Whether you’re a Gen-Yer or even a Boomer, Americans continue to grow
increasingly unhappy at work. A January press release from the
Conference Board surveyed 5,000 U.S. households and finds that only 45%
of those surveyed say they’re satisfied with their jobs. That’s down
from 61% in 1987, the first year in which the survey was conducted.
While one in 10 Americans is now unemployed, their working compatriots
continue to grow increasingly unhappy.
The report on job satisfaction between 1987 and 2009 covers numerous
categories including interest in work, job security, job design,
organizational health, managerial quality and extrinsic rewards. In
fact, 22% of those surveyed don’t expect to be in their current job in a
year. That’s not primarily about being laid-off, but simply an issue
of increasing dissatisfaction.
In extensive research summarized by Jeff Pfeffer of Stanford, Pfeffer
emphasized that companies and their management practices have profound
effects on human beings and their relationships. And, he went on to
conclude, the evidence suggests that in many instances the these effects
are more pervasive and more harmful than the effects on the physical
environment. Among the issues described were lack of sick leave, little
to no vacation time, workplace bullying, long work hours, as well
as lack of health coverage or retirement assistance. On the flip side,
the evidence on the connection between bulding humane work places and
corporate performance is voluminous.
If you work in an unsatisfactory setting, you’ll be looking for a new
job as soon as the economy begins to turn up. Make your choice of a
new job very carefully. Any kind of job change will cause all kinds of
internal challenges. It’s not just the learning curve, the different
managers, the change in organizational culture and expectations, it’s
also all the new organizational “rules,” the adjustments to corporate
“politics,” having to navigate unclear expectations and learn the new
Harvard’s Boris Groysberg surveyed numerous execs and found common
missteps. Although the article is written to execs, all of his
conclusions apply to any job change. Here’s a quick summary of three of
- Failing to do enough research. Study the firm with as much
thoroughness as buying a block of stocks, a new car or a new house.
- Focusing excessively on the money. Sometimes the need for more
cash overrides your analysis of the job opportunity and the
- Thinking short term. Look beyond the immediate opportunity to
what the future might hold.
If you’re giving serious thought to this issue, it’s worth putting
out the $6.50 for a download from Harvard Business Review for Five
Ways to Bungle a Job Change .