Some 70% of the workforce in the United States hates their job, according to recent polls by the Gallop organization. That’s more than two out of three people on this morning’s crowded subway or in that endless sea of cars that jams the freeways into our business centers across the country. These tens of millions of people are actively unhappy, finding little to no value in what they do for a living. They don’t fulfill the universal desire that all humans share: the need to find meaning in their work.
And how about this bit of depressing news: these surveys have been conducted for over 20 years and the trends are the same, year over year and on and on!! And why isn’t this sad trend the subject of national headlines? Is it because it is not newsworthy? Is this just “the way it is”?
It doesn’t have to be this way. We, as a nation, can do better.
While it’s easy to want to blame these workers for their own unhappiness, the problem doesn’t lie with just them. They likely serve bosses who don’t care whether they’re satisfied or passionate. Those bosses serve higher leadership who are leaders in name only. They assume their job title and scope of authority, by definition, will be sufficient to inspire the following of their organizations. They look out for their own interests, paychecks and perks. They focus on moving themselves forward instead of moving their whole organization forward.
Imagine what our nation could do if these sad numbers were flipped around, if 70% of our workforce liked their job? Imagine how much better of a world we could create? Imagine what we could do if we fully tapped into the human resources of intellect, spirit and creativity? We could discover new life-saving drugs, cultivate innovative agricultural crops, invent more clean energy technology, and tackle humanitarian crises like climate change.
The truth is, we need more leaders who understand how valuable liking your job is! We need more leaders who challenge themselves to take ownership of these sad percentages. We need more leaders who acknowledge that they have a role in whether or not their organizations feel connected to something that gives them meaning.
These leaders, who take some responsibility for the connectedness of their people, help foster a symbiotic cycle, where employees who get opportunities to nurture their on-the-job enthusiasm give their leaders and organizations so much more in return. These leaders attain personal fulfillment from seeing their team succeed. Importantly, they also achieve bottom-line material gains, like increased revenues and higher profits.
So what distinguishes the leader who is able to foster an engaged workforce from those who unwittingly contribute to the disengagement of some 70% of Americans? Which of these two camps do you think you fall into?
In Fusion Leadership: Unleashing the Movement of Monday Morning Enthusiasts, I, together with eight nationally recognized CEOs, share our experiences as we sought to address this fundamental question. During our collective journey we discovered how everyday leaders could change the bleak reality of an unhappy workforce.
Let’s flip the percentages and turn 70% of our national workforce into happy, engaged employees.