Why Most People End Up Hating Their Job
in the good old days way before I was born, people were fairly self-sustaining. They planted their own food, made their own clothes, and had a wide range of daily tasks just to survive. While life in those days certainly was harder, I believe it also led people to develop greater confidence and happiness. In contrast, the modern workplace is all about compartmentalizing, specializing, and repeating.
People are Special
One of the things that sets humans aside from other animals is our unrelenting interest in novelty, and learning. Indeed, one of the best ways to keep our brains sharp is by challenging it with crossword puzzles, “brain games”, and constantly demanding new solutions from our brain.
All you need to do is look at a job listing on Monster.com in order to get an idea of just how far job specialization has gone – 5-7 years of this, 3-5 years of that, and these aren’t basic requirements; rather they are for usage of specialized theoretical models and specialized software. No wonder every employer I speak with complains about how hard it is to fill positions, they are looking for something too specific, and too specialized.
End of the Renaissance Period
Granted, there are still some jobs up at the top which let you still be a Renaissance Man, but the majority of workers today do the same thing over and over each day at work, and work on such a small part of a project that they barely feel ownership over it. As kids we were told that the most important thing was teamwork – to just “do your part” to make the team successful. But at what cost? Shouldn’t you learn how to do everything – after all, the team isn’t always there – sometimes you need to be able to count on yourself.
Imagine if everything else in our life were so compartmentalized. Imagine, if you couldn’t bake a cake without first hiring a “dough specialist” to prepare the dough, and an “oven expert” to test for optimal temperature. Wouldn’t that take out half the fun of making the cake in the first place (and make it absolutely ridiculous)?
When we look at the stats, they seem to agree with my opinions:
- Only 1 in 5 workers around the world are feeling “engaged” in their workplace, according to a recent study.
- 65% of employees polled by Salary.com were hoping to find a new job within 3 months.
- The average American will go through 10 jobs between the ages of 18 and 38. Just 30 years ago, an employer would assume that American had something seriously wrong with him to be job hopping so much. Besides that, any employer reading this knows just how expensive (with regards to both time and money) to rehire and retrain new workers. Certainly, there is value in avoiding this trend.
Sure, there are many reasons for someone changing jobs, but an important influence in making that decision has to do with the worker just feeling the need for change, that is, for novelty – something to stimulate his brain.
The takeaway is, if you want to keep your workers for a long time, make sure you aren’t confining their brains to too much repetition – it’s only a matter of time before their human need for novelty will take over…