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Why People Hate Their Jobs – And How Managers Can Fix It

Feb13
Here's a test: The next time you're in a room with two or more people, ask them how they like their jobs.

I recently tried this little social experiment when I was waiting at a People Mover stop with a few people. Some of their replies:

“I don’t hate my job, but I don’t love it either.”

“Yes. I hate my job. Completely and totally.”

“I’m just grateful that I have a job!”

Out of this small group, not one person expressed excitement about their job. And if you don’t believe my completely unscientific survey, a recent study found that only 13 percent of people across the world actually enjoy their jobs.

A Disengaged Workplace

So, people aren’t crazy about their jobs. But why?

A recent post on LinkedIn by Ilya Pozin, CEO of Open Me, discussed a few key reasons. Among them:

  • Social media hasn’t helped when it comes to job envy. Hearing about a friend’s awesome boss or perks can leave the dissatisfied worker feeling dejected.
  • In too many workplaces, employees do not believe that they are valued. Everybody needs to feel recognized for their contribution. Whether it’s verbal praise or a salary bump, workers need to feel they’re appreciated and valued.
  • In a shaky economy, employees continue to anxiously wonder if their jobs are stable. One wrong move, they worry, and they’re out the door with a long line of replacements waiting in the wings. It’s hard to enjoy anything when you’re constantly looking over your shoulder.
  • Salary, salary, salary. Whether workers are Googling salary calculator websites or listening to their co-workers overshare at the water cooler, salary information seems more readily available than in the past. Nothing takes the wind out of a worker’s sails faster than learning they’re not being paid what they believe they’re worth.
  • The person at the top. Pozin’s article declared that the top reason people hate their jobs is a crappy boss. That so much of a worker’s satisfaction lies with one person is upsetting, but there is hope, if only because there exists executive training courses that can ostensibly improve a manager’s performance.

A Happier Workplace – For Managers and Employees

So what does this mean for managers? A lot. Employee dissatisfaction and high turnover can cost companies serious money. Most people want to do well at their jobs, and if your employees are routinely depressed, unmotivated, or walking balls of stress, it’s time to do something about it. And don’t just think you can solve this with a team-building exercise or event. Creating a workplace that makes people look forward to work is a commitment that needs to permeate every layer of your organization, from the c-suite on down.

To help employees become more engaged and happier at work, keep the lines of communication open for two-way feedback, be generous with praise (and, when appropriate, bonuses), and offer perks whenever possible. The employee-employer relationship is just like any other relationship: we all want to feel appreciated, respected, and listened to. A note of appreciation or recognition in front of one’s colleagues is a huge first step toward a happier workplace.