Why Do Many Employees Hate Work?

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Feature Story


The way we’re working isn’t working, according to an article from the archives of The New York Times.  For many employees, there is probably little excitement when they get to the office, they don’t feel much appreciated while they are there, they find it difficult to get their most important work done amid the distractions, and they don’t believe what they’re doing makes much of a difference, the article pointed out.

By the time they get home, many employees are pretty much running on empty, and still answering emails until they fall asleep.

Increasingly, this experience is common not just to middle managers, but also to top executives, according to article authors Tony Schwartz, CEO of consulting firm The Energy Project and consultant Christine Porath, associate professor at Georgetown University.

More broadly, just 30 percent of employees in America feel engaged at work, according to a 2013 report by Gallup cited in the story. Around the world, across 142 countries, the proportion of employees who feel engaged at work is just 13 percent. For most of us, in short, work is a depleting, dispiriting experience, and in some obvious ways, it’s getting worse.

According to the article, demand for our time is increasingly exceeding our capacity — draining us of the energy we need to bring our skill and talent fully to life. Increased competitiveness and a leaner, post-recession work force add to the pressures. Moreover, the rise of digital technology is perhaps the biggest influence, exposing us to an unprecedented flood of information and requests that we feel compelled to read and respond to at all hours of the day and night.

Curious to understand what most influences people’s engagement and productivity at work, The Energy Project, which works with organizations and their leaders to improve employee engagement and more sustainable performance, partnered with the Harvard Business Review in 2014 to conduct a survey of more than 12,000 mostly white-collar employees across a broad range of companies and industries.

The Energy Project also polled workers at two of its clients — one a manufacturing company with 6,000 employees, the other a financial services company with 2,500 employees. The results, according to article, were remarkably similar across all three populations.

Workers More Satisfied When Core Needs Met

Employees are more satisfied and productive, it turns out, when four of their core needs are met: physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus on their most important tasks and define when/where they get work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and feeling connected to a higher purpose at work.

The more effectively leaders and organizations support employees in meeting these needs, the more likely employees are to experience engagement, loyalty, job satisfaction and positive energy, with lower levels of stress. When employees have one need met, compared with none, all of their performance variables improve. The more needs met, the more positive the impact.

Engagement — defined as “involvement, commitment, passion, enthusiasm, focused effort and energy” — has been widely correlated with higher corporate performance. In a meta-analysis of research studies across 192 companies, Gallup found that companies in the top quartile for engaged employees, compared with the bottom quartile, had 22 percent higher profitability, 10 percent higher customer ratings, 28 percent less theft and 48 percent fewer safety incidents.

Put simply, the way people feel at work profoundly influences how they perform. What the study revealed, the article noted, is just how much impact companies can have when they meet each of the following core employee needs.

Renewal: Employees who take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who take no breaks or just one during the day. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and well being.

Value: Feeling cared for by one’s supervisor has more impact on people’s sense of trust and safety than any other behavior by a leader. Employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organization and are 67 percent more engaged.

Focus: Only 20 percent of respondents said they were able to focus on one task at a time, but those who could were 50 percent more engaged. Similarly, only one-third said they were able to prioritize tasks, but those who did were 1.6 times better able to focus on one thing at a time.

Purpose: Employees who derive meaning and significance from work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations – the highest single impact of any survey. These workers also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and were 1.4 times more engaged at work.

The Energy Project often asks senior leaders a simple question, the article noted: If your employees feel more energized, valued, focused and purposeful, do they perform better? Not surprisingly, the answer is almost always “Yes.” Next they asked, “So how much do you invest in meeting those needs?” An uncomfortable silence typically ensues.

How to explain this odd disconnect? For some answers and more insights on the topic, read the full article, which can be found here.


 2017 hiring has started off like a rocket ship.  Many clients are looking to increase staffing and strengthen their team’s skills.  Replacements continue to increase as many employees have move on to new opportunities within and outside of their respected organizations.

We at BLK have witness an increase in direct hire orders while temp orders have slightly decreased. This appears to be mirroring a national trend as reported by various staffing publications.

Our only caution is the turmoil in Washington as trade, taxes and infrastructure projects are negotiated with congress, countries and business leaders.  However; based on the stock markets strong showing hopefully business and hiring will flourish under this new administration.