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The most unhappy jobs in America.

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by Driven Organization

The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago produced a list of the 10 jobs with the lowest satisfaction in America. The jobs that made the shameful list are:

  1. Roofers.
  2. Servers.
  3. Laborers (no construction).
  4. Bartenders.
  5. Hand Packers and packagers.
  6. Freight, stock, and material handlers.
  7. Apparel Clothing sales persons.
  8. Cashiers.
  9. Food Preparers.
  10. Expediters. 
With a quick glance at the list, we can  easily identify some of the reasons why these jobs have made the list. One of the salient ones is the lack of autonomy. In most of these jobs, the workers obey either a predetermined set of instructions or a direct boss. Food preparers, as example, obey the instructions of cooks or food supervisors and do menial tasks over and over. There is little room for creativity. They also work at odd times and have no saying on what to do or how to do it. 

Another characteristic that these jobs have in common is the lack of meaningful purpose in the job. In most of these jobs, the impact of their job on the lives of others is difficult to see. It is not that the job is not important or not necessary for society; quite the contrary, but they have little contact with the people receiving the benefit. Packing food, stocking material, fixing the roof, to mention some, are not perceived as good ways of helping people to have a better life. They are just a job, perceived as with little significant impact.

These jobs have low pay, have little opportunity for workers to learn new things, and maybe even will not impact much the success of their company. 

But it doesn't have to be this way. Let's think about one example, cashiers, the number 2 in the list. Some cashiers have a great time. For example, at Whole Foods Market, cashiers (and other customer reps) are considered the face of the organization to the customer, therefore are quite important. They have the tools and decision making power to make customers satisfied, such as correcting an incorrect or unlabeled price. They work with like-minded people and have created an environment of camaraderie. They also are better paid than their average colleague. They are invited, actually expected, to find new ways of doing their job better, to innovate. This, and more, has made that job at Whole Foods market to be a considered a prestigious job.

There are many ways to increase job satisfaction in each of these jobs. For example, some of these jobs may be better if they are combined with others or if their scope is increased with additional responsibilities. This will make it more interesting and will bring more opportunities for workers to learn. The organization can also give workers more opportunity for them to see the impact they have on consumers, perhaps by letting them spend time in positions that have customer contact or by taking them on "customer tours." 
 The organization may also rethink what the reason for its existence is. Is their purpose to "make luxury clothing affordable," or to "make people feel better about themselves"? There are many purposes and the organization must come up with theirs; the only condition is that they must really mean it. When workers connect with the organization's purpose, the work motivates them at quite-a-deep level.

Not less important, the organization can give more free rein to workers on how they do their work. For example, apparel clothing sales personnel could have more saying on the way promotions and displays are designed at their store, how customers are approached, what is the uniform of the day, and whom to hire. To promote performance, the team can also par
take on the success of their store, as a team, the way it is done at Whole Foods market.

At the DrivenOrganization.com, we strongly believe that work, instead of being a necessary evil, can be a powerful tool to help us achieve happiness.

See here the report by the NORC at the university of Chicago.

Tags: happiness, jobs, Salary, job satisfaction
Published on 05 Sep. 2012

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