfect time to identify the right people who could help me raise my game ... and then, having hired them, do everything possible to make them happy and fulfilled.
However...I have to admit to a little bit of impatience with all these folks who are complaining about not being happy at work. At least you have jobs!!!!!
Now, I’m lucky. I love my job. It may be one of the best jobs in the world. It certainly is the best gig I’ve ever had. So I’m spoiled.
But I also think that to some extent, we all have a responsibility for our own happiness. (For some reason, I keep thinking of the scene in Moonstruck when Cher slaps Nicolas Cage and says, ‘Snap out of it!” But I digress...for some reason I have movies on the brain these days.)
Here’s a thought. If just half the people who say they are unhappy in their work actually decided to be happy - to take responsibility for finding joy in their work - I’d be willing to bet that it would have at least some impact on the other half. because unhappiness - like happiness - can be contagious.
Again, I realize we are living in tough times. It is hard to be too happy when one reads the newspapers, watches cable news, pays for gasoline, stands on security lines at airports, etc...
But to refer to another movie - somewhat obliquely, for reasons that will immediately become apparent - I think that maybe we ought to adopt as a mantra the most famous line from the Tom Cruise movie, Risky Business.
Know what I mean?