January 22, 2010
According to a new survey from the Conference Board research group, only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work. That was the lowest level ever recorded in more than 22 years of studying the issue. In 2008, 49 percent of those surveyed reported satisfaction with their jobs.
The drop in workers' happiness can be partly blamed on the economy, which has made it difficult for some people to find challenging and suitable jobs. But worker dissatisfaction has been on the rise for more than two decades.
Workers have grown steadily unhappy for a variety of reasons:
— Fewer workers consider their jobs to be interesting.
— Incomes have not kept up with inflation.
— The soaring cost of health insurance has eaten into workers' take-home pay.
The job satisfaction trend has already impacted America's competitiveness and productivity. And it could make unhappy older workers less inclined to take the time to share their knowledge and skills with younger workers.
Conference Board officials and outside economists suggested that weak wage growth helps explain why workers' unhappiness has been rising for more than 20 years. After growing in the 1980s and 1990s, average household incomes adjusted for inflation have been shrinking since 2000.
Workers under 25 expressed the highest level of dissatisfaction. Roughly 64 percent of workers under 25 say they were unhappy in their jobs. The recession has been especially hard on young workers, who face fewer opportunities now and lower wages, some analysts say.
The most satisfied were those ages 25 to 34 that may see some opportunities for upward mobility as baby boomers retire. Around 47 percent of workers 25 to 34 say they were happy in their jobs.
Here are some tips to help you get over that “Waaaaa, poor me” syndrome:
- Get off your behind: If work is depressing to you, maybe you’re just depressed! Symptoms may include: insomnia, headaches, muscle tension and lack of energy. Try exercising and eating right. Take a break every few hours and move around. Go for a walk when you get home to relax instead of melting into your recliner in front of your television set. Get PHYSICAL. Try: Lifetime Fitness, L.A. Fitness, or Curves in Houston!
- Time management: Have a to-do list and check off the accomplishments. Be proud of what you get done and tell your boss. This may get you more recognition and it will give you a sense of what you are accomplishing instead of the massive pile ahead of you that still needs to be done. This may also encourage you to stop procrastinating and do the important things FIRST.
- Office gossip: Shut up. Your boss doesn’t hate you and it doesn’t matter to you if Sally and Bob from Accounting are bumping uglies after work. If it is none of your business, make it none of your business.
- Don’t ruin your day off: So many people stay connected on their days off in hopes of “catching up.” What they are actually doing is creating more stress by not relaxing, having fun, or spending quality time with family and friends. Work/Life balance is CRITICAL to your success. Go to the Houston Zoo!
- Get past the small things: I really don’t like mult-colored Post-It notes. I’m a “yellow ONLY” kind of guy. But, if all they have in the supply cabinet is neon pink, baby-diaper green, and firetruck red….so be it. It is still a Post-It note. You can mention your preference to whomever buys the things later, but do not let the small things ruin your day!
- Your salary, THEIR salary: When you accepted the job, you accepted a salary. When you accept your performance review and raise, you accept a new salary (most of the time). All of that has NOTHING to do with what anyone else in the department makes!! Maybe they are better at negotiating than you are. Maybe they are better at kissing behind than you are. Do not compete with co-workers on salary or promotion. Do your best, then go home.
- Care: What are the company’s goals? What is your contribution toward those goals? If you can’t answer those questions…you may be considered as someone who doesn’t care. That may impact your satisfaction level. Care about the company, care about your pride in performance and satisfaction will come.
- Help others: Honestly, one of the best ways to be seen as a contributor to the company is to help others reach their goals. GIVE…and you will get. When you are in need of assistance, others will come to your aid if you have done the same. When a co-worker is in a “bad mood”, try to cheer them up! Make friends with the “simple things”; a candy dish on your desk, a thank-you note when someone helps you, or a pleasant smile throughout your day.
Contact James Hamilton: firstname.lastname@example.org or find me at: Twitter Houston’s Economic Policy Examiner LinkedIN MySpace
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