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“Give me your tired, your poor….” This part of Emma Lazarus’ famous poem that is engraved in a tablet at the Statue of Liberty national monument might be a good description of how Americans feel about their employment situation.

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February 24, 2010

“Give me your tired, your poor….” This part of Emma Lazarus’ famous poem that is engraved in a tablet at the Statue of Liberty national monument might be a good description of how Americans feel about their employment situation. And I’m not talking about the one in 10 Americans who are currently unemployed.
   
The Conference Board’s report “I Can’t Get No...Job Satisfaction, That Is: America’s Unhappy Workers” indicates that only 45 percent of the U.S. workers surveyed said they are satisfied with their jobs. That is down from 61.1 percent in 1987 when the first survey was conducted.
   
Fewer Americans, regardless of age or income group, are satisfied with all aspects of their employment situation.  Those in the youngest age group, under age 25 years, are least satisfied having expressed the highest level of dissatisfaction ever recorded by the survey.
   
Linda Barrington, managing director Human Capital at the Conference Board, said the survey’s numbers don’t bode well especially because of the multi-generational makeup of the current labor force.
   
“The newest federal statistics show that baby boomers will compose a quarter of the U.S. workforce in eight years, and since 1987 we’ve watched them increasingly lose faith in the workplace,” Barrington said.
   
She said 20 years ago, some 60 percent of the boomers were satisfied with their jobs. Today the number has dropped to 46 percent.
   
“The growing dissatisfaction across and between generations is important to address because it can directly impact the quality of multi-generational knowledge transfer which is increasingly critical to effective workplace functioning,” she said.

Keeping workers engaged
Economists are sending a mixed bag when it comes to the job market. They are hoping that wholesale sales, which increased for the eighth consecutive month in December, will continue causing companies to restock resulting in increased orders and the potential for more hiring.
   
John Gibbons, Conference Board program director of employee engagement research and services, said American workers need challenging and meaningful work to keep them engaged. Twenty-two percent of the job survey respondents indicated they don’t expect to be in the same job in a year.
   
“Widespread job dissatisfaction negatively affects employee behavior and retention, which can impact enterprise-level success,” Gibbons said.
   
Heading into the spring production and selling season, it might be a good time to get an accurate reading on employee morale. The life of your company just might depend on it.