Though there's a reason they call that thing we do at the office "work," just because you're earning a paycheck doesn't mean you need to be miserable day in, day out. Yet more than half of U.S. adults identify as being unhappy at work. Job site Hired did some digging to see what it is that makes Americans so dissatisfied, and here are the reasons it uncovered that explain this trend.
1. Few or little opportunity for advancement
There's nothing worse than the feeling of knowing you're stuck in a dead-end job. It's no wonder, then, that having virtually no chance of getting ahead is the thing that bums working Americans out the most.
If you're stuck in a job with no real future, the solution is simple: Put yourself out there and find a better opportunity. You may need to do some serious networking to get there, whether it's aggressively reaching out to industry contacts or attending conferences in the hopes of snagging an opening somewhere. You may even have to work on building up some of your skills to ensure that you're qualified for a more desirable role, which could mean taking a class or renewing a certification. But no matter what specific steps end up being involved, the key is to get out of a dead-end situation before your performance and sanity start to suffer.
2. Company culture
It's one thing for your employer to expect that you show up on time and work your hardest during business hours. But it's another thing to work in an environment where 50 hours a week on the job is nowhere near respectable, and leaving at 5:00 p.m. is considered a half-day. In fact, another major reason why so many folks can't stand their jobs is that they're just plain unhappy with the company culture they're subjected to.
If you feel that your company culture is rooted in unreasonable demands, and that employees just aren't respected across the board, it's time to work somewhere that better aligns with your personality and expectations. Finding the ideal fit isn't easy, but once you identify some leads, do your research to see how employees tend to be treated. This might mean reaching out to people you know at those companies or checking out anonymous company reviews on sites like Glassdoor.
3. Being underpaid
Not shockingly, a large chunk of working Americans are dissatisfied with their paychecks. If you're convinced you're being underpaid, you have one of two choices: find a better-paying job elsewhere or gear up to negotiate a raise.
The latter might actually be less intimidating than you'd think, provided you come in prepared. To successfully fight for a raise, do your research to see what other professionals in your industry are making. Sites like Salary.com make it easy to see how your compensation stacks up based on your job title and geographic location. Once you've compiled some data, make a list of your accomplishments to date, and show the powers that be at your company why you're such a valuable asset. If you can simultaneously prove that you're not getting the going rate, and that your employer truly needs you, there's a good chance you'll score that much-needed salary bump.
4. Loathsome managers and coworkers
Sometimes, the people you work with, and for, can make or break your experience on the job. Given the amount of time some of us spend at the office, it's not surprising to learn that a large number of Americans are unhappy at work primarily because of the people they're surrounded with. But while dealing with a toxic coworker or terrible boss is no picnic, there are ways to mitigate your suffering if you're otherwise happy where you are.
If it's an annoying or unscrupulous colleague who's bringing you down, your best bet is to distance yourself from that person to the greatest extent possible. Ask to be assigned to a different project or team, and do your best to carve out a position that keeps your interactions with that dreaded coworker to a minimum. If that's not an option, document any and all incidents in which that person steps over the line. If you have a decent HR department, someone will have no choice but to intervene.
Dealing with an awful boss is far more challenging, but if you do your best to understand what sets your manager off, you can take steps to avoid those scenarios, thus minimizing conflict. You might also try talking things out with your boss, assuming he or she is a minimally reasonable human being. If that doesn't work, there's always the option to ask for a transfer to another department or team. And don't hesitate to keep a log of interactions where your boss acts inappropriately so that you have a leg to stand on if an HR conversation becomes necessary.
It's one thing not to always love your job, but it's another to be downright miserable. If your job situation is getting you down, whether due to one of the above reasons or a totally different factor, it's time to take action before things get worse. Both your career and well-being depend on it.
The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.