Even if you love your job, you hate your job. At least some of the time, and in some small way. Our relationship with work is up and down, touch and go. No one is totally satisfied all the time. It just wouldn’t be fair.
Hopefully, you fall into that fortunate group of employees that likes or loves their job most of the time. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have issues and irritations, though. There’s no shortage of complaints, from the relatively minor (the copier jamming) to the seriously frustrating (superiors taking credit for your work). In a 2013 Gallup survey on job satisfaction, nearly 24% of respondents said they were “actively disengaged” or unhappy at work – only 13% considered themselves happy and engaged overall.
Those numbers aren’t great. As a species, we love to complain. We focus on the negative. We disregard and ignore the positive. It’s human nature.
But what are the greatest, universal complaints? Just what do we hate (a very strong word) most about our jobs? It turns out, no matter where we work, no matter the industry or country, the stuff that drives us crazy is pretty much the same.
1. Poor Communication
A frequent complaint amongst employees unhappy at work is poor communication. Colleagues don’t collaborate. Superiors don’t explain and share goals or objectives. Orders trickle down from management, but there is little, if any, discussion. Employees are spoken at instead of spoken with, and despite being told what to do, they don’t know why they’re doing it. This can lead to disengagement, frustration, and lack of investment in the company. Good employers make their employees a part of the conversation rather than just providing them with the CliffsNotes later.
Poor communication also extends to availability. The managers, supervisors, and executives need to be available to their underlings. If there’s not an “open door” policy, there needs to be a clear procedure in place for someone to get the ear of their boss. Channels of communication have to exist.
2. Unnecessary Email and Meetings
Everyone hates meetings. And they’re a productivity killer. But that doesn’t stop some businesses and companies from having useless meeting after useless meeting. Meetings about meetings. Employees despise attending meetings for something that could have been handled in an email or internal memo. Meetings disrupt workflow.
A close second to the hatred towards meetings is the animosity towards unnecessary emails. The business world still functions via email. It’s a fast, convenient, and efficient manner in which to communicate and share information. But employees receive dozens or hundreds of them each day, and a large chunk of those are not relevant or pertinent to them. Someone hits “Reply All” or includes their name in the CC: field for no particular reason. It amounts to a ton of digital trash to sort through every day.
Another major thorn in the side of employees everywhere is micromanagement. A manager or supervisor that insists on knowing absolutely everything going on at all times, and requires all decisions go through them, is guilty of committing this workplace sin. Micromanaged employees feel like their employer doesn’t trust them, doesn’t believe in their abilities, and doesn’t value their input on any level. We all need a certain level of autonomy in our jobs. Without it, we have no investment or connection with what we are doing.
4. No Loyalty or Job Security
Most employees will have many jobs over their working lives. Our parents and grandparents typically spent their entire careers with one single company or business, but that is the exception and not the rule in the 21 century. We jump from job to job. While that is sometimes by choice, it is frequently not. Any business that is quick to downsize or lay off employees during times of financial hardship can expect a very unhappy workforce. Employees need to believe that their employer is watching out for them and has their best interests at heart. When someone works someplace for 10, 15, or 20 years, they expect a certain amount of loyalty in return.
5. Feeling Underappreciated or Undervalued
In any relationship, the kiss of death is feeling underappreciated or taken for granted, and the workplace is no exception. Employees want to feel valued. They want to be recognized for their time and effort on the company’s behalf. A simple pat on the back from the boss is often all it takes. But when even that doesn’t happen, employees can lose the desire to go above and beyond. When superiors habitually show no appreciation or recognition for a job well done (simply assigning the next task whenever anything is completed), it’s not long before the staff starts looking elsewhere.
6. Little Opportunity
We all want to believe we can work our way up from the mailroom to the CEO’s office, given enough time and hard work. We want to believe our success will be based on our merit and effort. Sometimes, though, the opportunities for advancement just don’t materialize. Some companies never seem to promote from within, turning to outside sources whenever promotions and new positions become available. That can leave the existing staff feeling disheartened and discouraged. What’s the point of hard work if it will never amount to anything for them?
7. Red Tape and Paperwork
Red tape and paperwork are a part of life. We have to deal with them in nearly every facet of our lives… but when it creeps into our jobs, too, it can be maddening. Filling out a form to get something done is one thing, but having to file a document in triplicate before getting a secondary form that requires three separate signatories before applying for the requisition permit is infuriating to say the least. The paper trail for anything in a multinational corporation can be miles long. There has to be an easier way.
8. Nepotism and Favoritism
There are rules and regulations in place to prevent it, but favoritism and nepotism still rear their ugly heads from time to time. When a superior displays blatant favoritism towards one particular employee (or even worse, family member), it leaves the rest of the staff feeling angry. Success and reward need to be based on merit, not relationship, for a business to thrive and a staff to feel happy and engaged at work.
9. Online Monitoring
We live in a digital world, constantly connected all day, every day. We conduct research online, work online, communicate online, relax online, and virtually everything else. Some companies have even started monitoring the online activity of their employees. There’s a time and a place for surfing the net, and during work hours is probably not one of them. That being said, it feels like an invasion of privacy and infringement when your employer doesn’t trust you enough to work when you’re supposed to be working. Many people enjoy a quick visit to Facebook or some other platform during their coffee or lunch break. There might even be legitimate reasons why you’d need to visit an otherwise off-limits website, but with company monitoring, you might not be able to do so. And while monitoring is bad enough, some businesses actually block various websites and services. This can actually interfere with someone doing their job, as the filters used to block sites are imperfect at best. Frustrating for all, and demonstrates a complete lack of trust.
10. Overworked and Underpaid
Too much work, for too little pay. High demands and stress, but low remuneration. In a perfect world, our salaries would adequately reflect the time and energy we put in, but that doesn’t always work out.
11. Ridiculous Corporate Policies
Similar to the online monitoring fracas, some company policies are downright ridiculous. No personal calls. No social media. No food at desks. No personal decorations. No jewelry for men. No personal visits. No kissing in the parking lot. The intentions may be noble, but we all know what they say about good intentions. Iron-clad rules make it difficult for everyone, and can make employees feel like they’re little children in kindergarten again. Good employees understand what is and is not acceptable behavior in the workplace. Explicitly spelling it out to them is an insult to their intelligence and common sense. The best companies trust their employees to make the right decisions.
12. Crappy Boss
There are so many ways a boss can be described as crappy: incompetent, petty, arrogant, close-minded, dumb, incapable, too passive, too aggressive, hostile, cruel, and on and on. A bad boss can make even a dream job an absolute nightmare. May you never experience one in your career (which, unfortunately, is unlikely)!
The things here? Employees hate them. If you’re an employer, make sure they don’t exist.
You will hate some things about your job. That’s a given. But, hopefully, you can find much more to love during even the worst of days.
What would you add here? What is the single thing you hate most about your job? Leave your additions in the comments section below!