Before I talk about how the world of work can change, I’ll say why I think the world of work needs to change. Wikipedia defines the world of work as, “paid work and the pursuit of a career, in all its social aspects.” I’ll narrow this definition a little by focusing on the world of working for an employer, as opposed to being self-employed.
years spent working will likely be more than years spent with a partner or with our children
Why does working for an employer need to change? For many of us, working takes up so much of our time and vital energy. So much so, that years spent working will likely be more than years spent with a partner or with our children. As a teenager and young adult, much of our schooling is focused on making sure we will fit into the adult workplace. As adults, we train and re-train for work. We spend weeks and months, and more, looking for the best work or any work, the best employer or any employer. When we get a job, we spend at least half of our non-sleeping hours going to and from work and doing the work that the employer wants us to do. We often think—worry—about our jobs after work and on weekends. We worry that our children, partners and friends might not find good work. Finally, many of us become dissatisfied with the work that we worked so hard to get. Then what? Well, we decide to change jobs and the entire cycle starts all over again. Before we know it, we’re older, we haven’t done many things that were once so important to us, and maybe we’re not as healthy as we used to be.
dissatisfaction with work is killing us and it’s killing our economy
This cycle is the cycle of dissatisfaction with the world of work. Decades of research show that dissatisfaction with work is related to a range of physical and mental health issues, including suicide. Research also shows that the relationship between work performance and work satisfaction is much higher than previously thought. Dissatisfied workers are likely the poorest performers. This means that dissatisfaction with work is a business problem as well as a public health problem. And that’s why the world of work needs to change: dissatisfaction with work is killing us and killing our economy.
How can this depressing and all-too-common cycle be broken? In my last post I talked about how we can each take individual responsibility for the dysfunction, dissatisfaction and stress in our working lives. Now imagine an employer who accepted and acted on that same responsibility. Imagine an employer who really did take equal responsibility for creating a satisfying world of work. What would that employer look like?
Please check back here next week when I’ll describe them in Part II of this post.