2013-11-18

Co.Exist

Everyone In The World Hates Their Jobs—But Americans Hate Theirs The Most

A survey asked people if they were happy to go to work in the morning. The answer was a rather emphatic "no." What are we going to do about this global case of the Mondays?

We suppose this survey of 8,000 workers across the United States, Canada, India, and Europe makes it somewhat official: America is number one! Number one in the percentage of employees who hate their jobs, that is.

Monster.com and market research company GfK conducted the study, which revealed that only 53% of Americans actively enjoy their jobs, and 15% actively dislike them. Canadians, meanwhile, took top prize for having the cheeriest workforce: 64% of Canadians like their jobs, while only 7% hate what they do. Other nations fell somewhere in between, which you can see in this infographic below:

"There’s been lots of studies done about how Europeans have more vacation days, or have better work-life balance. The other side of it is that there’s a lot of information about Americans working too many hours," Joanie Ruge, senior vice president at the job search site Monster Worldwide, Inc. said. "More companies are trying to get more work done with less people."

This doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, given that the United States has some of the most backward labor practices in the world. It’s one of the few countries that doesn’t require paid annual leave or paid maternity leave by law. The highest earners in the U.S. work 60 to 80 hours a week, and overall, the U.S. has some of the longest working hours among developed nations.

That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re more productive, however. Germany, for example, averages a 35-hour work week but also maintains the fourth largest economy in the world.

The full infographic. Click to enlarge.

Still, only 34% of Germans actively enjoy their work, and 10% dislike it, according to the survey—a rate somewhat similar to France, which mandates a 35-hour work week.

Is it ambivalence? Maybe more time just means that work doesn’t consume the entirety of French and German lives. Maybe their passions lie at home, in their rich inner lives, or in hobbies. Managers in Canada, meanwhile, are focusing their efforts on improving employee engagement and happiness while at work, which could account for the difference, says Rouge.

Of course, there’s always the option to shift to the 30-hour work week, as suggested by British think tank the New Economics Foundation. When I recently spoke to Anna Coote, head of the group's social policy, she pointed out that the number of hours worked no longer relates to efficiency at work, and that long hours have all sorts of extra costs (like increased greenhouse gas emissions) we don’t usually consider. Coote also noted that big American companies could play a significant role in shifting the broader office culture in the U.S. to a better work-life balance.

So, can we move past this awful work-life balance thing, yet? It’d be nice to do so without having to move to Canada.

[Image: Flickr user Jeremy Kunz]

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19 Comments

  • No Andno

    Only insane people like slavery. Employment is nothing but slavery. We don't live like human beings, we live like mindless insect drones or machines. Standing there doing the same repetition every week of our lives. And for what? To manufacture more & more useless plastic junk that takes up all our space. What exactly is there to like about slavery/employment/domination?

  • Blake Okafor

    Pays the bills, puts food on the table. You know what they say though "find a job you like and it won't feel like work at all" so your point is invalid.

  • Radek Piskorski

    I thought the numbers for the US and the UK looked odd when compared. Turns out US adds up to 99% and the UK adds up to 89%. WTF?

  • Stuart

    How could they leave Japan off of this survey? One of the biggest economies in the world and a workforce that generally puts their job over everything else, it would have been intriguing to see where they would have been in those surveyed.

  • Joel Marc

    As a Canadian who enjoys his profession, I think there are also macro-economics that influence our happiness in the workspace. Canada faired well over the recession, our political landscape has remained unchanged in a decade, and we've enjoy a lengthy period of peace. However, macro-stability and good health care/benefits aren't the singular driver of happiness, as clear illustrated by Germany.

    I agree with the comments here that doing what you LOVE is the biggest contributor to happiness. The kicker is that doing what you love can conflict with the traditional corporate path to wealth. There's a great documentary out called 'Happy' that explores this: http://vimeo.com/11335940

  • Michael Barata

    The belief someone cannot do something they love as a career is a MAJOR part of the problem. We tell children to follow their dreams, but only if those dreams are socially acceptable [socially perceived] as a means to generate money. Society (including parents) do not seem interested in encouraging children....people...to pursue their dreams. They are reluctant to nurture someone because they do not understand the dream or bliss, so they status quo it to death.

    The workplace (not every single one of them, of course) is set up to control not unleash. The [HR] one-size-fits-all approach strips people of their individuality, unique creativity and fails to recognize the psych101 of it - everyone is different. Freeing people to discover how to meet organizational objectives AND feel fulfilled in their personal lives is game changing. If someone is not meeting performance standards, action, not little notes in files needs to happen.

    Orgs wrongly continue to manage the person instead of performance. Managers are essentially adult babysitters.

  • David

    Got to wonder how valid this survey is - those in Canada who work in the private sector are not that happy and I can't imagine that they're is such a high percentage as stated in this article. I actually recently quit my job because after reading multiple articles from quitornot.com and cnbc.com, I realized just how awful my job actually was and I'm thankful for quitting!

  • Debbie Ruston

    The definition of insanity, as we know, is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Going to work at a job every day that you hate doesn't make any sense. If someone hates their work, it isn't going to change until they decide to make a different choice.

    Here is a great example of this very concept....

    http://www.linkedin.com/today/...

  • JusMoney

    slave wages, no benefits, no union protections, part time hours, no healthcare, no retirement, no vacations, and being insulted as lazy moochers by the arrogant thugs in the republican party and their delusional tea party enablers. what's not to like about working in america.

  • Kevin Kennemer

    The new workforce simply wants a workplace where they are treated with dignity and respect. Why? They observed their parents work long hours only to be laid-off several times in their career and now loyalty to corporate America is dead. I recommend people find a good job in a great company culture rather than a dream job in a toxic culture. In reality, dream jobs are elusive. If you want a dream job, start your own company.

  • beechnut79

    Loyalty on both sides is dead. After a few years you are usually considered too big an expense, even if you prove yourself to be good.

  • gq0

    The problem with Germans is that they are not overly excited about anything. In their mindset everything can be improved and their thoughts are always on the bad things. Germans do not praise people, they only criticise. If you do not get criticised by a German it is an implicit praise ;-)

  • Noel Hollis

    This makes me smile a lot. I work heavily with SAP and it's pretty true. They're making a effort now though!

  • DK

    I don't think a survey of 8000 people between 7 countries accurately describes the realities.

  • tom mclaughlin

    Look what companies like Wall Mart do,low pay,small hours and people just hate being there.That's the tip of the ice burg and one day it will all come crumbling down.

  • Jacky Liang

    As a Canadian that's currently working the United States, the attitudes of Canadians are just different in general. I don't mean to offend any Americans here, but in general they feel more "entitled" to things, which is a shift of attitude from where I am from, where people tend to make the best of something.

  • 50crates

    Everyone is entitled to their dream job, you just have to make yourself the best you can be and you will find it. If you don't like your job, find another. It is possible, but you will have to work for it. It won't be provided at no cost.

  • electrobento

    This is what happens when everyone thinks they're entitled to their "dream job" and if they don't get it, they've failed in life.

  • ConservatusCarnifex

    Life is not about work. Can everyone have their dream job? No- obviously not. But should people spend their extremely short existence being abused in long, meaningless hours doing nothing of importance? No, obviously not. People should be able to pursue their dream job CAREER, while perhaps never quite reaching that specific final dream. Rock star? No, but a musician. Next Bill Gates? No, but a tech company VP. President? No, but there's always room for more politicians, it seems.

    As to your last point, what you're referring to is a personality type. I, along with 25% of other people, identify by our careers. It's called a "maestro" personality type. If you ask a non-maestro, "What do you do?" a typical response would be, "I'm a cashier at Kroger's." They list the position, but more importantly the company. A maestro doesn't associate with our company in that way. Not to say we don't love their company, or whatever, it's simply the career is who we are. If you had asked me a while back what I did, I would have simply said, "I'm a virtual reality developer." I identify by that. When I envision working, I don't envision slogging through nonsense to get my check to pay bills. I envision a bookshelf full of countless books on the career, having a mastery of it beyond that of others.

    I don't agree that maestros have one "dream job" or career, but I will agree that having no career as a maestro means you can't identify as successful. I personally believe I've failed in life, but it's not due to the loss of my career a decade ago.