Working for money now isn’t as fulfilling as it once was

Making money now is coming with a hefty dose of dissatisfaction. New surveys are showing that job satisfaction hit an all-time low last year. According to the Conference Board, only about 45 percent of employees in the country are content with their current jobs. The recession is mostly to blame for the negative feelings toward employers. Millions of workers were laid off during the economic downturn and existing employees had to pick up the slack, with no extra bonus or pay raise.

Conference Board survey is telling

Job satisfaction has been on a decline since 1987, which is when the Conference Board first began keeping track. Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center, (see said, “What we’ve seen over the last 22 years is that irrespective of whether the economy is boom or bust, the overall level of satisfaction expressed by the U.S. workers has been steadily declining across every single aspect of the job.” Those aspects include job responsibilities, benefits, security, promotions, bonuses, communication, recognition, wages and potential for growth.

The reason for a decline in job satisfaction

One of the main reasons why workers are no longer satisfied with their jobs is that people feel they can’t get ahead. Franco said, “Household incomes, adjusted for inflation, have stagnated since 2000. Meanwhile, out-of-pocket costs for health insurance have risen sharply.” The added strain of health care has put pressure on workers to expect more from their employers in terms of pay and benefits, neither of which are flourishing. Some people are opting for better-paid but less-rewarding jobs to keep up with the cost of living.

Productivity is declining also

The problem with making money now and discontentment on the job is productivity declines. Some experts are finding that with dissatisfaction comes a lack of commitment to the business’ goals. Adam Grant, management professor at University of Pennsylvania, said, “You have more and more workers doing fragmented tasks, and we know that in order to experience work as meaningful, you need to see end results. … The rise in globalization and outsourcing is making it difficult for that investment in the outcome to be nurtured.”

Another reason for the decline in productivity is the changing face of businesses today. Grant added, “As organizations become faster and flatter hierarchically, it becomes more necessary to depend on employees for generating new ideas. Although it’s nice in terms of giving them autonomy and the ability to contribute in new ways, it makes it harder to specify the job description. It can be quite stressful not knowing what your core responsibilities are or what supervisors are expecting of you.”

The future of the workplace

Working for money now is not as satisfying as it once was. The changes in the workplace that contributed to the change in emotion are both internal and external. Externally, the recession caused many employers to have to make difficult decisions that adversely affected existing employees. Internally, the workplace is changing and a new model is coming into play that isn’t necessarily conducive to job satisfaction, either. Over time, things will modify themselves, but whether or not job satisfaction returns has yet to be seen.

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