Which Came First: The Bad Job or the Bad Attitude?
Have you figured out what you want to be when you grow up?
Finding the right career isn’t as simple as exploring a few internships and choosing which ladder you want to climb. It’s often a process of trial and error or as much of an accidental discovery as Silly Putty.
The sometimes arduous journey is worth the struggle, though. In 2009, the OECD found that Americans spend 1,768 hours at work each year. Only a few countries – including Greece, Mexico, Italy, and historically, Korea — beat these numbers. But even if you’re lucky enough to live in the Netherlands, where most people work a mere 1,378 hours annually, that’s a lot of time to hate your job.
Some people say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. We don’t have any official Hunch data, but we’re pretty sure those people are retired or something. Even work you like isn’t something you’d necessarily do for free.
The majority of Hunchers enjoy their jobs at least sometimes. We don’t want to jump to conclusions, but we’re guessing that people who skipped this question are retired, unemployed, or identify way too much with Office Space.
Interestingly, many more Hunch users have chosen to share more detailed feelings about work. This could be related to question order or the fact that it’s easier to share a philosophy than to conclude that you either like or dislike your job.
Out of more than 57,000 Hunch users, 48% consider their personal life their top priority and 35% believe that sometimes work has to come first.
The concept of a work-life balance always goes back to gender norms. We don’t have the data to dive into a discussion about the glass ceiling or family roles, but you’ll notice that women most often describe work as something that pays the bills. Men overwhelmingly view work as an important part of their identity.
But let’s get back to basics. What can we figure out about people who like their jobs and why? For the purposes of this report, we’re not going to consider Hunch users who sometimes like their jobs. Instead, we’re going to focus on the groups that both generally like and dislike going to work.
Cubicle culture gets a bad rap, but you’ll notice that it doesn’t preclude an enjoyable job. Unsurprisingly, people who enjoy what they do are more likely to have an enclosed private office. Did they advance to an office of their own, because they enjoyed their jobs and performed well in the first place? Or is work behind closed doors just that much sweeter?
Other differences between those who like and dislike their jobs also force us to consider how much work environment really has to do with one’s attitude about work. Surely, some people would be unhappy at work no matter how cushy their job. Research shows that money does indeed buy happiness, but the benefits cap out at an annual salary of $60,000.
Here’s what else we know about those who happily go early and stay late, and those who are watching the clock for an entirely different reason:
|LOVE TO WORK||WORK TO LIVE|
|Speaking of work…||Live and work in the same town
|Feel they’re underpaid
|Attitudes||Proud of who they’ve become
|Unhappy with hair color, cut, or style
Much of this is intuitive. Of course entry-level workers aren’t as happy as the more senior staff they report to. They’re paying their dues in a tough economy. They’ve probably got thousands of dollars in student loans coupled with an infinitely smaller earning potential for most of their early adulthood. Many people cite the sense of entitlement among younger adults in the workforce, but can you blame them for worrying so much about advancement and compensation?
Education means more employment options. The people most likely to enjoy their work are doing something they studied in college, often holding positions requiring advanced graduate degrees. (When you invest that kind of time and money into higher education, you’d better like your job).
People who like their jobs tend to be older and often have other assets that might make them more positive people in general. In many cases, they don’t need their jobs the way a younger person does. They’re not on their own. They have partners whom we can assume are emotionally and financially supportive. They have kids who say the darndest things. They’ve got…fruit bowls?
Well, yes. It looks like people who like their jobs put more thought into what they put on their tables and presumably, in their bodies. Paying attention to the small details makes a difference. Maybe people who are more positive about themselves are naturally inclined to feel more positive about other things, including their jobs. (And yes, it could be easier to pay attention to the little things when you’ve got a dual-income household).
The takeaway: Wherever you are in your career, attitude determines altitude. Having a positive attitude and investing in yourself on your own time makes you happier from 9-5, which makes you more likely to advance at work. Being happier at work then functions in a feedback loop to make you happier outside of work.
Do you agree? What makes work work for you?