According to the Conference Board research group, in an article published by the AP, only 45% of Americans like their job, down from 49% in 2008, and 61% in 1987 (when the survey was first conducted). The other 55%? Unhappy.
‘Hate’ might be a strong word, but you get the point: Americans no likey their jobs. Reasons cited in the survey for contributing to unhappiness included:
- Only 43% of workers feel that they have job security.
- The average employee contribution for single-coverage medical care benefits rose from $48 a month to $76 a month between 1999 and 2006.
- Only 51% find their jobs interesting (down from 70% in 1987). Wait, weren’t we supposed to be transitioning to the ‘creative’ economy?
- Our commutes are longer.
- We like our co-workers less.
- And we like our bosses less.
The survey didn’t look into how overworked we are and how that has eroded our work/life balance, but I have a sneaking suspicion that is a major component as well.
Some of these things we can control. Others we cannot (barring taking a new job). Having been there myself, I’ve found that the best way to deal with it is to take a rational approach to help regroup, restore clarity, and give you some much needed perspective. I’ll show you how.
5 Steps to Take when you Absolutely Hate your Job
Step 1: Be Honest with Yourself. Why Do you Hate your Job?
Before you get in to a deep analysis, you first need to ask yourself, “why do I hate my job?”, “is this job for me?”, or even “is this career for me?”. And this is something you probably should not make a snap judgment on. Not liking your job could be due to a number of factors, and before you get up and quit, you need to find out why you really don’t like it. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- “Do I not like this particular job, this particular employer, or this particular career?” (this is an important distinction to make)
- “Am I under-challenged?”
- “Am I under-paid?”
- “Do I fit in to the culture?”
- “Am I ultimately on the path to self-employment?”
Step 2: Will Solving the Reasons for your Unhappiness Make you Happier?
If the answer to this question is yes and you think that solving the problems will result in more job satisfaction, move on to the next step and try to address them head on. If the answer is no, or that you’ll only moderately be less miserable, then maybe you are in the wrong job.
Step 3: Separate the things you can Control and the things you Cannot
This may be the most important step. Creating a list of things you can control keeps this exercise solutions-focused. It gives you hope and something to constructively work on. Make a list and spend some time contemplating how you can address each problem. Then address them. Have a winner’s mentality. You might just find that you were unhappy because you hadn’t addressed the problems in the first place.
Step 4: Do you Need an Attitude Adjustment?
If you have an honest list of problems that are out of your control that are leading to a lot of job dissatisfaction, are these things truly worthy of the power to make you miserable, or is an attitude adjustment necessary? A very smart philosopher once said “life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it”. Is your cynicism getting the best of you and are the things leading to you being miserable really worth it? Maybe it’s just time to get over something and move on.
Whether your attitude is the problem or not, the next (and final) step should help add perspective and tell you what to do next.
Step 5: Look Around and Complete the ‘Grass is Greener Exercise’
When I have felt like I’ve been stuck in a rut at my job, the best thing I’ve done for myself is to look for other jobs and network. When you find that you have other options it does two important things:
- takes the weight off your shoulders.
- let’s you make honest comparisons.
As for the former, job dissatisfaction can result when you think that you are backed into a corner and have absolutely no other options. When you realize that is not true, it takes so much weight off of your current situation. Suddenly, you might feel free to take more risks at work, enjoy the people around you more, and try to make the best of the time you have left there.
For the latter, you now know that you have options and you can explore them. This is what I like to call the ‘Grass is Greener Exercise’. Finding other jobs allows you to create a list of pros and cons and compare them to your existing job and ultimately answer the following questions to determine if indeed the grass is really greener.
- how does ‘real wage‘ aka ‘total compensation’ compare between jobs?
- would a new job require me to move? Can I afford the cost of living increase?
- have I learned 95% of what I can in my job? Would I learn more if I moved in to this other job?
- is the prospective job more in line with what I want my career to be?
- would I fit in to the culture better?
Answering these questions will give you the knowledge you need to determine whether or not it is time to move on. If you decide not to, odds are that you will have a new-found appreciation for your existing job. Either way, you will likely be happier as a result.
That said, don’t quit your job just because you don’t like it, when you don’t have a better solution lined up. That could result in you being in a worse-off situation.
Hating your Job Discussion:
- Do you currently ‘hate’ your job? What have you done or will you do to address it?
- Why do you hate your job?
- What has helped you the most when you’ve been stuck in a rut at your job?
Are you supposed to like your job? Every time I see something like this I just think, “I don’t think my dad has asked himself this question, EVER.” He asks himself: can I do it? and does it pay the bills?
I love my job, but I am of a personality where I am prone to like almost anything. It would have to be a hostile environment or require skills I didn’t have for me to be unhappy. A job is just a job…
@ Honey – I do think some people like their jobs, or at least feel good about them. Very few people ‘love’ their jobs. If you can at least feel good about your job or get some satisfaction from it, then you’re a step ahead of most. For some, a job is just a paycheck, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you are able to find other ways to fulfill yourself.
@G.E., I do agree that most people probably aren’t lucky enough to *love* their jobs. Nor are most people unlucky enough to have a job that makes them physically ill with stress and exhaustion, like my boyfriend. Most people are somewhere in between. Perhaps an additional step to take if you have your job is to ask if your life is fulfilling outside of that job? Perhaps if you take more steps to make your free time rewarding, you can get through the daily slog a bit easier…
I think you are exactly right – and loving my job (mostly.
I don’t think people are really that much more unsatisfied with their bosses or coworkers. I think perhaps that people are unsatisfied with their jobs over all and that feeling seeps into other areas of their work, such as how they feel about the people they work with or for. That said, paperwork and sitting in a cubicle aren’t really fun in any job.
I think Daniel Pink’s work “Drive” has a lot to say on the matter of motivation and loving your job. Autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Nowadays most jobs move exactly in the opposite direction. Often you are told when to show up and go home as well as how to do your job.
You end up doing the same work month after month, year after year. You can have 10 years of “experience” but it’s just the same year of experience performed 10 times.
Then, there’s no real purpose for it all. There’s no context or direction to it. Many jobs leave a large chasm between the point and the results and what you’re actually doing.
Do what you love. And if you can’t do that, then do whatever makes you the most money.
And I thought I was the sensible one. Tnakhs for setting me straight.
I hate my job. Two years ago I made 72,000 a year. The place I worked was closed and I was transfered to a different location with the same company. Now I make 28,000 a year. I understand taking a pay cut but not a 44,000 anual cut. I have been with the company fo 5+ years and they highred a person with no experience with the position and no time with the company for a larger income then mine. This place sucks and with economey I will never land another job at 72,000 anually untill the economy improves(if it does)
I hate my job as well. I’m the classic “stuck by wage and age”. Been with the same company for 17 years and make a low 6 figure salary, but mid 50’s age. I can’t go anywhere else and make anything near the wage I do now. Heck 50K would be good but the market is tough now and choices are slim! Plus with a feeling of no job security (co recently sold) I’m not in a good place mentally. Money isn’t everything and I would take less but it’s really tough to be stuck between a rock and a hard spot.
I’m over challenged, my company relies on me WAY too much because I am the only intelligent person working there, everyone else’s jobs are incredibly easy and I contemplating suicide now because I just can’t live my life like this anymore, I am working so hard and barely getting by financially and sit at a computer all day just getting fat and stressed and depressed and pale from being indoors all day… humanity is not meant to live like this, we are tormenting ourselves to make a very few at the top wealthy, you’ll never be at the top with them, they will just continue using us all to make them rich, they will never treat you like a equal human being. I don’t want to be on top with them, I despise them, I just want to live freely in balance with nature, not working for the monetary system. Maybe someday humanity will build a system that creates happiness for everyone, that focuses on people’s needs, there are thousands of people starving because they don’t have “money”. All we need is food and shelter and other basic necessities, I am sure we can figure out a better supply method than the current ones being deployed. I was just born during the wrong time in history, I expected more from humanity than this, I’m just disappointed and I don’t belong here. I can’t be a slave to my capitalistic master, it is demeaning and I don’t feel like a human, I don’t feel like I have that dignity that humans deserve to have, I feel like a machine, after they ripped my heart out and destroyed my soul, what is left is a heartless machine incapable of life.
I just read your post, John, and I hope that you are okay. I understand the feelings you feel; I’ve felt the same way too. (I just resigned from my job because of similar feelings.)
I’m with you. You’re right. We are slaves of the system. We work for 1% have fun. That’s disgusting.
John seek professional help. Many companies have resources that you can use and you can remain anonymous.