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You Don't Have to Hate Your Job

Sep 25, 2014

The following article is written by Tony Schwartz was originally posted by The New York Times DealBook and can be found by using the following link:


It was a collective howl of powerlessness, despair, cynicism and rage:

“Why do I hate work? Because profits over people have created a corporate environment where I am just as disposable as any other ‘resource.’”

“Hospitals proclaim that they appreciate their nurses, but they make a 12-hour work day the standard.” 

“I was never so poorly treated, undervalued, underpaid and overworked than as an adjunct professor in three different universities.” 

“When I worked in the ski resort industry, it struck me that if we cared for our lifts and grooming machines in the same manner as our employees, we’d be fired in short order for negligence.” 

“I loved my 23 years in the Navy. Civilian jobs pretty well stink.” 

“I work 9-5 and not a minute more. After being laid off four times, I refuse to give any corporation a minute more than I have to.” 

“The company that does not see its employees as disposable is as rare as hen’s teeth.” 

“Sheryl Sandberg, take note. The reason more women — and men — don’t lean in is that for many, work is a draining, soulless disappointment.” 

“Things are so awful it takes a median $10 million compensation to get anyone to be C.E.O. of these companies.”

Those are just a handful of short excerpts from nearly 500 overwhelmingly acid comments that readers sent me about the work they do, in response to “Why You Hate Your Job,” the article my colleague Christine Porath and I wrote for the Times’ Sunday Review section.

I spend all of my working days thinking about this issue. Even so, I was stunned to discover how pervasively and deeply so many people feel victimized, diminished and disempowered by work that consumes the biggest portion of their waking hours.

It doesn't have to be that way. I say that based on my experience running a small business for the past 11 years, and after spending countless hours visiting, studying and working with large organizations of all kinds.

There are some deep and complicated reasons that only a small percentage of employees around the world feel truly engaged and satisfied at work. There are also some simple solutions that leaders and managers can introduce at virtually no cost that would make any workplace more humane and desirable — and, in all likelihood, also increase profitability.

Here are my top six:

Respect and hold the value of every person who works for you, because nothing matters more. In practical terms, be actively interested in their well being; regularly express your appreciation for their contributions and accomplishments (the more specifically, the better); and see in them potentials they may not have yet fully recognized in themselves. Feeling cared for and encouraged to grow builds trust and loyalty, which frees people to spend less energy defending their own value and more energy creating value.

Start measuring people by the value they create, not by the number