Unhappy with your job? You're not alone.

By glblguy

Me on that TRS-80 color computer at age 13

I’ve been programming and working on computers since I was 12 years old. I saw my first computer (a TRS-80 Model III) at a neighbor’s home and immediately found it one of the most fascinating things I had ever seen. So fun in fact, while my mother shopped in our local mall, I would spend my time playing on the computers in the Radio Shack located in the mall. I wanted one of my own and asked my father if I could have one. At the time, computers were really expensive for what you got. My Dad said that if I continued to show interest for a few months, he would get me one.

I proceeded to read every computer book and magazine I could get my hands on. A few months later, I proudly came home with a brand new TRS-80 Color Computer. I remember pulling it out of the box, setting it up and powering it on for the first time. I remember that evening like it was yesterday. Little did my father know the impact that little TRS-80 would have on my life.

I graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and started my very first corporate job as a software developer. I’ve been in the IT industry now for 15 years and now manage a team of 6 really sharp software developers.

The first few years of my career were amazing. I couldn’t wait to go to work the next day and sometimes even had a hard time going home as I loved what I was doing. I still do today, but the passion has subsided somewhat. I don’t program much, at least not at work, and spend far more time managing other developers now. Sometimes the job is great, others days terrible. Overall, I’m happy but to be honest, I miss developing software. I miss putting together tons of random control statements together to make incredible software. Much like I enjoy putting together random words to make articles here on Gather Little by Little.

So where am I going with all of this? Well, I was recently reading an article in a some magazine at my doctor’s office that talked about how unhappy people are with their jobs. The article made me reflect back on my own career and on where I am right now, and ask that tough question: Am I happy? To be honest, I’m not, but I’m not unhappy either. What I have learned is I love blogging. I love writing, learning, and I would love to be able to set my own schedule and frankly to work for myself.

Reasons employees are unhappy with their jobs

Recent studies have shown that 6 out of 10 works are unhappy with their current jobs. Other studies show that only 4 out of 10 works felt they were in good jobs. Good jobs being ones that were interesting, exciting but not overly stressful.

Salary.com did a survey that asked a sampling of employees, what kinds of things make them want to leave their current job and really sheds some insight into why people are unhappy at work:

Inadequate Compensation

Percent Responding: 57.2%

Coming as no surprise, Salary.com’s survey results showed that inadequate compensation is by far the number one reason that employees aren’t happy with their jobs and want to leave. If you feel you’re receiving an inadequate salary, do a little research on what your salary should be. Make a list of considerable contributions you’ve made and the positive financial impact they’ve had to the company. Take this information to your manager and and ask for a raise.

The worst thing that could happen is they say no. If that’s the case, and you strongly feel you made a legitimate case, than maybe it’s time to look for another job opportunity.

Inadequate Opportunities for Career Advancement

Percent Responding: 37.3%

In many companies, including mine, the higher up you move, the harder it is to move up, as more senior positions are scarce. I was a bit surprised at the high percentage on this item. As a manager, I don’t find many employees are really all that interested in advancing. Sure they want higher salaries, but not higher level positions or more responsibility.

Insufficient Recognition or Appreciation

Percent Responding: 34.2%

This one didn’t surprise me at all. Recognition is a key tool in helping employees feel they are making a positive contribution and making them feel good about what they do. It would be difficult to be happy with a job where you don’t feel appreciated.

One reason that insufficient recognition may be an issue is that your manager doesn’t know that recognition is important to you or maybe even how you specifically like to be recognized. Have a conversation with your manager, and let them know recognition and appreciation is important to you and how you like to be recognized.

As an example, I’m not personally fond of public recognition.


Percent Responding: 20.1%

This is my biggest problem. I have tons of work, but most of the time I don’t enjoy doing it. Why? Because it just doesn’t excite me. Another facate of this are employees that just plain old not having enough to do.

If you are bored, spend some time thinking about what you could do to make your job and maybe even your teams environment better or more efficient and do something about it. Another option would be to talk with your manager and tell them you’re bored and need more to do. There is usually lots of work to do, finding it sometimes is the trick.

Inadequate Benefits

Percent Responding: 16.9%

One of the major recent trends in companies over the past few years has been increasing the cost of benefits to employees. This is due to rising healthcare costs to employers cutting back on their contribution to the cost, thus increasing the employees cost.

Rising healthcare costs are particularly effecting small businesses who are paying more and more each year for basic medical insurance for their employees. As a result, these soaring healthcare costs are forcing many small businesses to lower employee take-home pay.

Inadequate Opportunities for Professional Development

Percent Responding: 15.3%

15.3% of unhappy employees feel as if they can grow further in their professional development at their company. Professional development opportunities and growth play a critical role in how happy employees are.

If professional development is important to you, find some classes either within the company or outside the company you would be interested in taking and make a case to your manager. Focus on how the training will help you to do your job better.

Insufficient Job Security

Percent Responding: 11.8%

In the field of IT, this is a big one these days. More and more jobs are being sent overseas to India and China where labor is far less expensive. Outsourcing aside, with the fear of a pending recession, many people are justifiably worried about their current job security, as in a recession one of the first visible impacts is a sharp increase in the unemployment rate.

The article from Salary.com said “Many of the 11.8% of respondents who cited insufficient job security as their top reason for leaving lack confidence in upper management’s ability to save the company.

Undesirable Impact on Health or Stress Level

Percent Responding: 10.5%

I’m a little surprised this one ranked as low as it did. For me, this would be the number one reason. My job is highly stressful, and as we get challenged to do more for less this has become even more so.

Employees these days are working long hours in very stressful conditions. These two items combined are having an overall negative impact on employee health and stress levels.

Poor Relations with Management

Percent Responding: 10%

Managers often forgot this, but your employees are watching you. Your behavior has significant effect on how happy they are with their jobs. I mean, who wants to work for a jerk right? Employees who disliked their boss provided salary.com with some particularly entertaining feedback:

  • “Upper management has no spine, they are jellyfish.”
  • “My boss has a diagnosed mental condition, but doesn’t take his medication.”  <== My particular favorite
  • “My employer wants to disregard regulations and laws in order to meet company goals.”
  • “My direct employer is sexist, tyrannical, and engages in extreme favoritism, cronyism, and nepotism.”

Undesirable Commute

Percent Responding: 9%

Rising gas prices have become an effective pay cut for commuting employees. As a result many are starting to consider about leaving their job for something closer to home or for jobs that offer work from home opportunities.

Are you unhappy with your job? If so, why? Is it for one of the reasons above, or for a reason completely different? Share your thoughts and perspective and add a comment!

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