The Trouble with Work
- Feb 22, 2008
- "It's just another manic Monday."
- —The Bangles1
You dread, dislike, or even hate your job, but you are going anyway. What else can you do?
You could take drugs. Prescription anti-depressants are on the rise,2 and disgruntled employees are surprisingly forthright in claims that they need the pills to make it through the week. And then there are other drugs, obtained without a prescription, and less likely to be mentioned.
You could "get a spouse who complains a lot and have a few kids." This suggestion comes from a Dilbert character who suggests making work better by turning it into the lesser of two evils.3 The same approach might work equally well using inconsiderate roommates or a leaky roof in a rainy climate. No matter how bad work is, just make home even worse.
Suicide, of course, is not the answer. Yet some studies have suggested that the highest suicide rate occurs on Monday.4 The more you hear how people feel about their jobs, the easier this surprising statistic becomes to believe.
Is that it? Drugs, suffering, and death seem like poor alternatives. There must be a better way that is not illegal, expensive, or quite so drastic.
Do We All Hate Our Jobs?
Picture a room filled with ten of your coworkers. Odds are that seven of them don't like what they do.5 Do you know which ones? Are you one of them?
It gets worse. Research suggests that one of those seven coworkers might be actively working at cross purposes to undermine your company. This means that if you are trying to be productive, he or she is working against you, too!6
Why bother? We like to believe that it's all about the money. We see people endure dread, dissatisfaction, and misery in the name of the paycheck, but Herzberg and Maslow agree that once our monetary needs are met, it ceases to motivate us.7 And even if we do need the money, it's no substitute for engaging, enjoyable, productive work. Money can't buy back lost time.