Periodically, another survey finds that many, if not the majority of people — at all levels of their work and career — are unhappy, dissatisfied or experience emotional conflicts and stress. The latest was conducted by Right Management. In my view, what’s consistently overlooked is the role that a negative, unhealthy, non-transparent management culture and leadership has upon people. The best companies are aware of that; some are making efforts to build more positive, learning-oriented, open cultures. These are of hope, especially among the younger leaders who are more in tune with these issues.
Right Management, a subsidiary of the giant staffing firm ManpowerGroup, just released a new snapshot survey that underlines the dissatisfaction among American workers. At a time of high unemployment, lackluster job growth and major uncertainty in world financial markets, many employees feel stuck in their jobs, unable to consider a career move even if they’re unhappy.
Right Management ran the online survey between April 16 and May 15, and culled responses from 411 workers in the U.S. and Canada. Only 19% said they were satisfied with their jobs. Another 16% said they were “somewhat satisfied.” But the rest, nearly two-thirds of respondents, said they were not happy at work. Twenty-one percent said they were “somewhat satisfied” and 44% said they were “unsatisfied.” Saffing firms and consultants release employee engagement and loyalty surveys periodically. The news on this front has not been good for some time. In November, I reported on a more in-depth study, a Mercer survey of 30,000 workers worldwide, which showed that between 28% and 56% of employees in 17 spots around the globe wanted to leave their jobs. In the U.S., 32% said they wanted to find new work. That’s about half of the 65% of respondents to the Right Management survey, who said they were either somewhat or totally unsatisfied.
What’s the message to employers? A lot of unhappy workers are staying put. But if employers want an upbeat, engaged workforce, they need to find ways to help employees feel challenged and rewarded by work. A couple of suggestions: offer more training and education. Also it pays to try to find a path up the ladder for current employees, and to help them know it’s available to them.