Hate is a strong word. It’s the worst-case scenario. Perhaps you simply aren’t motivated to wake up each morning anticipating another great day at the office, plant, or next assignment. There is no joy in your heart or spring in your step as you leave the breakfast table and prepare for work. You might not like the idea of another day working for a bad boss or with unpleasant coworkers. Most people don’t quit jobs because of the work, but because of the people they work with or report to.
But you also could feel locked into a job that seems unrewarding, boring, repetitive, and lacking purpose. You may be locked in because you see no opportunity for advancement or any way you can change the culture of the organization – which may conflict with your own principles or ethics. And yet you cannot afford to quit because there is no other job available elsewhere. At least not one that can match the money you make. And you may have a family to support, debts to repay, or other obligations.
In this latter scenario, you feel the lack of control, which in turn causes stress in your life – not only at work – but in your personal life as well. In those cases, you can honestly say, “I hate my job.”
There are books on how to get along with difficult people, and other books urging you to do the best job you can under the circumstances to raise your self-esteem, earn promotions, gain friends and supporters, and so on. And it’s all good advice no doubt. But to really gain control, shed the stress, and get a job you can really enjoy, you must change your mindset. That’s something you already have the power to do. You have the power to change yourself.
You may have heard of or have knowledge of a concept called reframing. It involves changing your point of view on something. The facts remain the same, but you choose to see them in a different light. You see that you are doing what you are currently doing for a good reason. You have a plan that involves this current job, regardless of how unsatisfying or demeaning it may appear on the surface. You have gained control, and added meaning to the situation and stress dissolves as your plan progresses.
Reframing can take many forms and be applied to many situations. I am currently writing an e-book on how reframing is used in other areas including marketing, education, health and wellness, personal life, and so on. In this series of blog articles, however, I’m applying reframing to the job that you currently hate, dislike, or grudgingly tolerate. I think it may help you.
Do you dread going to work every day? Are you experiencing stress? Do the requirements of the job affect your personal life and family in a negative way? Are you grossly underpaid for what you do? Do you think you are in a dead-end job, with no light at the end of the tunnel? Do you have an unethical and dislikeable boss? (One Gallup study showed that 50 percent of people who leave their jobs, do so because of their bosses.) Some people say their job is bad because it is physically demanding or exhausting, involving long hours in the hot sun or a stuffy office. Others complain that it doesn’t pay well, or requires too long a commute, or too long sitting at a desk. Ad infinitum.
When you hate your job, it can sap your energy, happiness, time, relationships, and physical and mental health. You should be able to take at least as much from a job as you contribute to it – over and above salary for hours worked. For example, personal growth, experience, a sense of achievement, challenge, and opportunity for advancement. To remain anonymous, unrecognized, unappreciated, and without feedback on your performance is unacceptable.
According to Patrick Lencioni, author of the book, The Truth About Employee Engagement, more people are miserable in their jobs than are fulfilled by them. And a global poll conducted in 2019 by Gallup has discovered that out of the world’s one billion full-time workers, only 15% of people are engaged at work. The managing editor of Scientific American Mind, in 2016, quoted a survey by the Conference Board that found only 48.3% of Americans are satisfied at work. This compares with 60% in the late 1980s to 1990s. One study found that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees, so, it’s not only the workers who lose when employees hate their jobs.
Digging further, I found in Janice Kaplan’s book, The Gratitude Diaries, that when people were asked in a survey how grateful they were for a variety of things, “Your current job” finished dead last. Only 39% expressed gratitude for their present employment.
Information on the impact of happiness on health continues to expand. MJ Ryan, in her book, The Happiness Makeover, states that the Journal of Neurology found that happy people are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. People who are happy are less likely to die prematurely, or even to develop colds. And Ryan also claims that people think more effectively when they are happy. But it doesn’t sound like people are that happy in the third of their adult lives that are spent on the job.
None of these statistics, however, reveal who is responsible for this dismal situation – top management or the workforce. The answer obviously is both. They both are also negatively impacted when anyone within the organization is unhappy on the job – managers and employees alike. Just as laughter, stress, positivity, and negativity are contagious, so is unhappiness. It only takes a few malcontents to stir the pot before there is gossiping and grumbling that could lead to slow-downs, sit-downs, or strikes.
Robert H Frank, in his book Luxury Fever, wrote that people who call themselves happy, among other things, are less likely to be absent from work, less likely to be involved in disputes at work, less likely to be self-focused, and more likely to respond to requests for help.
In part 2 of this series, I will suggest an alternative to quitting that may change the way you view your current job.