Researched Works

Snippets on Employee Satisfaction, Happiness, and Other Issues

Work conditions and state policies are key factors in making employees satisfied and happy. They can also cause problems.

In a world dominated by market economies and stiff competition, multimillion members of contemporary proletariat class earn a living by serving bourgeois or elite capitalist employers. Many companies and governments have humane labor policies, yet these do not always jive with practice. It is also a fact that only a few people enjoy the work they do or are grateful for their jobs. The rest, however, are left to do what they have to because they need the money to sustain themselves and to help their equally struggling families survive.

Some work conditions, benefits, and issues

Although a recently released Conference Board report ironically states that "most Americans hate their jobs", Ed O' Keefe and Joe Davidson's July 2010 article on The Washington Post describes the job satisfaction of federal workers in a survey conducted by the Obama Administration. The 2010 Employee Job Satisfaction Survey Report cites the following behind employee happiness (Worland, 2010): job security, benefits, opportunities to use skills and abilities, work itself, and compensation/pay.

Similarly, Canadian workers have also expressed satisfaction with their employers based on a survey of 23 countries (Fortier, 2010). However, that job satisfaction does not shield workers from experiencing work stress. Kim Covert (2010) writes that aside from insufficient pay, work overload and negative work environment are also sources of workplace stress in Canada.

Across the globe, pseudo-socialist China – in spite of adopting capitalism to spur economic development (with Cuba's private expansion policy following suit) and legally compelling "state-owned and collectively-owned enterprises ... to contain a Staff and Workers Representative Congress ... to supervise management and to co-determine or to veto certain management decisions" (Chan, 2005) – has subjected its workers to struggle against "planned lay-offs, bad working conditions, a despotic management, corruption and embezzlement."* Marc Blecher (2010) notes further that capitalism has even caused unemployment for millions of workers aside from losing "considerable power over the shop floor and material benefits", both of which they had under socialist China.

In their many broadcast and print interviews, "commodified" actors, musicians, and authors (i.e., those who have achieved fame, wealth, and power in the entertainment and literary worlds) often declare their "bliss" for engaging in something that they like to do and get amply rewarded for their "products": e.g., block-buster ticket and book sales, sold-out concerts, captured market niche (i.e., scores of fans), contract deals worth millions, etc. In his ethnographic blog as a movie worker, Brian Lee (2006) advises: "If you can enter the film industry for the love of the work instead of a need for money, you will have a great advantage over most of your competition."

There are corporate heads who enjoy the perks and big bucks given by their companies. Not a few employers bask in the autonomy and control they have over what they want to happen, when to do so, and how to go about it. In its two Happiness Indicator surveys** conducted this year, Jobcrystal identifies South African employees with managerial functions as "happier". Managing director Kevin Laithwaite thinks that such "happiness level is linked to how well these senior employees are regarded in the company and how much control, independence and decision making ability they have." Moreover, Jobcrystal says that in order for companies to retain topnotch employees, they need to help them meet "individual goals and requirements".

Thus, together with government leaders, employers across industries and countries who intend to navigate economic uncertainties need to consider creating workplaces where the welfare of employees is treated with utmost importance – and not just as operational cost.

Sources

Blecher, Marc. 2010. "Globalization, Structural Reform, and Labour Politics in China". Global Labor Journal. The Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress). (accessed October 21, 2010).

Chan, Anita. 2005. “Recent Trends in Chinese Labour Issues—Signs of Change”. China Perspectives. (accessed October 21, 2010).

Covert, Kim. 2010. Employee Stress Level Increasing: Survey. (accessed October 20, 2010).

Fortier, Julie. 2010. Canada a nation of 'satisfied' workers: Survey. Ottawa Citizen. (accessed October 20, 2010).

Lee, Brian. 2006. How to Break into the Film Industry. (accessed October 20, 2010).

O'Keefe, Ed and Davidson, Joe. 2010. Survey says: Federal workers are glad to have their jobs. The Washington Post. July 12. (accessed October 19, 2010).

Worland, Darragh. 2010. Top 5 Factors Affecting Job Satisfaction. (accessed October 21, 2010).

Other references:

* libcom.org's China: The generation of unhappy workers (2007) (accessed October 20, 2010).

** iafrica.com's Where's SA's happiest work and SA's best places to work (accessed October 20, 2010)


Written by Leann Zarah (leannzarah@gmail.com)

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