A recent Gallup poll shows some distressing numbers: 30 percent of U.S. workers say they are engaged with their jobs, 50 percent are “non-engaged,” and 20 percent say they are “actively disengaged.”
So, it seems, many employees don't like their jobs and have "checked out" of them while still taking home a paycheck.
Gallup recommends that managers work harder to engage with employees, but I think the onus is on employees. They should get connected or get out. And “get out” comes in many flavors.
Why do so many people hate their jobs? I have six theories:
- 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 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 pay 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 change — for the worse.
- Work-life balance is heading in the wrong direction. Electronic devices and mobile technology have made it hard to turn work off. Emails, 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 and unable to recharge and enjoy time with their families. That leads 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.
So who is to blame? We could spend time debating what companies need to do differently to engage their employees, but this is your career and your livelihood, right? So let's focus on what YOU can do to change your situation. I've been there, so I know it's not easy, but 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 it! Excuses such as, "I don't have time" or "I don't know how" don't cut it. 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!
© 2013 American City Business Journals, Inc.