The Job Experience, IT Plumbing: Year #5, Part 1

The Grass is Brown Everywhere


I think I see a blade of green in there!

Now that I’d decided to move back to Massachusetts, the next question was, what kind of employment would I target?

If you’ve read Year 4, you know I’ve ruled out going back to school or seriously searching for jobs in other industries. I’d come to believe that most jobs suck.  My conclusion pre-dated readily-available science-backed research, findable via googling, which states that nearly everyone is unhappy at work.   But speaking of more recent findings, currently my favorite study is this one by Forbes showing:

  1. Unhappy workers outnumber everyone else by a factor of 2:1
  2. Only 7% of the world’s workers are happy.  This means in that 2:1 ratio above, the “1” does not represent happy people.  It also includes people who are pretty meh on the whole thing.
  3. 24% of workers are actively miserable, that is to say, they undermine the work of others.  Miserable = worse than unhappy.
  4. The rest of them are merely disengaged, which means that they show up to do an average job at best and go home.

The numbers are somewhat better for industrialized countries.  Another Forbes study shows 19% of workers in the US and Canada are so-called “Satisfied” with their jobs. This doesn’t even mean they’re thrilled to be going to work every day.  They’re just pretty OK with their jobs.  You know, some ups, some downs, it’s generally humdrum and fine. From the article:

Another 16% said they were “somewhat satisfied.” But the rest, nearly two-thirds of respondents, said they were not happy at work. Twenty-one percent said they were “somewhat unsatisfied” and 44% said they were “unsatisfied.”

So we’re talking 4/5 people are something less than satisfied with their jobs.

These figures are so overwhelming that I have to conclude that my coworkers who tell me that they’re perfectly happy working for SoftwareCompany when I bump into them around the office are lying, or at the very least stretching the truth.  I get it — I do the same thing, because I want to be well perceived — nobody likes a bad apple.

But it’s all a front — internally, people want to be anywhere but work.  Again, they just won’t tell you to your face.

What I find of particular interest is that the same websites that tell you that 80%+ of workers are unhappy also suggest the solution.

They say things like “If you know what’s expected of you, and you feel empowered to reach it, plus you have a great manager and co-workers, then it’s far more likely you’ll be happy.”

I don’t agree with this analysis.  They’re looking at specific features associated with office jobs rather than the general framework of employment.  They’re saying something along the lines of : “Oh, you probably don’t like Microsoft Office because of Mr. Clippy — just try LibreOffice and you’ll be much happier.”

If you don’t like word processors, switching from one to another isn’t going to suddenly make things all better.

Glad you're here to help me with my blogging, Mr. Clippy!

Glad you’re here to help me with my blogging, Mr. Clippy! Such helpful comments!

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12 Responses to The Job Experience, IT Plumbing: Year #5, Part 1

  1. Jennifer says:

    I’m really loving this series. You have become one of my favorite bloggers up there with others on your blogroll. Keep up the great writing.

    • livingafi says:

      I really appreciate the comment, which is about as nice as they come. I don’t know what to say other than thanks(!) and I’ll keep the posts coming.

  2. Where can I get that Clippy? Seriously though, I think changing jobs and locations has helped me tremendously. Sometimes you just need to shake everything up and see how it falls out. Tough to do ‘on purpose’, but necessary. I look forward to seeing where this is going…

    • livingafi says:

      Hey EV, nice to see you stop by! I totally agree, mixing it up by going to a new employer has helped every time except once (in year 11 I picked a real dud), and many of my friends and peers have similar comments — that it’s like hitting the reset button on job stress, at least once you’ve made the initial transition. On that subject, FinancialCompany turns out to be, like most jobs, good and bad, but mostly just different.

  3. Dwayne Hoover says:

    If this series were a book, I would have read it in one sitting. Keep up the great work, and I’ll do my best to patiently wait 🙂

  4. Whitney says:

    Hah. I love the fake enthusiasm you added to your resume…and the fact that it worked! I really love this series. I can really connect with the emotional roller coaster you seem to have gone through, although I think my burn-out rate is much faster (a year and a half).

    • livingafi says:

      Right, cover-letters really are effective for many places to try to differentiate your application from others. Of course my actual suck-up language was a little more tactful but that doesn’t change the nature of it all, which is gushing over your new company. Like you, I’m burnt at FinancialCompany after 1.5 years but I gutted it out a little longer anyway. I must like suffering 😉

  5. This post is sooo good. Shared it with DW, because I think your analysis of corporate life-suck really nailed what she’s going through this year.

    I’d buy the e-book of this 😉

  6. Pingback: Confessions from a High-Paying Job | microBillionaire

  7. Reepekg says:

    I’m one of those rare unicorns that actually did love my job… and you’re notes are spot on:
    1) It was my first job so I loved learning about all the cool technology in the field
    2) It was a startup company making a new product, so I had a ton of flexibility and creative input that made it into the product
    3) I was just out of school with no family while living abroad, so putting in extra hours because I was enthusiastic didn’t create personal conflicts

    However, after 5 years, things change. The industry takes a downturn and budgets get slashed/projects cancelled. Your boss changes. You’re asked to do tasks you don’t like on top of the ones you do. Customers relentlessly attack like angry goblins. The list goes on.

    The state of loving your job is so fragile. Luckily I found FI or else I’d be the most depressed person on earth having seen how fun it can be only to then be stuck in a more typical situation.

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