Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Job Satisfaction

Sometimes it comes up in conversation that Andrew is looking at colleges. A few months ago he was considering what he might want to study, what career he might like. Acquaintances would inquire. And that's when I got the shocker.

Nobody seems to like what they do.

When we said that he was considering law enforcement or security, we were told by cops or ex-cops that that would be a terrible profession to enter. Too dangerous. Too political.

When we said that he was considering computer work or engineering, people told us what was wrong with that.

When we said he thought he might be a nurse, he was told how horrible that was, especially with all the record-keeping that can seem like it takes priority over patient-care.

Teachers and day-care workers have told me how terrible their jobs are. Children are undisciplined and mean; parents are blindly protective of Little Junior who would never do anything wrong.

Small-business owners know the troubles of taxes and regulations and finding good employees. Factory workers are tired of the mundane work and the health repercussions. Pastors are frustrated with the low pay and never-ending needs. Clerical workers develop carpel tunnel syndrome and must tolerate business/marketing lingo. Chefs and cooks put in many years at poverty-level salaries and work late hours and long weekends. Maids clean up after piggy slobs who 'get back at the man' by leaving a bigger mess than would be normal.

I've been trying to figure out why so many people discourage kids from going into their line of work. Is this a societal problem, and nurses and teachers and policemen and maids really are serving a nasty populace? Is this a change in employers, and how they see employees as just another [replaceable] cog in the machinery of creating a product? Or do we all desire vacation and retirement, resenting our work because jobs thwart our fun-time?


  1. I would guess it's some of all of the above, along with a healthy dose of not understanding what vocation is. I hated working, hated it, until I learned the real definition of vocation and took on my needed jobs as a service to those around me and then found a peace and contentment with it that I never had before. There is a whole different attitude when you work to serve others and get a paycheck for it, than there is if you work for a paycheck and have to serve others to get it, subtle yes, but very different.

  2. I think engineering is a great educational path, if you have an aptitude for math and logic. Some jobs might be good, some might be bad, but an engineering background teaches you to solve problems, and that prepares you for a wide variety of careers.

  3. I think it really depends on the workplace. I knew people working in the nursing home as CNAs or nurses who said that they enjoyed working there... whereas they didn't enjoy that job somewhere else.

    On the other hand working in a school, a lot of the employees liked it there, while I didn't. That was a difference in world view problem.

  4. I loved being a graphic designer. Does he have a creative streak?

  5. I think nursing is such a broad career that sometimes nurses pick a specialty, aren't happy and just get burned out on nursing in general. I had the opportunity on the other hand to pick a specialty that I love. So, yeah, I have some cynical days where I may deal with "difficult" people or feel like I don't have enough time in a shift to get my work done, but overall, it's incredibly satisfying. There's nothing like taking care of a baby who's just hanging out to life, and then being able to send that baby home later, totally recovered :-) That doesn't always happen but it's those moments that make my job great!

  6. Meghan, no, Andrew isn't much into creative pursuits.

    Heidi, my mom loved being a nursery nurse too. Better yet, though, to have your own baby at home full-time. Congratulations!

  7. I think a lot of it is how employers treat their employees and the limits they set with their customers. When I worked at the local market I hated my job, I dreaded getting up in the morning. The owner wasn't fair with the employees and never had a nice or encouraging thing to say. We had one customer who threatened bodily harm to a manager, the owner just told him he had to apologize so he could continue shopping in the store. The employees knew that the owner didn't care about them at all. That kind of environment doesn't breed feelings of satisfaction.

    I now work at the feed store, the pay is a bit less but the owner has nothing but positive comments for me. The owner is protective of his employees, making sure the customers and vendors are respectful and not rude. I find myself looking for ways to help the store succeed and making sure the customers are taken care of. I no longer dread getting up and going to work :)