In a world where upward of 80% of people hate their jobs, so much so that there is an entire website dedicated to discussing really hating one’s job, not to mention the Facebook page, Twitter handle and Tumblr tag of the same vein, it’s time to admit that something is a little broken. But what is it, exactly, that is broken?
Although the tirade of tears and tantrums that regularly spew forth onto the internet about the ills of the workplace would lead you to believe that the problem ball lies squarely in the modern employer’s court, the uncomfortable reality is that it the responsibility may, in fact, lie with the modern employee. Before we jump to any hasty conclusions, however, let’s dig a little deeper into what exactly the problem might be.
Is the modern workplace broken?
There is no hiding from the fact that some elements of the modern workplace are, well, just not that wonderful. The fact that technology and globalization has enabled employees to be contactable 24/7, as well as the fact that we are apparently working more hours than ever before, are both tell-tale signs that our workplaces are less-than-perfect. Oh, and if you think that 24/7 emailing and a bit of hard work never hurt anyone, you would be quite wrong – the epidemic of overwork actually kills over 600,000 workers in China every year.
Although on balance it would seem that our jobs are definitely broken, the fact of the matter is that, by comparison, jobs are actually getting better. A quick look into any history book would tell you that conditions have vastly improved for employees, with modern advancements such as the science of ergonomics, and the introduction of workplace wellbeing programs, ensuring that office employees are, at least mostly, happy and comfortable. And despite the abundance of media sensationalism around excessive working hours, the ABS reports the contrary – the amount of actual hours that the average employee is working has been decreasing since the year 2000.
So if it isn’t our jobs that are actually broken – what might it be?
Is the modern worker broken?
If the modern workplace has some ills, so, it seems, does the modern worker. The advent of Millennials (those born between the 1980s and 2000) in the workforce has been less-than-well received, with some employers labelling them selfish, lazy narcissists, and others saying that they are cynical, unaccustomed to hard work, and courting fragile egos, all of which have led them to be completely unprepared for the realities of work.
Millennials, themselves, however, report a very different story. They maintain that what appears as cynical behavior is just a realistic attitude to the more transient nature of the workforce, and that, given that they will work more years than any previous generation, it is reasonable to expect interesting, fulfilling and flexible work.
If neither our workplaces, or our workers, are fundamentally broken, then what are we missing?
Resilience – the missing ingredient
The missing ingredient in the worker-workplace debate might just be resilience. Individuals who are resilient are more positive towards their work and life, feel more purposed and are less bothered by failure, are willing to work harder and show more commitment to their goals, and also demonstrate a whole host of other highly beneficial characteristics for the workplace. In other words, if the modern worker was a little more resilient, they would be better equipped to deal with the (arguably fair) reality of the current workplace.
Don’t think your workers are resilient enough? Don’t worry. Resilience can be taught. And it probably should be, too, to ensure that your employees are amongst the 20% of those in the world that do, in fact, love their job.
Author: Janine Cahill