The Ridiculously Simple (And Avoidable) Reason Most People Hate Their Jobs

Gallup’s new report reveals why most people aren’t engaged at work, and it’s something their managers could easily fix.

The Ridiculously Simple (And Avoidable) Reason Most People Hate Their Jobs
[Photo: Alfred Gescheidt/Getty Images]

Do you love your job? If you do, you’re in the minority. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report only about one-third of employees say they’re engaged on the job. While some people actively hate their jobs, most people (55%) are just indifferent.


Why are so many people just going through the motions? A lot of it comes down to managers’ communication problems. On a big-picture level, most employees said that their company’s leaders don’t make them feel enthusiastic about the future. But on a day-to-day level, most employees said they know what’s expected of them, but that they don’t feel like they are recognized for doing good work.

But perhaps the most surprising reveal, considering that benefits are often used to attract and retain talent: Bosses are failing to communicate about everything from health insurance and 401(k) plans to paid time off and professional development programs.

And this is where the communication breakdown can lead not just to disengagement, but to turnover. Benefits (particularly health insurance and paid vacation) are often enough of a reason to switch jobs to get a better deal. Fifty-three percent of employees they polled said they’d leave a job to get better paid vacation time at another employer.

Gallup’s analysis revealed that 51% of workers are searching for new jobs. Workers have more options than ever, the authors of the Gallup report caution. And this lack of communication could lead to big losses for companies. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. up to $605 billion a year in lost productivity. As Gallup’s chairman and CEO Jim Clifton writes, “If American companies were simply to double the number of engaged workers from one-third to two-thirds, spirited employees would reverse our seriously declining national productivity.”

So despite knowing that benefits are what lure people to jobs and organizations that spend a lot of money polishing their brand image, Gallup’s analysis revealed an ever-widening communication gap, proving (once again) that people don’t quit companies, they quit their bosses.

Video: Searching For A New Job From Work? Here’s How To Keep It Low-Key And Professional

About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.