Miserable Modern Workers: Why are they so unhappy?

Miserable Modern Workers: Why are they so unhappy?

Excerpted from an SHRM blog by Dana Wilkie

Today’s workers are disengaged. They lack motivation. They’re bored. They’re stressed. They’re burned out.

Researchers at Gallup, Randstad and Mercer conducting survey after survey have come to these conclusions. In fact, these surveys seem to paint an increasingly bleak picture of life at work.

At a time when technology has arguably made the workplace more efficient than ever, laws are protecting employees better than ever, and companies are offering benefits perhaps more generous than ever, why would U.S. workers be so checked out?

“One could argue that today’s employees are as equally stressed as their predecessors, but for different reasons,” said Jodi Chavez, president of Atlanta-based Randstad Professionals, a segment of Randstad US, which provides finance, accounting, HR, sales, marketing, legal staffing and recruitment services. “They fear having their jobs outsourced to another country, have anxiety about how best to work alongside new technologies such as automation and robotics, have increased financial pressures with rising student loan debt and late retirement, and feel pressure to be ‘on’ and answering e-mails 24/7.”

Gallup has been measuring employee engagement in the United States since 2000 and finds that less than one-third of U.S. workers report that they are “engaged” in their jobs. Of the country’s approximately 100 million full-time employees, 51 percent say they are “not engaged” at work—meaning they feel no real connection to their jobs and tend to do the bare minimum. Another 17.5 percent are “actively disengaged”— meaning they resent their jobs, tend to gripe to co-workers and drag down office morale. Altogether, that’s a whopping 68.5 percent who aren’t happy at work.

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