What People Want out of Their Jobs

            Over the last month or so, my office has been surveying the union employees we represent to try to find out what is making them tick after the midterm elections and in the current economy. As we emerge from the lockdown days of the pandemic and into the “new workplaces” that have evolved, I want to know how workers feel and what exactly they value.

            So far we have discovered some interesting takeaways.

            Workers do have concerns about the impacts that inflation is having on their pay, but not as much as I would have anticipated. I suppose if we had asked the question in the summer, responses might have been different. But with gas prices getting close to three bucks a gallon, some of the inflation wariness seems to be wearing off.

            Still, folks are concerned about the high cost of healthcare. The costs of medical insurance seem to impact how folks feel about their jobs more than wage rates do. That may be because workers who feel underpaid or undervalued can move to a different job. But regardless of the job, everybody is paying an awful lot of money for healthcare.

            Folks overwhelmingly tend to enjoy their jobs. More than seventy percent of the folks we have surveyed say that they enjoy their work and most feel valued by their employers.

            Surprisingly, only a bit more than seventy percent say they feel physically ready to work when they show up. And just a bit over sixty percent say they feel emotionally ready to work when the bell rings. I think these numbers point to the excessive demands placed on full-time workers after they leave their jobs. Poor health and nutrition, stressors at home, and imperfect sleep habits are often the causes of physical and emotional pain at work. It would make sense for employers to take an interest in ensuring the health of their employees and encouraging better habits.

            While every employee wants to earn a higher salary, the folks who believe that they are fairly compensated for their work have realistic expectations about how much of a raise they should get each year. Most employees are not greedy. They simply want what everyone else is getting in terms of annual wage increases.

            When asked about whether or not they feel safe at work, everybody has reported that they usually feel safe with close to half reporting that they always feel safe at work. This would be expected from a group that tends to enjoy their work and that feels valued in their jobs.

            There is a high demand for fairness in the workplace. Folks tend not to be interested in special or better treatment. They simply want to be treated fairly – no better and no worse than their co-workers.

            A majority of employees feel like they will be able to enjoy a retirement but all would like to have larger contributions into their retirement plans, whether they are a 401-K type or an old-style pension. With longevity on the rise since the turn of the century, many folks can expect to live well into their seventies, and most want to be sure that their money will last with them.

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