Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Thu, Apr 19 2007

Job satisfaction

It was fun to hear a bit about some studies showing that people who work in jobs that give service to others generally report a higher rate of happiness in their work. I noted that other areas of significant job satisfaction included creative workers and office supervisors. I can't speak for office supervisors, but the creative expression in writing, painting, acting and other arts gives tremendous satisfaction, so I would expect to see that high on the list.

I wasn't too surprised to know that there wasn't as high a satisfaction rate among physicians and lawyers. People who enter either of these professions usually have a set of expectations that can include a high rate of success, a high rate of respect from others and a high rate of financial compensation. To some extent they do receive good financial compensation, but physicians in recent years have been saddled with time issues, plus insurance restrictions and escalating overhead and regulatory mazes that often prevent them from doing what is best for an individual patient. And they always seem to have the threat of malpractice suits dangled over their heads. I know of several doctors who have opted to retire early because of the current state of health care in the United States. Lawyers, once esteemed by colleagues and society in general, have become fuel for lawyer jokes and searing criticism that causes some of them to be reluctant to even disclose the nature of their profession at social gatherings. What was once a proud profession draws sneers and disgust. That could really cut down on the amount of job happiness.

I don't know much about roofing or bartending, but food servers probably deserve medals for the work they do. I've been seated near restaurant patrons that would practically drive an angel want to poke them with a fork. Servers get blamed for everything from management's no-substitutions policy to the cook's heavy-handed use of sage. There are bad food servers, of course, but I've been served by men and women who can still smile after 25 years of insults from tyrants who leave a two-cent tip after treating the food server like their personal property. If one finds happiness in serving food to the public, one has a gift that surpasses human reasoning and understanding.

Which leads me to wonder if job satisfaction is more about the personality of the worker than about his or her position. People who perceive the world as a dull or miserable place no matter what they do are going to hate their job, but their attitude may also lead them to choose jobs that can foster their negativity. Maybe a great percentage of those who go into the ministry, into education, into the arts, are more likely the type of person to be hopeful of making the world a better place in at least the corner from which they labor. Since none of us lives long enough to attempt every profession, we can only speculate about the areas of work we don't pursue. But I have a big hunch that an attitude of giving and the wish to make a difference count for a lot, even in jobs society might not always think of as glamorous or even high-paying.

posted at: 11:57 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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