Satisfaction has become the most elusive commodity for most people employed in high-paid white collar jobs. Companies have been spending millions of dollars on initiatives focused on retaining its employees or improving employee satisfaction scores, all to no avail.
What is the core of the issue? Is it because employees are underpaid? No, technology, sales and finance jobs were never more rewarding than now. Is it because employees are not given responsibilities? No, people take on massive responsibilities very early in their careers. Is it because there are overworked? Absolutely no, people are addicted to work and are willing to work non-stop when the need arises. On the contrary, most dissatisfaction stems up when they are underworked. Are bad bosses driving people crazy? No, many people are dissatisfied in spite of excellent rapport with their bosses.
Why then, these endless waves of exasperation? Why then, all this blogging and online community networking, while at work? Why then, the continuous monitoring of the clock, which seems to be ever so slow?
What is it that the modern day educated smart workers want? Did not our parents do the same monotonous jobs for ages without complaining (even if they did complain, without ever thinking of quiting at all)? My mother has been a cashier for 35 years and if she had earned a percent of what she has counted in all her life, I would never have had to work. Can’t we still see so many other people, not privileged to be so educated, toiling in their jobs without ever bothering to complain – like the traffic policeman, lift operator, cab driver, bus conductor and all others involved in hard physical labour? What makes our young educated generation so special that we are perpetualy dissatisfied?
If you were looking for well researched answers at the end of all my questions, I dont have any. If I believe in fate, I would have simply concluded that this generation of educated youth is doomed to be dissatisfied. I dont believe and I can only speculate about the answers.
One glaring aspect in modern corporate culture, is the complete lack of emotional attachment with the company. Companies which have managed to instill a sense of purpose, pride and emotional bonding have succeeded in creating a conducive environment for people to enjoy their work. Once I visited Taj Lake Palace at Udaipur and everyone there, from the receptionist to the sweeper, was wishing me and greeting me, with a broad natural smile, even when no supervisor was in sight.
Very few have managed to do this and most companies do not even attempt to create an emotionally charged workplace. They try to appease their employees by offering more money, better infrastructure, overseas trips and friendly policies without ever touching that emotional chord. I believe that this emotional vacuum is what sucks employees into the endless cycle of discontent. They quit and move to another place which offers them even more money, still better infrastructure or posts them abroad. The result is the same. The same vicious waves of dissatisfaction.
The next challenge to the capitalist society is not going to come from the proleteriat-bourgeoisie class divide (it is difficult to tell the difference between the two now) but from the inherent, seemingly purposeless discontent simmering among the educated youth.