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If You Hate Your Job, Welcome to the Club. So Now What to Do About It?

June 21, 2013, 12:00 AM

Seven in 10 workers have "checked out" at work or are "actively disengaged," according to a recent Gallup Poll. While this figure is alarming, the alarm bells have been going off for a while. Previous polls have indicated the same level of disengagement in recent years. 

Meanwhile, Gallup's analysis estimates that "actively disengaged" employees - those who "hate" going to work - cost the U.S. as much as $550 billion in economic activity annually.

So what the heck is going on here? There is an enormous economic imperative to do better, so why have these abysmal levels of engagement not changed?

According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School, engagement is a problem all over the world. However, there are examples of companies both large and small that have found a solution to the engagement crisis. The solution appears to be very simple. Do you feel like you make a difference when you go to work? If the answer is yes, you tend to be happy. If the answer is no, you tend to feel miserable. 

The implementation of this solution, on the other hand, is difficult. Kanter likens the process of finding job satisfaction to solving a Rubik’s cube: "you twist and try to get the colors right until you get everything in perfect alignment."  

This involves embedding the right sense of values and purpose in work, which Kanter argues is not "a luxury in good times...it’s actually a necessity in hard times."

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If You Hate Your Job, Welco...

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