The majority of workers do not feel their work and life has meaning.

The majority of workers do not feel their work and life has meaning.

Memphis, T.N., March 9, 2010 – The majority of people are not thriving in the workplace according to the latest poll by Performancepoint, LLC.   In fact, 65% of those surveyed were not thriving. They do not feel like their work is meaningful and some of them do not feel their life is meaningful.  The last two years of economic turmoil has a great deal to do with the current malaise in which many people find themselves.  Many who answered the poll elaborated on why they answered in the manner that they did. 

“ I have been unemployed for 11 months and I am worthless!”

“As a business development manager, I am finding the current economy and the impact it has had on corporate spending to be impacting the fulfillment I have through my job. How can sales people, who are judged by the deal, learn to be satisfied with the process it takes to get to the win – especially when the wins are few and far between?”

“I said “sort of” because the economy has sort of “curbed” my pioneering spirit. Although I feel more purposeful treading new ground, I simply can’t afford to make mistakes right now.”

“I am in a professional rut.”

“I said ‘no’…relative to the 90’s, I am making less than half what I averaged for that decade. I have great energy, tremendous desire to learn and apply that knowledge, but the opportunities seem to be so limited and the constraints so abundant. I have hope for better days to come. Checking the unemployment stats I am not alone.”

The stress and anxiety workers feel is significant.   Tied to this stress is the impact on our organizations, our relationships, and at home.  People who are not thriving are struggling.  People under this type of pressure tend to:

  • Sleep poorly
  • Have higher blood pressure
  • Suffer from depression

Even if we do not look at the significant risk factors and only look at the everyday work challenges these individuals face, we find that these same individuals:

  • See job responsibilities and assignments as tasks to get done with less regard for the impact
  • Strive for the path of least resistance versus working toward maximum results
  • Exhibit self oriented behavior versus an interest in their customers and team Procrastinate

These behaviors reduce creativity and collaboration in the workplace–a significant price to pay personally and professionally.  While current circumstances may concern some, other results from the poll were even more striking.    When it comes to what position you occupy in a company where you sit matters:

  • Only 18% of the C-level population said they were fulfilled
  • 22% of Management felt they were thriving
  • 35% of Associates  responded as thriving

The reason executives and managers may be less fulfilled than the rest of the work population could be because they feel responsible and may be struggling with how to improve the lot of their associates.  The executives and managers have a great deal of weight on their shoulders. 

Additional survey findings include:

  • Enterprise (multi-national) organizations had the largest amount of employees that felt they were thriving at 50%.
  • Large businesses (national firms) had the largest number of associates not thriving at 46%. Medium and small firms had the smallest number of employees not thriving at 11% and 15% respectively; however they had the largest “sort of” groups at 67% and 63% respectively
  • Administrative and support were unanimously not thriving at 100%
  • Consulting was the industry with the most thriving population at 50%
  • 31% of females were thriving
  • 38% of males were thriving
  • Most thriving age group was 25-34 year olds
  • Least thriving age group was  55 and over

 Regardless of how the numbers were broken down one thing is clear…satisfaction is at an all time low.  Individuals are struggling personally and professionally through a difficult period of time including executives.  The good news…there is a great deal of room for improvement.

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3 thoughts on “The majority of workers do not feel their work and life has meaning.

  1. Brilliant summary of the research. People need to understand why their actions/efforts are important and how they contribute to the success of the company. For example, I’m not surprised 100% of administrators/support staff say they are not thriving — not because these people/their work are unimportant to the success of the company, but because they are so often never told how they contribute. This is why I so strongly advocate personal recognition that focuses on giving meaning and purpose. Not just: “thanks, great job” but “Thanks, Mary, for your help on the XYZ project. Your attention to detail and diligence in getting your portion done ahead of deadline helped the team exceed the client’s expectations. In this case, our success on this project has gone a long way towards meeting our company goal of growing revenues by X%.” Specific, meaningful and purposeful — and very powerful, indeed. More on the concept here:

  2. Those at the top get golden parachutes, incredible perks, and magnificent monetary compensation that literally dwarfs that of the average mid or entry level employee by triple digit multiples. Even worse, the mid or entry level employee is usually the one to bear the brunt of layoffs or extra work when the executives make mistakes that affect profitability…or in some cases even when the company increases profitability.

    Therefore, is it any wonder that the average worker feels his/her job has no real meaning or value? After all, what is one to believe when his salary is 4% or 5% that of the CEO? This disparity veritably screams (non-verbally) “You and your work are worthless by comparison” to mid and entry level workers at the same time the company is telling them verbally how much they’re valued.

    I think it goes without saying that the effect this has on performance and morale is predictable. Even worse, I would argue that it has meant that over time, many working class Americans (on the whole) are increasingly unable to afford the goods and services produced by their employers.

    I don’t have a problem with upper management making more money than line staff. After all, they deserve to be rewarded for their education, experience, and the value they’re able to add. However, I think things have gotten way out of kilter with regard to the value added by upper management compared to the average worker.

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