Unhappy and Young at Work

Almost half of all US workers (45 percent) say they are unhappy with their jobs according to new report by the Conference Board that was released today – the lowest number in the 22 years since studying the topic.

For comparison in 1986 61 percent said there were happy in their jobs. Yikes. That is a lot of people walking around unhappy and we learned from Brain Rules and This Emotional Life – you have one brain you take with you everywhere and if almost half of all US workers are unhappy at work – I can only guess how that might carry over at home and school.

Something in the study jumped out at me – workers under 25 have the highest level of dissatisfaction. I wonder if this has always been the case throughout the years as this age group is dealing with the end of a collage party environment and the reality of the real world. Or is this a bigger generational shift that the over stimulated, tech savvy children of over protective parents are cut from a different cloth and might always struggle to adapt to rules and structure inherent in the current corporate America landscape.

Another report on this topic called The Reflexive Generation – Young Professionals Perspectives on Work, Career and Gender talks about how this new generation is constantly reflecting on the relationship between self, work and life with work being characterized by self management and the need for instant gratification and feedback. (Something that might explain the dissatisfaction numbers above – as the current “work world” is not set up to employees instants needs for gratification and the majority of roles for young people I wouldn’t exactly say lend to self managing.)

One can be optimistic that demands of the younger generation at work will help shape a better world of work for everyone. My last thought about the study is what are the other 55 percent doing differently that make them happy at work?


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