What a waste: wasted work, wasted careers, wasted lives

mm Bill Pace

Gallup published a study a couple of years ago that estimated the lost productivity related to people being unhappy and disengaged in their work at between $450 and $550 billion. (Yes, billion!) Based upon World Bank estimates, the top of this range is larger than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all but the largest 20 countries in the world. Larger than Argentina (#21)! Larger than Sweden (#22)! Larger that the next 189 countries!

So if we could form the state of “Happy and Productive Workers” and recoup all that productivity loss, we’d have the 21st largest economy in the world. All we’d need to do is figure out why people are so unhappy at work and then fix it. Easy, right?

There are a myriad of factors that cause people to be unhappy in their jobs. Sometimes the work is just really hard. Sometimes bosses are jerks. Sometimes organizations have cultures that are negative and demeaning. Sometimes the work is so boring and it turns brains to jelly. Lots of reasons and often more than one.

We know, however, that one big contributing factor is that people are in the WRONG JOBS. Sometimes people take a job that they hate immediately (usually due to haste or desperation in making the decision) but feel stuck for one reason or another. Sometimes people initially like their work, but something happens (a new boss, a new owner, a new assignment, etc.) that changes things for the worse. Sometimes people just get tired of doing the same work for an extended period of time.

We also know that figuring out and finding the RIGHT JOB is doable for most people. It’s not easy. It takes time and work. But it can do done. How? For some ideas, check out our other blogs for our perspectives. You can also check out other content we have posted on ClearlyNext’s LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

We can’t say how much of the $550 billion in productivity loss will be reduced if you find work you like and are engaged in. But we do know that you will be happier and that the world will be a better place.

Now, if we could just get the other 100+ million unhappy workers in the U.S on track, we could think about starting that new country.

Bill Pace is Managing Director of ClearlyNext, a guided online career program that helps people of all backgrounds and incomes figure out what to do next. Read more >