Top 4 Indicators of Work Dissatisfaction. You Feel It?

May 20, 2020


COVID-19 Season is Turning Into Career Reassessment Season

Sam was about to turn 40 – common time to review life, career, and marriage. To add to the drama, COVID-19 was hitting. Then there was work at home with many changes… and then coping. You have heard of many stories like this one.

However, Sam did not want to get into a victim mentality! He wanted to do something about it. He did not want to tough it out anymore. He wanted direction, answers, and a vision of a fulfilling career. His dissatisfaction at work was impacting other important parts of his life, and that was not fair to his wife, children nor himself. Something had to change, but he did not know what his next step should be! We have done some research to find out more about what is going on to help with that most important next step.


Career Assessment Research Results

 We have been collecting and will continue to collect data on workers’ reasons and indications of dissatisfaction at work. The population analyzed is made up of people who identify as dissatisfied, more on the affluent side, and mostly Christians. We already know from two studies that 13%-30% of people are not engaged at work. Of these people, we want to know what they are most looking for in a job or what indications they have that they need to change careers or jobs. Of the fourteen possibilities studied, the preliminary results indicate the following top four.


Items Tied for #3

An article published in the Harvard Business Review some years ago indicated that the #1 motivator in our jobs is making progress in meaningful work. Our results agree. Tied at #3 is the complaint that, “I clearly am not making progress in meaningful work.” People want to have an impact in work and on others, especially our younger workers. So, when the #1 motivator is not happening, it often turns into the #1 de-motivator.

The other item tied for third is more in the emotional indication category. When asked how often people daydream about a new career or job, the most popular answer by far is “Consistently”. People are finding themselves pondering a different future. In a healthy way, they are trying to imagine a fulfilling vision to be able to leave the status quo. Being in this state is distracting, energy-sucking, and unhealthy. The sub-conscious is telling you that it is time for change.


Item #2

Runner-up to the top score is that people want to have a fulfilling career and job. The Merriam-Webster definition of work fulfillment is, “the act or process of developing the full potentialities of one’s work or job.” Two other related areas exhibiting dissatisfaction were the extent to which people have a clear path to promotion or a personal developmental plan. All of this boils up to a sensation of, “I’m not fulfilled now, and I see no interest in or path for me to achieve fulfillment.” This issue is so easy to fix, but management seems to be failing in this area.


Item #1

Leading the way by far as the #1 indication that changing the status quo is necessary is how people feel when they wake up in the morning on a workday. Their stated desire is to be enthusiastic about going to work. We would expect a high score on this item if the sample set is dissatisfied workers. However, there is something else at play here.

We have an aptitude or coping mechanism around rationalizing stuff, especially people who are thinkers versus feelers in a Myers-Briggs testing sense. One of my client red flags is when they say, “Well, (pause) I think I can do that.” STOP!! It is not about whether one can tolerate a bad culture at work, job, etc. It is about DO we want to tolerate a bad culture at work or change to a healthy, inspiring, and supportive one.

I tell my clients, pay attention to your bodies. Our bodies tell us things more quickly, honestly, and truthfully than our brain does. The bodies of our respondents are telling them that they are not enthusiastic due to the absence of happiness, fulfillment, advancement, and other positive emotions. If you are interested, here is a Fast Company article that shows us where in the body we feel various emotions.



There are many workers feeling dissatisfied in their work. Most of it is due to people not developing and using the aptitudes that God has given them to make meaningful impact. Our self-awareness is not where it needs to be, especially for those who have been told by parents that they can be anything they want to be. That statement is a tragic lie, and I said it more than once to my children. OUCH!

Also, management needs to be better at the hiring process to make sure people are in the right seats on the bus per Jim Collins author of Good to Great. Fortunately, there is now better science out there to help workers and employers do much better at matching a candidates’ aptitudes, personality, team roles, potential assessment, and more to what is required in a specific career and career path.

Imagine what this world would be like if many more than 13%-30% of the workers were in careers for which the Lord had designed them to be a bright light for His glory. You can be part of that group.

Charlie Haines 

Many Christians are experiencing frustration in their jobs or struggling to choose the right college major. At Unstatus Your Quo®, we provide Career Assessments and Coaching to help Christians discover their most fulfilling career.