The 214M problem of work

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This won’t be a long post, because I’m not an economist or anything. In fact, I got a B-Minus in AP Econ, got a C in Macro in college, and once left an ‘Economics Camp’ (getting an idea of my childhood now?) because kids were teasing me. So I’m no expert here. I won’t belabor this.

But last night, I get stranded in Atlanta and have to post up at the Hilton by the airport. They’ve got two bars in this spot — sports bar and a kind of classier bar. I checked out both. (Naturally.) Each one has staff. We’re talking kitchen, bartenders, bar-backs, etc. I’d guess each restaurant/bar has 12 people working in it, so maybe 24 total.

I can’t imagine any of these people are making six figures if we’re being logical. It’s all tip-driven, service industry stuff. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s a pretty big chunk of the economy.

So I’m sitting there, getting drunk because I’m pissed about my cancelled flight, and I kept coming back to this one idea/concept.

I’m an elitist prick who grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and went to private schools, sure. But I can’t imagine that anyone, even when they’re younger, says to their parents/friends “I want to bartend at an airport Hilton when I’m older.” I just doubt that sentence gets said a lot.

Now we need to think on the whole idea of “employment” for a second.

Read this on Gallup this morning

It makes the argument that “real” global unemployment is 33%, not 6% as often reported. Sad/interesting.

Down near the bottom, they define the idea of a “great job” as:

People who are engaged at work or, in other words, have a “great job,” can do what they do best, have the equipment to do their jobs effectively, and have a strong sense of mission and purpose in their work.

OK. Interestingly I’d say a lot of white-collar workers don’t have these things, but let’s gloss that over for a second.

What percentage of the world is achieving said “great job” status?

Gallup asked our engagement questions worldwide and found that between 2015 and 2016, out of the 1.4 billion adults who have good jobs, roughly 16% are engaged. Out of a global workforce of an estimated 3.3 billion adults who are working or looking for work, then, only 7% or 214 million people have a great job. This means about 3 billion people who want a great job don’t have one.

The dream of men and women around the world is to have a good job and, ultimately, a great job. Yet only 214 million people are realizing this dream.

So… we’re achieving the employment goal of society at about a 7% clip, and that’s somehow acceptable?

Are we “entitled” to love our jobs?

Nope. Some jobs are great. Many are terrible. We all know the basic reasons: unclear priorities, horrible management, yada yada yada. We’ve been there. Read this blog even once and you’ll see some examples.

So we’re not entitled to love our jobs, no … but the problem is that increasingly, people are spending more and more time at work — and that’s across the globe, and across different industries.

That’s more and more time at a place where only 7% are essentially content.

I’m not going to fix this problem in this post (I don’t think I even can), but does anyone see how this is an issue?

We can’t solve it by fixing world markets, because money needs to flow in those societies that are capitalist. That necessitates a world where some make a lot and some make a little. It kind of is a “bell curve,” even if we don’t want to admit that.

We can’t necessarily fix management, either. We’ve been trying to do that for decades, and have consultants and thought leaders galore. Managers still suck. Leaders steal. It’s not going anywhere.

I do think this is a relatively pressing problem, though — more and more time at a place we increasingly don’t like at the same time as loneliness is on the rise and there’s more and more isolation at work and at home.

Problematic, right?

Your take?

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Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money:

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