9 Reasons Americans Increasingly Hate Their Jobs

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: November 3, 2013

Workers Are Not Happy

At first glance, things seem to be getting better these days. We’re told the U.S. is in a period of gradual economic recovery, more companies are now hiring again, and unemployment continues to inch downward.

But as we head into the last few months of the year, it appears many American workers haven’t gotten the memo about the good news, and are preparing for a winter of discontent.

While unemployment is on the decline, underemployment is still a problem as the number of people who have given up looking for work and those who work part-time but seek full-time jobs, is closer to 14%. Also, the US government just recently emerged from shutdown mode, jobs still aren't being created as quickly as many pundits had hoped, and a clash regarding the debt ceiling between the two bickering parties is looming on the horizon.

Perhaps it’s this feeling of low morale and frustration at the slower-than-expected economic recovery that caused the overwhelmingly negative opinions from more than 2,000 people in our “Value of Work” survey. But whatever the reason, it's clear their attitudes toward work and how they view their jobs in general are souring.

9. No Pride

When we conducted this survey in 2012, 83% of respondents said they are “extremely proud” of the work they do on a daily basis.

But what a difference a year makes.

Less than 12 months later after asking the same question, the number of people proud of their work plummeted to 64%. A variety of explanations likely apply here, but this could be the result of the employees who survived layoffs constantly having to do more with less, and since hiring hasn’t happened as quickly as expected they’ve begun to lose pride in their work.

8. Unwillingness to Pass It On

Passing your profession on from one generation to the next used to be as American as apple pie and baseball. But according to our survey, following in a parent’s footsteps career-wise is akin to striking out.

Less than one-third (29%) of respondents said they would recommend their children go into their line of work. That number is down from 36% one year ago.

7. Lack of Fulfillment

In a perfect world your job would not only provide an ample paycheck, but also a feeling of fulfillment. But in today’s day and age, that just doesn’t seem to be the case for most people.

Despite the fact that most people spend at least 40 hours a week at work, only 39% said they feel fulfilled by what they do. That’s a precipitous drop from last year’s survey in which 59% of respondents said they are fulfilled by their respective careers.

6. Lack of Commitment

How committed are you to your job?

Back in the old days, it was the norm to get a job in your early 20s and work there for the next 40 years, retiring with a cake and a gold watch. Most employees were “company men” who were loyal for a lifetime to their respective employers. But today is a new day.

When asked if they were “100 percent committed” to their jobs, 52% of respondents replied in the affirmative. That’s down from the 71% who answered positively last year, proving many employees are frustrated and willing to jump ship if something better comes along.

5. Everyone is Overworked

With the recession came layoffs. With the layoffs came more work for existing employees.

With existing workers doing the jobs of two, three, and four people and hiring not bouncing back quickly enough, it should come as no surprise that more than half (52%) of respondents indicated they constantly feel overworked. That number is up from 45% in 2012.

4. No Extra Effort

Happy employees will bend over backward to go the extra mile in their jobs. But this year’s crop of respondents aren’t so happy.

When asked if they would be willing to work extra hours at their jobs, only 20%  said they’d burn the midnight oil. That’s a sharp decrease from last year’s 49% who said they’d be willing to work longer unexpected hours at their jobs.

3. They'd Quit If They Could

If you won a windfall in the lottery, would you come to work the next day?

Last year, 42% of people said even if they became instant millionaires they’d be at the office the next day. But in 2013, most of these hypothetical lottery winners will be no-shows, as less than one-third (30%) say they would clock in the next day.

2. For Love or Money?

Do you work because you love your job or because it puts food on your table and the lights on in the house?

A whopping 73% of respondents said they work primarily for a paycheck, according to our survey. That’s up from last year when only 55% said they work strictly for the money. This is likely a result of lingering effects from the recession and tough financial times for many workers and families.

1. Bad Attitude Toward Work

There was a fundamental shift in worker attitudes this year compared to last year when asked about what their attitudes are toward work.

In 2012, the top four answers to this question were “I’m proud of my work” (23%); “it gives me a sense of accomplishment” (22%); “it pays the bills” (19%); and “it’s a stepping stone to a better job” (16%).

Things seemed to flip-flop this year.

The top answers in 2013 were as follows: “it pays the bills” (29%); “it’s a stepping stone to a better job” (18%); “it gives me a sense of accomplishment” (14%). “I’m proud of my work” fell all the way to sixth place with just 11%.

Increase Your Job Satisfaction

Click here to view and download our 2013 Value of Work infographic!

If you're fundamentally unhappy in your job then that's one thing, but if you just want a raise then Salary.com can help.

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.