Job Satisfaction

Soap on a Rope, by Bob Roberds

From Soap on a Rope by Bob Roberds.

On August 2, 2005 Slashdot posted an odd submission about an article in IT Managers Journal describing a study that showed that IT workers in the United Kingdom are dissatisfied with their jobs.

Well… duh.

Next issue: IT Managers learn that their employees prefer eating lunch to troubleshooting faulty routers.

The big surprise, according to the article, was that there was a disparity between what the employees thought about their jobs and what their jobs were actually like. Employees in IT felt taken for granted by their companies, felt they were discriminated against by age, felt the tasks their jobs demanded of them didn’t live up to what they were capable of doing. Meanwhile it turns out that people working in IT were generally paid better salaries, received more promotions and were given more raises than people in other parts of the company… and were were thought of very highly by other parts of the company. The problem, according to the study, was that IT workers were actually being treated quite well… they just didn’t know it.

Ultimately the study concluded… well, I can’t do it justice in my own words. Let me quote the relevant paragraph here:

Baldwin-Evans says that employers need to communicate more directly with their IT workers. “The fact that they don’t feel valued means there’s not enough communication actually telling them they are valued. It’s one thing to do it indirectly through training and promotion, but in this instance they have to say ‘you are valued — we value your skills, and this is a manifestation of how we value you.'”

I’m going to go out on a limb here. I didn’t spend a lot of money conducting a statistically valid study in order to assess the mores of the IT community, but — and I’m just stabbing in the dark here — by and large, regardless of the work you’re doing, people tend to hate their jobs.

I don’t know how to break it to any managers out there who have accidentally arrived at this site and are currently reading this article, but in all my years in the work force I have yet to meet anyone who was ecstatic at the prospect of getting up in the morning, marching into an office and being told what to do for 8-12 hours every day. It would seem a self-evident truth to me that any job, no matter how much it pays, how easy the hours, how friendly the environment, how prestigious the position, will cause a solid majority of the people who do it to bitch and moan about how thoroughly annoying, infuriating, frustrating, and insulting it is, and how abysmally stupid the people they have to deal with are, and how they’d like to pack it all in and get a job where people actually respect the work they do. That sort of comes part and parcel with the whole idea of giving up solid portion of your day over to someone else’s concerns.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working in a starched-white-shirt-corporate-america-hellhole or a cutting-edge, “worker-friendly” company that has no dress code and a honey of a policy when it comes to telecommuting. Job dissatisfaction is a natural byproduct of having a job. It’s one of those extra work benefits they don’t bother to tell you because they’re too busy trying to explain the latest revision of your health, dental and vision plan.

So what does this all mean? Now that this eye-opening study has been released to the world, what will come to pass as managers huddle in boardrooms in order to address the “job dissatisfaction issue?” My knee-jerk reaction is that they will start a 30-day wellness campaign using the motto “Think your job sucks? You’re WRONG!” The mascot of the wellness campaign will be a non-IP-infringing derivative of Buddy Christ. Employees will be sent to information seminars that explain to them that, in spite of what they actually think, their job is a wonderous, magical land filled to the rim with satisfaction, and if they only understood their scope and importance within the company they would abandon their bitterness and disillusionment and embrace the joy that is Working For The Man.

After which I fully expect job satisfaction to plummet to depths heretofore undelved.

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