Don’t Like Your Job? This Study Finds You’re Really, REALLY Not Alone

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Stress at work
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“TGIF!”

“Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays.”

“Hard work never killed anyone — but why take a chance?”

All of us have uttered a quip or two like these at some point about how much of a drag work can be.

Even so, some people are generally happy with their jobs and don’t dread going to work.

Others, however, are utterly miserable in their jobs.

In fact, a recent study found that out of a list of 40 activities, the only thing people dislike more than going to work is being sick in bed.

British people responding to that study, conducted by the Norwegian Research Council earlier this year, said that instead of reporting to work, they would rather:

  • Do housework
  • Commute somewhere
  • Sit in a meeting
  • Organize their finances
  • Stand in line

Who Are All These Unhappy Working Stiffs?

A British study on world happiness released this month took a deep dive into employee happiness, both on and off the job.

It may not surprise you to hear that managers and executives report higher job satisfaction than clerical workers, sales people or service personnel.

What you might not expect is that people across the globe report the same level of job satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) as U.S. workers.

Workers in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand all report roughly the same degree of satisfaction with their jobs.

For instance, managers and professional workers in North America report roughly the same level of job satisfaction as their counterparts in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, clerical and service workers and in the same locations say they’re just about equally dissatisfied.

What’s more, happiness in the workplace plays a significant role in the overall positivity we feel about our lives.

It sucks that the contentment we feel in life is tied so closely to the existence and quality of our jobs, but at least we’ve got a lot of company throughout the world.

A Closer Look At Why Workers Are Unhappy

The study also revealed job satisfaction is largely tied to how engaged we are as workers.

The less actively engaged we are at work, the lower our overall job satisfaction and the less happy we are in life.

Researchers say, “countries across North and South America, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand typically see more individuals reporting satisfaction with their jobs.”

Of those countries, a mere 20% say they’re “actively engaged” in their jobs.

Senior professionals, business owners and other well-paid people report much higher job engagement than other types of workers, which correlates with the study’s earlier findings that show people in those roles also report higher job satisfaction.

Apparently the rest of us — the people not raking in the big bucks — would rather wait in line at a bus stop or file our taxes than show up and apply ourselves at work.

But wait… there’s hope.

“Well-paying jobs are conducive to happiness, but this is far from the whole story,” researchers explain. “Some of the most important job factors that were shown to be driving subjective well being included work-life balance, autonomy [and] variety.”

What’s It All Mean?

The bottom line is that you have more control over your happiness than you think.

The vast majority of workers don’t wake up every morning so excited to go to work that they’d show up for free.

On the other hand, employees who proactively find ways to stay engaged with their job and strive to find work-life balance tend be happier people overall.

How to Grab the Brass Ring of Job Happiness

Don’t wait for your job to become the embodiment of perfect employment on its own. Take steps yourself toward improving your on-the-job engagement and work-life balance.

For instance, you could:

If you hate your job so much that you’re thinking about quitting, you could try these 10 strategies first.  

And if you really don’t want to work, here are some ways to make a living without having a traditional job.

Above all, remember one thing. This study confirms what we’ve already learned.

If your job is stressing you out, you aren’t alone.

Your turn: How do you find work-life balance?

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s tried all three of those tips (but not all at once) and can confirm that they work.