As we approach another Labor Day it’s actually depressing how many people dread going to work. I’ve ready many different statistics some saying as much as 90% of people are unhappy with their job. Since we spend a significant part of our adult life working, this means that most people will spend a good deal of time unhappy or uninspired in their career. I have a hard time getting my head wrapped around this issue. Why would either party to the relationship accept this reality? I guess that is why individuals change jobs so frequently these days. They are searching for something the data says they have little chance of ever finding.
Leaders have to be careful about becoming too close to their employees. It is easy to get wrapped up in someone else’s personal life especially if you’ve know someone for a long time. There is a big difference between being a friend and being an employer or boss. The nature of the employer-employee realtionship is transactional – people are paid to do a job. Without the exchange of time for money the relationship probably wouldn’t exist. Moreover, it is much more difficult to hold a friend accountable or if necessary fire them.
What made American industry great was that we had a solid albeit often informal contract between employer and employee. If you show up, put in your dues and do a good job, we will take care of you economically and provide a sense of security around your professional and personal well being. Hang in there and stay the course and there will be opportunities for advancement. We will also create a safety net to catch you when you fall and/or have to deal with challenging life issues. The overarching theme being that we are all in this together and should make the best of it. It is also why we created the largest middle class ever known to mankind and put great distance between ourselves and other economies in the world.