Fed Up With Your Stupid Job? Why So Many Workers Are Unhappy

Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images

Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images

A big percentage of American workers have had enough. Between the stagnant wage growth, the shot-down requests for flexible work arrangements, and the rotten legal clauses hidden within many employment contracts, it’s no wonder so many people have their heads on a proverbial swivel, always on the lookout for an opportunity to jump ship. This, of course, is bad news for employers, who have to use up resources finding and replacing outgoing employees.

But overall, it’s a good sign for the economy.

Just how many workers are looking for greener pastures? According to the 2016 Industry & Productivity Report, released by Bolste, more than a quarter of the entire workforce is unsatisfied with their current circumstances. “Of the working Americans who report that they will definitely change jobs, half (50%) of them are Millennials,” a press release accompanying the report says. The study itself, the release continued, says the data was gathered by “accredited research firm YouGov to poll the views of a representative sample of 2,766 American adults.”

The standout findings from the report mostly centered around how unhappy American workers are. About 28% will think about getting a new job this year, and 15% are actively doing so. Around 26% are “unhappy, unmotivated, not stimulated, bored and stifled, or indifferent with their current job,” and “American employees most commonly feel their employers don’t value their ideas (20%) and independent working skills (21%).”

While these numbers aren’t alarmingly high, they do show that there’s a disconnect between employers and employees. And having a quarter of your workforce so dissatisfied that they’re ready to jump ship? That can be worrisome for businesses, who spend considerable amounts of time and money to find, recruit, train, and retain employees.

“Employee turnover is a huge strain on businesses and workers alike so it’s important to address the issue of workplace dissatisfaction,” said Bolste CEO Leif Hartwig. “To remain competitive on the world stage, American business leaders need a way to evaluate their employees’ ideas, give proper feedback and equip their teams with tools and skills to manage projects efficiently.”

In the report itself, Hartwig goes on to speculate that the elongated American workweek – which averages 47 hours – plays a role in the dissatisfaction rife among American workers. As previously mentioned, there are many things that can eat away at employees with time (stagnant wages being a big one), but Hartwig also points to “work-life balance, career fulfillment, and a sense of purpose” playing a role.

And if you’ve ever held a low-wage, low-skill job, you know how big of a role that is. If you don’t care or are completely indifferent to your work, your results will suffer.

Here are some visuals that Bolste put together to further illustrate how American workers are feeling about their jobs:

Source: Bolste

Source: Bolste

And to get more industry specific, we have this chart:

bolste 2

Source: Bolste

One of the biggest factors playing into Bolste’s findings is a lack of effective communication between employees and employers. This takes many forms, like bad or ineffective performance reviews, to a general lack of respect in the workplace. There are steps that can be take to mitigate these issues, of course, but the numbers seem to indicate that bad communicative practices are an economy-wide problem.

Though it’s not necessarily a good thing that so many people are unhappy, this report does actually transmit some relatively good news. One economic indicator used to gauge the health of the economy is the “quits rate” – or, how many people are quitting their jobs to find a new one. This obviously plays right into the Bolste study, as we’re getting a read out on just how many people that might be. The official data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the newest numbers will be released in March.

But again, why are these numbers good? The idea is that if there are a lot of people leaving their jobs to find other work, then they are confident in their ability to find it. They’re not worried that they won’t be able to get another job – showing some confidence in the overall economic conditions. With Bolste’s numbers showing that a quarter of the workforce is actually thinking about quitting? That’s not a bad sign.

Lots of people are stuck at jobs they hate, and if you’re among them, you’re not alone. Try to look at the bright side, and be sure you’re ready before actually hitting the labor market to find a new job.

Follow Sam on Facebook and Twitter @SliceOfGinger

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