Why do so many U.S. workers hate their jobs?

Gallup Poll Engaged Disengaged Unhappy Workers

Double click to enlarge.

With workloads increasing, wages and salaries stagnant or worse and the gap between workers and management ever-increasing, it shouldn’t be surprising that a recent Gallup poll finds 70 percent of American workers are unhappy in their jobs.

What is surprising, at least to me, is the reason—not wages, hours or benefits, but the way they are treated by their bosses.  Also surprising is how discontent is spread up and down the economic scale.  Corporate managers and professionals are almost as unhappy as low-level factory and service workers.

Gallup estimated that out of the 100 million Americans with full time jobs, about 30 million are “engaged,” meaning that they are actively trying to do a good job; 50 million are “not engaged,” meaning they are doing what they are asked to do and nothing more; and 20 million are “disengaged,” meaning they are actively hostile and costing their employers money.

As Timothy Egan wrote in the New York Times, it doesn’t cost much to praise good work, provide opportunities for learning and growth and be open to suggestions.  Companies such as Costco that value their employees frequently outperform companies such as Walmart that don’t.  So why don’t they?

I think part of the explanation lies in what a couple of management scholars called “stupidity management.”   The top management in such an organization sets a narrow, usually quantifiable, goal and insists that it not be questioned.  A low-level manager in such an organization is required to push people to achieve unreasonable goals.  Being in that kind of position certainly would not improve my disposition.

Click on Why most Americans hate their jobs (or are just ‘checked out’) for details about Gallup’s findings in The Week.

Click on Checking Out for comment by Timothy Egan in the New York Times.

Click on ON MOTIVATION for comment on Gin and Tacos.

Click on Costco: doing well by acting decently for the benefit of being a good boss.

Click on The stupidity theory of organizations for a possible explanation of why more companies aren’t like Costco.

Hat tips to Eschaton and Balloon Juice.

Finally, a quote by Bertrand Russell:

It may be laid down as a general rule to which there are few exceptions that, when people are mistaken as to what is to their own interest, the course that they believe to be wise is more harmful to others than the course that really is wise.
        ==Skeptical Essays, 1928

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