Most Workers are Unhappy. Here is Why.

May 8, 2017 •  3 minute read • by Saeed


“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~ Confucius

Here are the stats.

According to Gallup organization, only 13% of people are actively engaged in their jobs. That means that 87% of the 230,000 international employees surveyed  were not engaged.

In other words, work is more often a source of frustration than one of fulfillment for nearly 90% of the world’s workers!

That’s a staggering number of unhappy workers.

Research through these and other similar surveys, reveals that happiness at work comes down to three fundamentals that if not met lead to unhappy employees and consequently unproductive workplaces.

  1. I feel appreciated at my work

It has famously (and rightly) been said that “employees leave their supervisors not their jobs.” If you leave work every day thinking “My boss doesn’t appreciate me,” you’re not alone. And when the majority of the people in a workplace feel this way, the result is an unhappy workplace. Even though human capital is considered the most important resource workplaces have, most do not encourage a culture of gratitude towards their workers. It makes no sense for companies not to deliberately infuse their cultures, from top to bottom, with an “attitude of gratitude.”

From boss to employee and from peer to peer, gratitude encourages repeat performance and leads to a happier and more productive work place culture.

  1. I am growing at my work

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure of workers between the ages of 25 to 34 is only three years. That’s less than a third of the tenure among people aged 55 to 64 years old.

How do those average three years break down? Well, typically in your first year, you are learning the nuts and bolts of the job. In your second, you are creating value and in your third, you are making real impact.  Beyond that, if you’re not learning, then you’re not growing. Beyond those years, people are beginning to develop career inertia. Millennials in particular value growth, learning and professional challenges.

Too many workplaces are asking what can our workers do for us and not asking, what can we do for them. If you are an employer, it is incumbent upon  you to understand what motivates your workforce and how to maintain their engagement. No matter the size of your company, you should be conducting an annual employee engagement survey to understand where the challenges and opportunities are because churn is the eventual death knell of your company’s growth.

  1. I find meaning in my work

This New York Times story on why many hate their jobs tells the tale. In a 2013 survey of 12,000 professionals by the Harvard Business Review, half said they felt their job had no “meaning and significance,” and an equal number were unable to relate to their company’s mission. A more recent poll among Brits revealed that as many as 37% think they have a job that is utterly useless.

On the other hand, employees who derive meaning from their work are more than three times as likely to stay. In fact, meaning at work ranked higher than compensation, work-life balance and other variables usually associated with happiness at work.

Employers who are singularly focused on task completion, are missing the opportunity to engage employees in the broader context and meaning of their work and as a consequence driving their employees away. They may be getting work done in the short term, but the cost of turnover, training, and loss of talent is hurting their business in the long term. This is the false economy of productivity.

Here is the bottom line: If your workplace doesn’t value and appreciate you, if it  isn’t challenging you and providing you with opportunities to learn and grow, and if it isn’t fulfilling you, then cut the cord. Your future self will thank you for it.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content and photography by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

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Last thing, if you liked this post, be sure to check out another one of my recent posts on how happiness is the wrong pursuit!

Best,

Saeed

 

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