Get Me Out Of Here! Most Workers Regret Taking Their Job

no respect at workGiven the bad economy and poor job market most would think that people would be happy to have a job -- at least that's what our bosses and organizations tell us. Wondering whether this was the case, I recently asked AOL Jobs readers to share with me their feelings and attitudes toward their job and organization. The results are in and they are stunning.

Here are some of the highlights, or, should I say low points:

  • Over 50 percent of respondents regret having taken their job.
  • More than 70 percent of respondents would take another job tomorrow if they could.
  • 62 percent of those surveyed are actively seeking other employment opportunities.
  • 47 percent of people report that their job does not keep them engaged.
  • Less than 50 percent of respondents respect their supervisor or feel respected by them.
  • 42 percent of those surveyed do not believe in their organization or its future.

In addition, readers sent me hundreds of stories regarding their frustration and dissatisfaction. Here is one that falls into the category of "you can't make this stuff up."

"I worked for a hospital where my supervisor did not trust his employees to do their jobs correctly, did not believe anyone was honest and had so many rules put in place that it was impossible NOT to get fired. No one was allowed to get sick, even with a legitimate doctor's note. A woman went into labor during work and it was considered an unexcused absence."

Honestly, how is this behavior allowed to exist? It is as though in some organizations no one is at the helm when it comes to holding supervisors accountable for how they treat their employees. How could anyone do their best work under these circumstances? Here are a few more examples of poor behavior and the negative impact that it has on employee morale and engagement....

"I do payroll and was told by my supervisor to go talk to a few girls about their attire which was inappropriate for work. After doing a professional job, the CFO of the company had heard that I went to do my supervisor's job and told me that was not my position and to never do that again. 'Are you kidding?,' I was told by my supervisor, who praised the job I did, and made to feel like a child by the CFO, who talked to me like I was nothing."

"I did my job and cleaned up a mess left by another person and got in trouble for doing more than I was asked to do. My manager then asked me, like you would ask a 4 year old,"Now what would you do if you were me and you found an employee doing something they were not asked to do?" She was a b**** and I never went out of my way to do anything above and beyond at work ever again!"

"I made a suggestion on changing how an event should be run and was told: "That's not how it is in this town, darling."

"Just 2 days ago, I was told by my supervisor "not to get my panties in a wad." Great motivation!"

"My supervisor insulted me and told me that my brain was the size of a pea. Whenever something happens, he is NEVER at fault, it is ALWAYS my fault. I hate my job so much, I would quit right now if I could."

The Impact

To say that people are dissatisfied, discouraged and disconnected would clearly be an understatement. During better economic times and a healthier job market dissatisfied employees were able to find other employment opportunities. For many people, such opportunities simply do not exist. As a result, tens of millions of Americans are in jobs they don't want to be in. Along with dissatisfaction often comes stress, which in turn affects employees' physical and psychological well-being and, consequently, negatively impacts their families. The situation is much graver than employees simply not liking their jobs.

Employees and their families are not the only ones who suffer. How could an organization possibly thrive when 50 percent of their employees regret having taken their job and 62 percent are actively looking for other work? Employee dissatisfaction and disengagement leads to lower levels of productivity, quality and customer service, and to higher rates of absenteeism, tardiness and employee theft. Organizational leaders need to wake up and realize that their bottom line is directly tied to employee satisfaction and engagement.

The Answer

As grave as the situation is, the solution is not terribly complicated. If you examine organizations with high levels of employee satisfaction and engagement, they all have one thing in common: They treat their employees with RESPECT. There is no more powerful way to create a committed and dedicated workforce then by treating every employee with respect. I have never met a person who didn't care about being respected or who, when disrespected, didn't disengage.

Over the past decade of researching, consulting and presenting on the relationship between respect and employee satisfaction, motivation and engagement, my biggest surprise has been how ignorant supervisors, managers and organizational leaders are when it comes to how to demonstrate respect to their employees. People get the importance of respect but don't get how to actually show it on a daily basis. Hence, the reason for me creating the RESPECT Model and writing "Carrots and Sticks Don't Work." Below are the seven key drivers that supervisors and managers can use to show respect to their employees:

  1. Recognition – at the most basic level, we all fundamentally just want to be recognized and acknowledged for the contributions we make.
  2. Empowerment – providing employees with the training and resources, including communication that they need to be successful.
  3. Supportive feedback – the primary job of the supervisor/manager is to provide ongoing coaching and mentoring to his/her employees; not doing so sends the message that an employee is not valued.
  4. Partnering – developing a collaborative working relationship first within one's team and then across departments.
  5. Expectations – providing employees with clear goals and objectives, and holding employees who fail to meet expectations accountable.
  6. Consideration – consistently demonstrating care and consideration to individual team members.
  7. Trust – acting in ways that build a culture of trust which serves as the basis for both personal and professional relationships.


The United States is in a state of crisis when it comes to employee morale and satisfaction. The result is a highly disgruntled and stressed-out workforce who cannot possibly be engaged and maximally productive. While the impact on both individuals and organizations is immense, there exists a simple, low-cost solution, namely, training supervisors, managers, and organizational leaders to act in ways that leave employees feeling respected -- doing so is not only the right thing to do, it is also the profitable thing to do.

For more detailed results from the study, please email me. If you want to know more about how to create a culture of RESPECT in your workplace, please visit my website.

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Thank you for recognizing this terrible retention issue in the US.

I grow so tire of hearing, “Oh , you should be thankful to have a job.” All the while, people are suffering mentally and phycially because of poor job satisfaction. Thank you Dr. Marciano

February 01 2013 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This article was written over a year ago and guess what? Nothing has changed! I work for a business owner who is sexist, racist, demeaning, and anything else negative you can think of to describe a jerk. I've been here two years and during those two years I've seen 6 people get up and walk out of the office never to return. He's asked girls here if they got their outfit at, "***** R Us" even when they're wearing slacks and a blouse. When he interviews people, he talks down to them and then wonders why they say they're no longer interested in working here. He NEVER EVER does anything wrong! It's ALWAYS someone else's fault. He once told me he wanted to send a book to this person. I contacted them and asked for their address so that I could send the book, when I told him I got the address he said, "I wish you hadn't done that." WHAT?!? Did he think I was going to send the book out into space and hope it arrived at her address? Every other word out of his mouth is a curse word, he's even called our IT guy a Mother...well, you get the idea. I've been applying to other jobs and even had a few interviews recently and each and every interviewer has said, "You wouldn't believe the number of resumes we got for this position!" This job has taken a physical and mental toll on me...but I'm stuck until I get my foot in the door somewhere else. I'm sure this post reads like a crazy person wrote it, but this job has scrambled my brain.

October 10 2012 at 4:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Randy Furco

Employers and CEOs just don’t get it. It is a joke that most companies now are offering less than 10 bucks and hour for labor jobs. No adult should have to work for less than 12 bucks an hour to do a job a teenager can't.

To offer less than 10.00 is a slap in the face to the American Labor worker. And those of you that were in a position to get a degree, and are less of a laborer, no longer can you say to the laborer: "You should have got a degree", because more and more , that 4 year degree is getting you 10-12 bucks and hour also.

There is coming a day of reckoning for American businesses. Eventually front line employees will get smart, and go on a general strike.

Want to pay the person doing all your grunt work peanuts so the rich can get richer??

Have you ever seen what happens in Canada when the garbage men get disrespected, and treated like second class men and woman...They stop picking up garbage in the major cities. Doesn’t take long for them to teach the pencil pushers a lesson.

What it is about is, respect for every form of hard work. Again, if you are so much better than the laborer that is working the warehouse, or installing your product, or working the register selling your product, or taking out your trash...

Then what you really need is a reality check. What you need is for all those workers to leave and show you just how valuable they are. It should not be that a couple people at the top of the Company Structure get paid enough to live in luxury, while those "under" them, struggle to get by.

I know, many of you are thinking, that is what unions were for, well not anymore. Some fo you are thinking, that is a socialist idea. Well??? I don’t know. That is THE LIE that the super rich and those who control most of the stock market want you to think....Because you see..If labor is cheap, and the money isn't going into the workers pockets...Then guess whose pockets it is going into???

Ford,GM,Chrystler,GE.....Textiles...etc....etc....etc..Didn't seem to have trouble for over a century causing great prosperity to come to America??

Hmm..what changed??? What took place, that took all those jobs away from American workers...Destroyed the workplace for American workers and transferred great wealth from America and Her WORKERS...into the hands of a few??

Those few, get richer and richer. They thrive off of your ignorance. They have mastered the media, to cause distraction from the truth. They have mastered divide and conquer. They have caused The American people to believe that somehow the fact that every major manufacturer of goods we use every day, has moved their operations out of cities and towns all across America, and into nations that, have virtually no labor laws that protect workers....Did you get that??

Will we ever get them back?? Nope. The End.

March 12 2012 at 4:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
FranNet of Arizona

As bad as this article paints happiness in the workplace, the broader situation is even worse.

According to a DDB Needham Life Style Survey American's overall happiness plummeted from 1985 to 2005.

"To explain the widespread decline in happiness, Herbst finds that Americans have become increasingly detached from friends and family, participated in fewer civic and social activities, and expressed greater mistrust over political and economic institutions over the past few decades. These societal changes are important because, according to Robert Putnam’s 2000 book "Bowling Alone," communal activities tend to improve what is known as “social capital” and thus increase individual happiness."

The beginning of this slide coincides with the Tsunami of corporate downsizing and outsourcing that has swept over our economy during the past 25 years. American worker productivity has been up strongly over these 25 years. If you are still employed then you are now doing the work of 2 from 25 years ago. Work hours are dramatically increased leaving little time for work-life balance. Good-bye family time. Thanks to smart phones employees can now work 24/7/365 for no more pay. Big business long ago scrapped company picnics, retirement parties, X-mas parties, etc. There's no time for social interaction on the job or at home ... if you still work for corporate America.

One of the only paths to life-work balance left is to own your own business. Small businesses are 'light' on medical and retirement benefits but can be GREAT places for flexible hours, incentive pay and a sense of community.

Would you be a great boss?

My firm offers a no cost assessment to measure your fit to business ownership.

If you don't follow your dream you end up working for someone following theirs. ... Nothing to lose but your unhappiness!


Kent Craven
602 224 - 9333

October 13 2011 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I recently quit my job b/c of my boss. At first I though it was me, but then he fired (FIRED A GS?) my replacement. Now he's re-writing my old position description so he can hire a more obedient suck up from the office.

September 26 2011 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really like my job, however my supervisor tells me "you ask dumb questions" are they trying to make me not like my job and if I didn't ask the question I’m dumb for not asking WTF. I waited for years to get this job and now I’m starting regret taking it. It’s really sad. I think its lack of management classes. Management seems to run amuck a lot of times.

August 31 2011 at 2:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


August 31 2011 at 2:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This article is kinda rite on target. I used to work for me too in cedar rapids iowa in the 70`s, I was the best employee that me too ever had, then al came along about late 79. He took that place rite to hell, no 1 could ever do anything right except for the people HE hired, every 1 else was considered disloyal by him. He finally said I was making to much for what I did and said there's the door. I had the last laugh though when he got fired & the whole place closed, GOOD riddance to them all. & fired for sexual harassment too lol lol.

August 31 2011 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Employees have little to no rights and employers are allowed to get by with everything short of murder. Staff is pared down to less than minimum and the ones left have to do double-duty to make the business run even somewhat smoothly. Owners and management are allowed to belittle, threaten and humiliate employees with no thought to morals or ethics. The general consensus among owners and management these days is that if you don't like it, there's the door! When I was laid off it was such a relief and weight off my shoulders - I sleep through the night and don't wake up worried that I'd forgotten something, my 2nd shift staff doesn't call late at night, I don't have to worry about filling in at 3 other departments when they are out sick or on vacation (I was a manager of my own department and had it to run also). I don't get blamed for mistakes made by inept employees, the owners who live 700 miles away aren't calling all the time telling everyone how to run the company even though they weren't around. Other than not making enough to live on (my husband finally got a job after 2 1/4 years so we're still trying to get bills caught up), the relief has been wonderful!

August 31 2011 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Only 63 percent of men have a job (some are just minimal), and so employers can pick and choose;and they will. We are now competing with the WORLD, and China will take us over in a business manner, not
guns and bombs. We are falling apart as a first world country, since our private sector is barely holding on. How does a high school graduate here in the USA compete with the college grad from Asia? or somewhere else? Our streets and transportation highways are not up to standard, our airplanes are getting old, etc. The middle class is just trying to hold on. Where are the jobs for our college grads? The old generation is still working in order to survive. This is not the American "Dream". We are heading towards being a third world country, as I notice that there are many places in the world now, that live
at a higher standard, and can achieve with success. We have a beautiful country, with resources, and people willing to work, but we falling behind.

August 31 2011 at 12:30 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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