Do You Find Satisfaction in Your Job?
“JOB SATISFACTION” is a theme that is being discussed more and more in industry. If you are satisfied with your job you have much for which to be thankful. Today increasing numbers of workers throughout the world find their jobs anything but satisfying. And this trend reaches all the way from the unskilled laborer to the executive, although it is most pronounced among those working on assembly lines.
So, if you fail to find satisfaction in your job, you are far from being alone. According to one official in the United States Labor Department, this matter of job dissatisfaction “is one of the most important issues of the day.” Why is this? Because lack of job satisfaction is pinching management where it hurts. It is affecting production, and what affects either the quantity or the quality of production affects profits. Job dissatisfaction is causing shoddy workmanship and dissension; it causes tardiness and often has racial overtones. In some plants it has resulted in not only apathy and indifference, but even rebellion to the point of sabotage, as in an instance where six finished autos were found to have their upholstery slashed.
But most symptomatic of job dissatisfaction, as well as most costly, is absenteeism. By absenteeism is meant the failure of employees to show up for work when they are supposed to, regardless of the reason—whether illness, feigned or real, bad weather, arguments with the boss, the morning-after effects of late night carousing, alcoholism, drug addiction, or a desire to go hunting or fishing. Today in many industries absenteeism averages 5 percent, which means that on any given day of the workweek five out of a hundred employees fail to show up. And on Mondays and Fridays, the beginning and ending of the workweek, the percentage in some plants is as high as 15 to 20 percent.
Absenteeism is most common among the young workers, from eighteen to twenty-five years of age. Women workers average 36-percent higher absenteeism than do men, and blue-collar workers, on an average, fail to show up for work 57-percent oftener than do white-collar workers. In recent years absenteeism has increased in various industries from 10 to 41 percent. As to the price of all this absenteeism to industry, it is reported that a rise of just 1 percent in absenteeism at a plant hiring 1,000 workers can increase costs $150,000 a year. A president of a small corporation stated that, because of absenteeism, his firm has 285 workers on the payroll whereas actually only 255 are needed.
Why the Lack of Job Satisfaction?
Why is job dissatisfaction so widespread and increasing? Is it due to insufficient wages? No, for not only do wages keep increasing year after year, but fringe benefits have gone away beyond even the fondest expectations of workers just a few years ago.
Those managing industry, by and large, apparently feel that such material rewards should be enough to satisfy their workers. As one corporation president put it: “We must receive the fair day’s work for which we pay the fair day’s wage.” And workers on assembly lines are being well paid, often receiving from $3.50 to $4.50 an hour. But are good wages and plenty of fringe benefits enough to give job satisfaction? They may have been for some workers in times past but evidently are not now, at least not for many workers.
Today the cry is heard throughout industry about the monotony, the boredom of assembly-line work and about the frustration due to the lack of opportunity for advancement. Especially young men take the attitude that they are not mere machines, but have feelings, desires and ambitions. Driving this point home was the strike that General Motors suffered at its Lordstown, Ohio, plant. It is said to be the world’s most modern and most productive auto-assembly plant, its lines being designed to turn out 101 autos an hour. Why did the men strike? Because of wages? No, they were being well paid. They struck because the jobs were too dull and the pressure seemed too great. Apparently the designers of that plant had largely overlooked the human element. So management had to learn that even the world’s most efficient assembly lines are productive only when men are willing to man them!
Management’s Share of the Blame
No question about it, the assembly-line conditions under which many employees work, together with the attitudes manifested by ‘management,’ have a great deal to do with the lack of job satisfaction. Blaming both factors for the “understanding gap” between management and the workers are a number of industrial psychologists who have made a study of the situation. Among other things, they stated:
“The biggest difficulty we have is making top management aware of the blue-collar problem—and, more important, getting them to do something about it.” “The amount of time corporate boards spend on making human decisions is infinitesimal. Recently, industry has been forced to think about these problems. But they are still regarded as secondary.” “There must be real commitment by top management to the idea that worker satisfaction is essential to increased productivity. Too often, I fear, we are more concerned about the machines than the men and women who operate them.”
That these observations are well taken is apparent from a report that appeared in the New York Times, February 5, 1973. Under the heading “Jobs Rotated to Fight Boredom,” it told of the satisfaction that sixty blue-collar workers at a pet-food plant were deriving from getting “a chance to do every major job in the plant.” But according to a recent study by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, only about 3,000 are involved in such experiments. There is more of this kind of experimenting being done in European countries. But, of course, this does not necessarily increase production. For example, at several European auto plants groups of workers together assemble an entire car, though their production does not begin to compare with that of leading United States auto producers. But is that necessarily bad? Would it not be fine if more people were genuinely concerned about the welfare of their fellowman?
The Workers’ Share of the Blame
However, not only has top management been dragging its heels in the matter of increasing job satisfaction but men in organized labor have often been hindering rather than expediting such improvements. How could that be? Instinctively they are suspicious of the motives of anything that management does. Then, too, union officials may be fearful for their jobs and power if relations between workers and management improve. It has happened repeatedly that, in plants where such innovations were made and the management has shown a genuine concern for its workers, the employees have rejected the efforts of union agents to organize them.
Not all the blame for the “blue-collar blues,” as job dissatisfaction is often called, rests with the management. There is also a steady decrease in what is termed the “work ethic.” As The Wall Street Journal put it: “In both the private and public sector, the work ethic—the belief in the dignity of honest toil, the feeling of accomplishment at having helped produce something worthwhile—clearly has fallen on hard times.” There is less and less appreciation of the Biblical principle that honest work is the obligation of everyone able to work. The Bible says: “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.” In fact, time and again the Bible censures the lazy ones, the sluggards, the indolent, the slothful ones, especially in the book of Proverbs. Typical is the well-known saying. “Go to the ant, you lazy one; see its ways and become wise.”—2 Thess. 3:10; Prov. 6:6.
Illustrating this lack of will to work is the motto that appears on the wall of a bar near a Fort Dearborn auto-assembly plant. It reads: “I Spend 40 Hours a Week Here—Am I Supposed to Work Too?” Thus also one worker, when asked about the nature of his new job, replied: “Listen, man, I would not think of working at a job that caused me to be tired when I came home at night!” Older, energetic workers are often heard complaining about the work attitudes of younger ones.
Yes, people are less and less inclined to work hard, especially if the work is uninteresting. The conditions that were foretold in the Bible—the increasing of lawlessness and the critical times hard to deal with—that are upon us, doubtless have something to do with it. (Matt. 24:12; 2 Tim. 3:1-5) Helping to bring about these conditions are two trends. On the one hand, there is less and less faith in God and so less and less feeling of being accountable to Him. And, on the other hand, economic conditions have greatly improved. Whether a person wants to work or not, he seems to be able to get unemployment insurance or welfare payments.
What You Can Do About Job Satisfaction
What can you do to find satisfaction with your work? First of all, realize that when you accept a job you have responsibilities to fulfill. It is not honest to do otherwise. Then, to the extent that you are able to do so, take pride in doing well the job you are being paid to do. Each man’s job in an assembly line must be done well if the finished product is to pass inspection. Lack of interest because of lack of job satisfaction accounts for the high percentage of rejects found in some plants and only makes the matter worse for the worker himself.
Of course, if you are able to change your job, that may be the best thing to do. Perhaps you can find a job that does give you satisfaction. Not a few are doing this these days, and those doing so are not limited to assembly-line workers. Thus a salesman in Ohio quit his job and moved to Alaska, where he is finding satisfaction in outdoor work. A former stockbroker is now studying and working toward a scientific career that will keep him in touch with nature. A New York City insurance broker quit his job and now runs an inn that he bought in Maine. A former veterinarian works at loading and unloading trucks because of the satisfaction he gets from manual labor, even though it pays only $2.50 an hour. In fact, he has turned down three offers for advancement, as he is not interested in an office job. And there is a police inspector who found himself getting mean because of the frustrations associated with his work, so he quit that work and took up painting and now finds satisfaction in making his living as an artist.
If you are able to find satisfying work, obviously that is the simplest way to end job dissatisfaction. But comparatively few are in position to make such a drastic change, or they may be fearful that their plans will not work out. So, next to trying to take greater interest in one’s work, what else can a person do?
Anyone can try to cultivate an improved outlook on life. As one industrial psychologist put it: ‘The degree of boredom depends upon one’s philosophy of life.’ Even if you have a job that has a minimum of challenge or responsibility, you need not suffer from deadly monotony. View your job as a means to an end, which is really what it is. Does it provide you with a measure of security, with what you need to take care of yourself and your family? Do not lose sight of these reasons for your work.
Also, if you cannot do anything about making your job more interesting, satisfying and rewarding, you can work at making your personal and family life more interesting, richer and fuller. If you work hard at that, you most likely will be rewarded with the love, respect and cooperation for which your soul longs. As you contribute to the happiness of your loved ones and they contribute to yours, you will find the monotony of your job less of a burden.
In this regard it might be said that Jehovah’s witnesses are in a peculiarly favored position. Why? They endeavor to apply the advice of Jesus Christ not to set their hearts on material riches. Instead, they ‘seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.’ (Matt. 6:19-33) Of course, they, too, are grateful when their secular work is personally satisfying. But such work is not the big thing in their lives. They view it only as a means to an end. It supplies their material needs so that they can devote themselves as fully as possible to the service of God. Their real delight is in aiding others to learn about God’s new order, a new system that will not be marred by exploitation of one’s fellowmen. Love of God, love for one’s neighbor, righteousness and truth will permeate life in that new order. Under such conditions, the work that is done will be genuinely satisfying. And the realization of that hope is not dependent on the negotiations of self-seeking men. It is based on the promise of a loving God, the unfailing word of the Creator of heaven and earth. With firm faith in such a grand prospect, much contentment in life can be had even now.—2 Pet. 3:13; 1 Tim. 6:6-12.