According to a Gallup poll taken in 2015, only 32% of the American workforce describes themselves as “actively engaged” in the workplace. This refers to people that are not only satisfied with their jobs, but are motivated to seek out new challenges and go beyond the original scope of their job. This means that the other 68% of workers are not engaged at work, with a minority of these people actively hating their jobs. It is almost impossible to calculate the exact value of lost productivity as a result of employee disengagement, but it is certainly in the billions of dollars per year.
If you find yourself being part of this 68%, you’re hardly alone. The factors that lead people to be disengaged and unhappy are as numerous as the individuals themselves, which makes it difficult for business to actively target the root causes of their discontent. Long work hours, poor pay, unstable work schedules, a lack of benefits, and overall disillusionment with the company are just some of the potential causes. If you want to reignite your passion for your work, you will first need to ask yourself why you are unhappy in the first place. Whether the causes result from personal problems, your bosses or coworkers, or with the company as a whole, identifying the source is the first step towards acknowledging the problem and solving it.
The following list delineates some of the more common reasons as to why employees find themselves experiencing dissatisfaction with their jobs.
1) They lack defined goals
When people are first hired, they are given a concrete job description that tells the employee exactly what is expected of them. In theory this should mean that there are no surprises when you go to work, but sometimes your managers will expect different (and even contradictory) things. This issue is especially common with companies undergoing internal reorganization; shuffling around or laying people off means that those who remain in their department will suddenly find themselves taking on different roles and duties than was originally expected of them. Not all of these people will take to this change well, and others will find themselves performing tasks that they know little about.
This can also manifest itself when your superiors do not effectively communicate goals and expectations to you. If your boss is distant or uncommunicative, you may find yourself feeling lost or confused as to what you need to work on. This can be quite frustrating to workers who are actively trying to get promoted or earn a raise.
2) Their schedule offers no stability
Some jobs are unable to avoid having their employees be on-call. Paramedics, fire fighters, police officers – these people are expected to respond to crises as they happen, and people who apply for these jobs understand that this comes with the territory, so to speak. However, other jobs where this is not a necessity still keep their employees at the mercy of their business’ immediate needs. Retail workers are commonly subject to this treatment, especially if their departments are understaffed. Other businesses simply fail to provide schedules far enough in advance to let their employees make accommodations for their time at work. A workplace that forces your life to revolve around its whims is a recipe for miserable (and tired) workers.
3) The pay is not commensurate with the job
What “fair pay” for a job is differs with every person you ask. But while most people do not suggest paying 25 dollars an hour to cashiers, you’ll find much more agreement for those working for rates of pay well below what their industry’s median salary is. Unpaid internships are the most egregious examples of abuse, but it’s not uncommon to find somebody being paid 20-40% below market rates for a job during times of higher unemployment. These people often know when they’re being underpaid for what they do, and their tolerance for their working environment drops considerably when they feel like they are being ripped off. This can also apply to people who work long hours for low pay – this is more common in manual industries like construction and agriculture.
4) They are unhappy with the job itself
Sometimes, unhappiness in the workplace stems from the person simply not enjoying what they do. The benefits can be great, the pay can be good, and the workplace can be supportive, but if the person genuinely dislikes what they do then they will never be happy at that job. A deeply introverted person is unlikely to ever be happy at a sales job, just as a deeply extroverted person will be similarly unhappy working a job that requires minimal contact with other people. Avoiding this source of discontent requires that you understand yourself well enough to know if you are compatible with the job that you are being paid to perform. If you know that you do not enjoy certain activities as much as others, try to find a job that aligns with your own goals and interests as much as possible.