Over my illustrious career life, I have cut grass, tutored students, shoveled pig manure, written advertising copy, installed flooring, bartended (what literature major hasn’t?), delivered pizza, taught high school classes, sold shoes, gone door-to-door selling restaurant coupons, etc.
As diverse as this “training” has been, one thing has always been true: I hated it. Almost every single minute of every job. It sucked.
Here’s the good news: I was in the majority.
Some studies rank job dissatisfaction as high as 75%, and Gallup estimates the cost of this unhappy workforce at more than $350 billion in lost productivity.
Outside of the lost productivity, these people go home to children, spouses, partners, brothers, friends, fellow freeway drivers and the whole community with a downtrodden outlook.
These costs are quite alarming.
Business leaders bear a great deal of responsibility for this current state of job satisfaction. In fact, most people say that it is their direct manager that has the most influence over their feelings about work. Their manager’s attitude, opinion, outlook and feedback trump pay, health benefits, job perks, etc.
So what makes a job great, and how can we create a sense of satisfaction for our respective teams?
“A miserable job is not the same as a bad one. A bad job lies in the eye of the beholder,” says Lencioni. “One person’s dream job might be another person’s nightmare. But a miserable job is universal.”
Here is a brief synopsis of Lencioni’s 3 signs of a universally miserable job:
- Anonymity -People are people regardless of their position or authority. They should be treated as equals, and leaders need to learn about and appreciate their team on the level of personhood. They need to know that you genuinely care.
- Irrelevance -Why does my job matter? Everyone wants to know that. If they don’t know what effect their contribution has, then they can’t love their job.
- Immeasurement – Everyone on your team needs to be able to gauge their progress outside of your subjective, “atta-boy” comments. What ways can your team objectively analyze their progress?
Why should leaders care?
Because a miserable job is costly for everybody. Fulfilling employment gives people hope and purpose. This leads the way into better communities. So, really, it is nothing outside of our civic duty to provide places of nonmiserable employment.
Which signs is your team exhibiting? Since most people are unsatisfied with their work, make certain that the largest hurdle to their personal satisfaction is not you. Find ways to get to know your team. Help them understand that what they do matters and allow them to measure their own progress and improvement.
The first time I read this list, I thought, “Well, duh. Of course people need to feel like they matter, their job matters, and they need to know how to measure their progress.” But, 75% of employed folks aren’t happy. So my question for you is: Why aren’t most employers and managers making sure their team is nonmiserable?
Jeremy Nulik, Creative Energy Officer (CEO), St. Louis Small Business Monthly