In 2004, Forbes Magazine reported on a Conference Board (A New York-based research group) study according to which 52.3% of Americans are not satisfied with their jobs. In July 2016, the Wall Street Journal confirmed this by writing “Just under half of U.S. workers said they felt satisfied with their jobs last year.”
Most people dislike work and look forward to the weekend. The weekend passes so fast that, before they know it, they have to endure Monday morning. In one cartoon a man tells his friend “I love my job but hate the work.” For many, work is a necessary evil which they have to endure in order to sustain their existence.
It is understandable why people feel this way. Work can be boring and repetitious with no advancement prospects. Some have to deal with harsh bosses and unreasonable colleagues. Many feel that they deserve higher salaries. Others feel unappreciated, especially those whose bosses get all the credit for the work that they do.
Things are far worse in developing countries where labor laws are inadequate or not enforced. In some countries, people work 12-hour shifts for six or even seven days per week, often under the harshest of conditions.
We certainly must make every effort to improve working conditions. Individual workers must spare no effort at improving their lot by increasing their productivity, enhancing their skills and collectively demanding better working conditions. Such efforts have paid off handsomely.
However, there is another aspect to this issue…
My feelings towards my job is my personal reaction to the work that I do. Adjusting my perspective can go a long way to improve how I feel.
Regardless of working conditions, there are many reasons to be thankful for our work. A job provides one or more of the following:
- Enables us to take care of our needs and feed our children.
- Enables us to live productive lives.
- We learn, grow and mature.
- We meet new people and build precious relationships.
- Brings variety to our lives and keeps us from boredom.
- Builds our self-esteem as we receive praise and appreciation.
But the most important, yet least appreciated, aspect of work is the opportunity to serve, contribute to society and improve the human quality of life.
A self-centered life that primarily pursues pleasure and personal gratification will eventually disappoint, leaving us with a sense of emptiness. A life of service and contribution on the other hand will be rewarded with profound exhilaration.
The blessings that we enjoy could not even be imagined by people of past generations: universal education, cures for fatal diseases, instant communication, computers, the internet, rapid transportation, democracy, social reforms, pensions and other social programs; and yes, much better working conditions. All of these were made possible because people worked, created, and produced. These advances were championed by innovators and men and women of vision. Yet, they would not be possible without the work of “common” people who provide the support needed by these heroes.
In a war, some soldiers fight on the front lines. Others provide them with support such as intelligence, ammunition, food and medical services. Both functions are equally important. Without the latter, the former could not win a war.
Any worker can be proud of and content with the work that they do, regardless of the visibility, prestige and compensation. All legitimate work is essential and contributes to the welfare and advancement of humanity.
AMAA Armenia Representative