A recent Gallup poll shows some distressing numbers: only 30% of our U.S. workers are engaged with their jobs, another 50% are “non-engaged,” and an astonishing 20% “actively disengaged.” So, it seems, employees not only hate their jobs; they are, most likely, less productive and “checked out.” Gallup recommends that managers play a much bigger role in engaging with employees. I think employees should get connected or get out. And “get out” comes in many flavors.
Why do so many people hate their jobs? I – and a number of other career experts – have the following hypotheses:
- Employees are staying in their roles too long. On average, workers are staying in their jobs longer, “keeping their heads down” due to the unemployment crisis. They are afraid to move, to take risks, or don’t want to make the effort to job search, internally or outside their current companies.
- Employees are abdicating the responsibility for their own career movements to their managers and companies. The days are gone when organic growth happened purely because a company was growing so fast. Employees would rather be victims than take accountability. That’s why I retired from Microsoft to write the book, Cut the Crap, Get a Job! so I could deliver an easy-to-follow process for employees to create choices. That’s the operative word: do you have choices?
- Employees are working longer hours for smaller wage or salary increases. Yes, compensation packages are being squeezed, merit increases are in the low single digits – often not keeping up with inflation – and even highly leveraged employees (for example, sales staff) are seeing their commission structures changed…for the worse.
- Work-life balance is heading in the wrong direction. Electronic devices and mobile technology have made it very hard to turn work off. E-mails, texts, action items, and reports come flowing in via smart phones, laptops, and tablets all hours of the day and night, and on weekends. People are exhausted, unable to recharge their batteries and enjoy time with their families. That builds up to resentment.
- Negative employer-employee relationships. Negative relationships can range from micro-managing, taking credit for subordinate’s work, under-appreciation, being difficult, and more. Bosses come in all shapes and sizes. Just because someone is a manager doesn’t instantly make him or her a great boss or leader.
- Unclear career path and next steps. Employees don’t see how they can grow their skills/experiences and advance. Training and development leading directly to advancement is not visible or accessible by many.
There are many more reasons and we can spend a lot of time debating what companies need to do differently. However, this article is focused on YOU, the employee.
After all, it’s your career and livelihood, right? It’s not easy to just get out of the situation you are in. I’ve been where you are. Here are four simple – though not necessarily easy – steps to follow:
Step 1: If you find yourself disengaged at work or even hating your job, you need to take the time to stop and think about why. Is it the money? Is it the people? Is it the work or the hours?
Step 2: Decide if you are going to do something about it. Or not. But make that decision. If your answer is, “Nah, I’ll stay here,” then stop whining. If your answer is, “Yes, I want to build choices while working here,” then build a plan and execute on it! Stop the excuses like you don’t have time or you don’t know how. There are plenty of resources to help you.
Step 3: Set a goal. Articulate what it is you will look for, being very clear and specific; identify the function, industry, company type, location, salary minimum, and much more.
Step 4: Put a plan in motion. Period. Do it without excuses or mistakes. Carve out the time in your non-work-hours calendar, make it a project, and run it with disciplined excellence.
Nobody owns this other than you! We look forward to your thoughts, so write us here!