Why Is Everyone So Unhappy at Work Right Now?
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,635,570 (+0.09%)       Melbourne $990,779 (-0.14%)       Brisbane $1,002,534 (+0.89%)       Adelaide $899,189 (+1.63%)       Perth $853,385 (-0.01%)       Hobart $727,599 (-0.08%)       Darwin $665,330 (-2.24%)       Canberra $1,030,329 (+2.00%)       National $1,054,780 (+0.44%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $758,114 (+0.56%)       Melbourne $494,774 (+0.21%)       Brisbane $562,776 (+0.42%)       Adelaide $448,109 (+2.19%)       Perth $451,267 (-0.77%)       Hobart $504,603 (-1.31%)       Darwin $357,621 (+2.79%)       Canberra $496,414 (-0.41%)       National $532,600 (+0.26%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,429 (+70)       Melbourne 14,915 (+41)       Brisbane 7,933 (-18)       Adelaide 2,089 (-116)       Perth 5,787 (-101)       Hobart 1,241 (+4)       Darwin 244 (-2)       Canberra 988 (+18)       National 43,626 (-104)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,586 (+58)       Melbourne 8,221 (+87)       Brisbane 1,635 (+21)       Adelaide 372 (-9)       Perth 1,517 (-36)       Hobart 198 (-10)       Darwin 404 (-2)       Canberra 1,028 (+31)       National 21,961 (+140)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $820 (+$3)       Melbourne $600 (-$5)       Brisbane $650 ($0)       Adelaide $600 ($0)       Perth $680 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $750 ($0)       Canberra $680 (+$10)       National $676 (+$1)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $760 (-$10)       Melbourne $595 (-$5)       Brisbane $640 (-$3)       Adelaide $500 (+$5)       Perth $620 ($0)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $540 (-$10)       Canberra $550 (-$10)       National $596 (-$5)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,832 (+125)       Melbourne 6,113 (+155)       Brisbane 4,426 (+39)       Adelaide 1,506 (+63)       Perth 2,727 (+138)       Hobart 431 (+13)       Darwin 95 (-3)       Canberra 602 (+6)       National 21,732 (+536)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,046 (+377)       Melbourne 6,071 (+301)       Brisbane 2,272 (+28)       Adelaide 373 (+1)       Perth 740 (-4)       Hobart 143 (+14)       Darwin 136 (+6)       Canberra 746 (+30)       National 20,527 (+753)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.61% (↑)        Melbourne 3.15% (↓)       Brisbane 3.37% (↓)       Adelaide 3.47% (↓)     Perth 4.14% (↑)      Hobart 3.93% (↑)      Darwin 5.86% (↑)        Canberra 3.43% (↓)       National 3.33% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.21% (↓)       Melbourne 6.25% (↓)       Brisbane 5.91% (↓)       Adelaide 5.80% (↓)     Perth 7.14% (↑)      Hobart 4.64% (↑)        Darwin 7.85% (↓)       Canberra 5.76% (↓)       National 5.81% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.8% (↑)      Melbourne 0.7% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 0.9% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.0% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.1% (↑)      Brisbane 1.0% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 0.5% (↑)      Hobart 1.4% (↑)      Darwin 1.7% (↑)      Canberra 1.4% (↑)      National 1.1% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 28.9 (↓)     Melbourne 30.3 (↑)        Brisbane 30.8 (↓)       Adelaide 25.4 (↓)     Perth 36.1 (↑)      Hobart 37.8 (↑)      Darwin 35.1 (↑)        Canberra 28.5 (↓)     National 31.6 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 29.6 (↓)       Melbourne 30.2 (↓)     Brisbane 29.6 (↑)        Adelaide 25.4 (↓)     Perth 38.3 (↑)      Hobart 30.1 (↑)        Darwin 46.7 (↓)       Canberra 38.0 (↓)     National 33.5 (↑)            
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Why Is Everyone So Unhappy at Work Right Now?

U.S. employees are more dissatisfied than they were in the thick of the pandemic

By VANESSA FUHRMANS
Wed, Nov 29, 2023 8:34amGrey Clock 5 min

Americans, by many measures, are unhappier at work than they have been in years.

Despite wage increases, more paid time off and greater control over where they work, the number of U.S. workers who say they are angry, stressed and disengaged is climbing, according to Gallup’s 2023 workplace report. Meanwhile, a BambooHR analysis of data from more than 57,000 workers shows job-satisfaction scores have fallen to their lowest point since early 2020, after a 10% drop this year alone.

In interviews with workers around the country, it is clear the unhappiness is part of a rethinking of work life that began in 2020. The sources of workers’ discontent range from inflation, which is erasing much of recent pay gains, to the still-unsettled nature of the workday. People chafe against being micromanaged back to offices, yet they also find isolating aspects of hybrid and remote work. A cooling job market—especially in white-collar roles—is leaving many professionals feeling stuck.

Companies have largely moved on from pandemic operating mode, cutting costs and renewing a focus on productivity. The disconnect with workers has managers frustrated, and no quick fix seems to be at hand. Those in charge said they have given staff more money, flexibility and support, only to come up short.

The experiences of workers like Lindsey Leesmann suggest how expectations have shifted from just a few years ago. Leesmann, 38 years old, said she soured on a philanthropy job after having to return to the office two days a week earlier this year.

Prepandemic, she would have been happy working three days a week at home. “It would have been a dream come true.” Still, her team’s in-office requirements seemed like going backward, and made her feel that her professionalism and work quality were in doubt. Instead of collaborating more, she and others rarely left their desks, except for meetings or lunch, she said. Negative feelings followed her home on her hourlong commute, leaving her short-tempered with her kids.

“You try to keep work and home separate, but that sort of stuff is just impacting your mental health so much,” said Leesmann, who recently moved to a new job that requires five in-office days a month.

No more honeymoon

The discontent has business leaders struggling for answers, said Stephan Scholl, chief executive of Alight Solutions, a technology company focused on benefits and payroll administration. Many of the Fortune 100 companies on Alight’s client list boosted spending on employee benefits such as mental health, child care and well-being bonuses by 20% over the pandemic years.

“All that extra spend has not translated into happier employees,” Scholl said. In an Alight survey of 2,000 U.S. employees this year, 34% said they often dread starting their workday—an 11-percentage-point rise since 2020. Corporate clients have told him mental-health claims and costs from employee turnover are rising.

One factor is the share of workers who are relatively new to their roles after record levels of job-switching, said Benjamin Granger, chief workplace psychologist at software company Qualtrics. Many employers have focused more on hiring than situating new employees well, leaving many newbies feeling adrift. In other cases, workers discovered shiny-seeming new jobs weren’t a great fit.

The upshot is that the newest workers are among the least satisfied, Qualtrics data show—a reversal of the higher levels of enthusiasm that fresh hires typically voice. In its study of nearly 37,000 workers published last month, people less than six months into a job reported lower levels of engagement, feelings of inclusion and intent to stay than longer-tenured workers. They also scored lower on those metrics than new workers in 2022, suggesting the pay raises that lured many people to new jobs might not be as satisfying as they were a year or two ago.

“What happened to that honeymoon phase?” Granger said.

John Shurr, a 66-year-old former manufacturing engineer, took a job as an inventory manager at a heavy-equipment retailer in the spring in Missoula, Mont., after being laid off during the pandemic.

“It was a nice job title on a pretty rotten job,” said Shurr, who learned soon after starting that his duties would also include sales to walk-in customers.

When Shurr broached the subject, his boss asked him to give it a chance and said he was really needed on the showroom floor. Shurr, who describes himself as more of a computer guy, quit about a month later.

“I feel kind of trapped at the moment,” said Shurr, who has since taken a part-time job as a parts manager as he tries to find full-time work.

Bridging the distance

Long-distance relationships between bosses and staff might also be an issue. Nearly a third of workers at large firms don’t work in the same metro area as their managers, up from about 23% in February 2020, according to data from payroll provider ADP.

Distance has weakened ties among co-workers and heightened conflict, said Moshe Cohen, a mediator and negotiation coach who teaches conflict resolution at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. He has noticed more employees calling co-workers or bosses toxic or impossible, signs that trust is thin.

Cohen’s corporate clients said their employees are increasingly transactional with one another. Some are coaching workers in the finer points of dialogue, such as saying hello first before jumping into the substance of a conversation.

“The idea of slowing down, taking the time, being genuine, trying to actually establish some sort of connection with the other person—that’s really missing,” Cohen said.

One Los Angeles-based consultant in his 20s, who asked to remain anonymous because he is seeking another job, said that when he started his job at a large company last year, his largely remote colleagues were focused on their own work, unwilling to show a new hire the ropes or invite him for coffee. Many leave cameras off for video calls and few people show up at the office, making it hard to build relationships.

“There’s zero humanity,” he said, noting that he is seeking another job with a strong office culture.

The share of U.S. companies mandating office attendance five days a week has fallen this year—to 38% in October from 49% at the start of the year—according to Scoop Technologies, a software firm that developed an index to monitor workplace policies of nearly 4,500 companies.

Some companies have reversed flexible remote-work policies—in large part, they said, to boost employee engagement and productivity—only to face worker backlash.

Not all the data point downward. A Conference Board survey in November 2022 of U.S. adults showed workers were more satisfied with their jobs than they had been in years. Key contingents among the happiest employees: people who voluntarily switched roles during the pandemic and those working a mix of in-person and remote days. But that poll was taken before a spate of layoffs at high-profile companies and big declines in the number of knowledge-worker and professional jobs advertised.

At Farmers Group, workers posted thousands of mostly negative comments on the insurer’s internal social-media platform after its new CEO nixed the company’s previous policy allowing most workers to be remote.

Employees like Kandy Mimande said they felt betrayed. “We couldn’t get the ‘why,’” said the 43-year-old, who had sold her car and spent thousands of dollars to redo her home office under the remote-work policy. She shelled out $10,000 for a used car for the commute. A company spokesperson said that not all employees will support every business decision and that Farmers hasn’t seen a significant impact on staff retention.

During a brief leave, Mimande realised she no longer felt a sense of purpose from her product-management job. She resigned last month after she and her wife decided they could live on one salary.

She now helps promote a band and pet-sits. “It’s so much easier for me to report to myself,” she said.



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A Killer Golf Swing Is a Hot Job Skill Now

Companies are eager to hire strong players who use hybrid work schedules to schmooze clients on the course

By CALLUM BORCHERS
Fri, Jun 14, 2024 5 min

Standout golfers who aren’t quite PGA Tour material now have somewhere else to play professionally: Corporate America.

People who can smash 300-yard drives and sink birdie putts are sought-after hires in finance, consulting, sales and other industries, recruiters say. In the hybrid work era, the business golf outing is back in a big way.

Executive recruiter Shawn Cole says he gets so many requests to find ace golfers that he records candidates’ handicaps, an index based on average number of strokes over par, in the information packets he submits to clients. Golf alone can’t get you a plum job, he says—but not playing could cost you one.

“I know a guy that literally flies around the world in a private jet loaded with French wine, and he golfs and lands hundred-million-dollar deals,” Cole says.

Tee times and networking sessions have long gone hand-in-golf-glove. Despite criticism that doing business on the course undermines diversity, equity and inclusion efforts—and the fact that golf clubs haven’t always been open to women and minorities —people who mix golf and work say the outings are one of the last reprieves from 30-minute calendar blocks

Stars like Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie West helped expand participation in the sport. Still, just 22% of golfers are nonwhite and 26% are women, according to the National Golf Foundation.

To lure more people, clubs have relaxed rules against mobile-phone use on the course, embracing white-collar professionals who want to entertain clients on the links without disconnecting from the office. It’s no longer taboo to check email from your cart or take a quick call at the halfway turn.

With so much other business conducted virtually, shaking hands on the green and schmoozing over clubhouse beers is now seen as making an extra effort, not slacking off.

Americans played a record 531 million rounds last year. Weekday play has nearly doubled since 2019, with much of the action during business hours , according to research by Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom .

“It would’ve been scandalous in 2019 to be having multiple meetings a week on the golf course,” Bloom says. “In 2024, if you’re producing results, no one’s going to see anything wrong with it.”

A financial adviser at a major Wall Street bank who competes on the amateur circuit told me he completes 90% of his tasks by 10 a.m. because he manages long-term investment plans that change infrequently. The rest of his workday often involves golfing with clients and prospects. He’s a member of a private club with a multiyear waiting list, and people jump at the chance to join him on a course they normally can’t access.

There is an art to bringing in business this way. He never initiates shoptalk, telling his playing partners the round is about having fun and getting to know each other. They can’t resist asking about investment strategies by the back nine, he says.

Work hard, play hard

Matt Parziale golfed professionally on minor-league tours for several years, but when his dream of making the big time ended, he had to get a regular job. He became a firefighter, like his dad.

A few years later he won one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the country, earning spots in the 2018 Masters and U.S. Open, where he tied for first among non-pros.

The brush with celebrity brought introductions to business types that Parziale, 35 years old, says he wouldn’t have met otherwise. One connection led to a job with a large insurance broker. In 2022 he jumped to Deland, Gibson Insurance Associates in Wellesley, Mass., which recognised his golf game as a tool to help win large accounts.

He rescheduled our interview because he was hosting clients at a private club on Cape Cod, and squeezed me in the next morning, before teeing off with a business group in Newport, R.I.

A short time ago, Parziale couldn’t imagine making a living this way. Now he’s the norm in elite amateur golf circles.

“I look around at the guys at the events I play, and they all have these jobs ,” he says.

His boss, Chief Executive Chip Gibson, says Parziale is good at bringing in business because he puts as much effort into building relationships as honing his game. A golf outing is merely an opportunity to build trust that can eventually lead to a deal, and it’s a misconception that people who golf during work hours don’t work hard, he says.

Barry Allison’s single-digit handicap is an asset in his role as a management consultant at Accenture , where he specialises in travel and hospitality. He splits time between Washington, D.C., and The Villages, Fla., a golf mecca that boasts more than 50 courses.

It can be hard to get to know people in distributed work environments, he says. Go golfing and you’ll learn a lot about someone’s temperament—especially after a bad shot.

“If you see a guy snap a club over his knee, you don’t know what he’s going to snap next,” Allison says.

Special access

On a recent afternoon I was a lunch guest at Brae Burn Country Club, a private enclave outside Boston that was the site of U.S. Golf Association championships won by legends like Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. I parked in the second lot because the first one was full—on a Wednesday.

My host was Cullen Onstott, managing director of the Onstott Group executive search firm and a former collegiate golfer at Fairfield University. He explained one reason companies prize excellent golfers is they can put well-practiced swings on autopilot and devote most of their attention to chitchat.

It’s hard to talk with potential customers about their needs and interests when you’re hunting for errant shots in the woods. It’s also challenging if you show off.

The first hole at Brae Burn is a 318-yard par 4 that slopes down, enabling big hitters like Onstott to reach the putting green in a single stroke. But to stay close to his playing partners and keep the conversation flowing, he sometimes hits a shorter shot.

Having an “in” at an exclusive club can make you a catch. Bo Burch, an executive recruiter in North Carolina, says clubs in his region tend to attract members according to their business sectors. One might be chock-full of real-estate investors while another has potential buyers of industrial manufacturing equipment.

Burch looks for candidates who are members of clubs that align with his clients’ industries, though he stresses that business acumen comes first when filling positions.

Tami McQueen, a former Division I tennis player and current chief marketing officer at Atlanta investment firm BIP Capital, signed up for private golf lessons this year. She had noticed colleagues were wearing polos with course logos and bringing their clubs to work. She wanted in.

McQueen joined business associates on the golf course for the first time in March at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. She has lowered her handicap to a respectable 26 and says her new skill lends a professional edge.

“To be able to say, ‘I can play with you and we can have those business meetings on the course’ definitely opens a lot more doors,” she says.

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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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