Thursday, September 29, 2011

Checkmate: The Endgame of The American Employee

When Fritz Aldrine and I wrote "Why Work Isn't Working Anymore" in 2001, I thought we'd seen the bottom of morale in the American workplace. Little did I recognize that the happiness and satisifaction of the American employee had a long way to drop.

And drop it has - like an anvil out a 10th story downtown window.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index registered 47.1 in August for the category titled "work satisfaction" -- the lowest it has been since the measurement was introduced. It means that fewer than half the employees surveyed last month answered "yes" to four questions: Are you satisfied with your job; are your natural aptitudes aligned with the job you are asked to do; does your supervisor treat you like a partner, and does he or she create an environment that is trusting and open?

Nope. Not here. Not in the American workplace.

Indeed, for most employees today there is only one place they can think of that is worse than where they are -- on the street. Everyone knows at least one or a dozen of the long-term unemployed and they know them well enough to not want to join them.

And, employers know that and most simply do not feel it necessary to engage in being nice, or encouraging managers to do so. Relationship development is no longer even discussed. For most employees, it is now "take it or leave it," although the best employers put it a little more gently.

So, employees remain unhappy, unfulfilled and afraid, not a recipe for long-term success. But, after all, many of these employees won't have to worry about the "long-term," because their work is killing them -- literally.

A study published this year titled, "Work-Based Predictors of Mortality: A 20-Year Follow-Up of Healthy Employees," found risk of mortality was significantly lower for those reporting high levels of peer social support -- i.e., the support of their co-workers.

"While higher death rates are clearly the most extreme evidence of workplace stress and job dissatisfaction, mental and physical ailments are also increasingly common, ranging from high blood pressure and heart disease to depression, ulcers and Alzheimer's. Employees faced with long hours, demanding bosses, unsupportive colleagues and unfulfilling work are typically advised to change supervisors, find another job, start their own company or consider other decisive moves. Today, because of the economy, these options are much less realistic." reports Knowledge @ Wharton.

Bottom line: For the average American employee, it is the proverbial rock and hard place. It is check and mate.


Post a Comment

<< Home