The Top 5 Reasons Employees Hate Their Jobs

The Top 5 Reasons Employees Hate Their Jobs

For every reason to like a job, there may be an equal and opposite reason not to like it. In fact, there may be more than one reason. This statement may be playing fast and loose with Newton’s law of motion, but current research indicates that more people than ever before are unhappy with work.

Recent surveys have shed light on just how disgruntled Americans are with their jobs, and it’s not pretty. The Conference Board, a market information company that also publishes the Consumer Confidence Index, reported in their February 2007 study that fewer than half of Americans said they liked their jobs. Meanwhile, an earlier CareerBuilder.com survey revealed that 4 out of 5 Americans were not working their dream jobs.

There are many documented reasons why those American dreams are falling by the wayside, but here are The Top 5 Reasons Employees Hate Their Jobs:

Out of the Loop

Being excluded from decision-making opportunities, especially ones that directly impact the employee, is a major gripe among workers. Employees, in general, want to contribute with ideas that improve and streamline the work process, but are often left out of the picture and dictated to by management. Employees are also interested in knowing about new products, new customers, how the company is doing and what the future holds. More importantly, employees want to know about anything that may adversely affect their livelihood, like expansion, business downturns and competition.

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“I think there is a misconception that employees have to get what they want to be happy,” said Howard J. Ross, founder of a Maryland-based consulting firm. “My experience has been that people know they can’t control everything about their work life, but they do want to feel like they can have some legitimate input in order to not feel powerless, de-motivated, and resentful.”

Playing Favorites

Just like parents, bosses tend to play favorites, and it’s not easy to be the employee who seems invisible while others have praise heaped upon them.

This is certainly an issue that irritates employees, but solutions are few and far between. The best advice for the employee is simply to keep a sense of perspective, or, if possible, a sense of humor about it. The adage about making the best of a bad situation may apply in this case, but it doesn’t do much to take the sting away.

“Employees hate favoritism,” said Barry L. Brown, president of a Florida-based consulting firm. “Opportunities for promotion, pay increases, choice job assignments, and bonuses are all common catalysts for the allegation of favoritism. Add poor supervision and poor communications to the mix and you have a recipe for some severe employee issues.”

Supervisors at all levels should take extra precautions to avoid the favoritism label.

What Am I Doing Here?

Job satisfaction is influenced by job expectations, and if an employee has no clue what those are, then there can be big trouble. Employees need a sense of purpose. Some employees are content with punching the clock day in and day out, but for most, not knowing how their job fits into the overall vision of the organization can be a real morale-killer.

“People are rarely inspired by a job for its own sake,” said Ross. “We are inspired by knowing how our job is contributing to building something bigger than ourselves. Employees who are told to ‘just do your job’ can be counted on for lackluster performance, at best.”

Bad to the Bone Boss

The relationship that an employee has with their direct supervisor is the single most important factor in employee retention. When the employee feels like they are not treated well, the whole job experience suffers.

It goes without saying that employees can’t stand working for a supervisor who does not know how to treat people. Abusive language, failure to set clear expectations, little or no feedback on performance, and taking credit for the hard work of others are some of the things that keep the evil boss reputation alive and well.

“Poor supervision is among the highest causes of turnover,” said Brown. “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave bad supervisors.”

Coworkers That Drive Us Crazy

Let’s face it, some people can simply get on our nerves, and if you’re working around that person eight hours a day, it can definitely take its toll. Maybe he douses himself in cheap cologne. Perhaps she’s known as “The Interrupter,” cutting off everyone to drone on about herself. Maybe it’s “The Loud Talker,” who has no idea that the volume dial on their voice is broken and that fellow employees aren’t interested in being unwilling victims as they describe every minor detail of their life.

It seems like some coworkers come with a bad attitude micro-chip already built in. No matter what the situation, they feel the world owes them something. Nothing is good enough for these people. If they received a $10,000 bonus out of the blue, they would complain that too much of it is taxed.

Organizations can minimize the unexpected impact of these five issues by conducting employee surveys like the ones offered by the Texas-based National Business Research Institute.

Ken West
Organizational Psychologist
National Business Research Institute
Plano, Texas

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