Food Engineering

Editorial: The next backlash: theft of the pursuit of happiness

January 5, 2004
I WAS NEVER ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE who made serious new year's resolutions or enjoyed end of year predictions about the year to come-expect for the humor value often found in both instances. However, I came across some forecasts just before the holidays that caught my interest.

According to the Conference Board, 2004 will be the US's best year economically in the last 20 years. The research group goes on to say that worker productivity, which set a record in 2003, is expected to grow even more this year.

I don't know about you, but I think all the recent attention about improved worker productivity is pretty obvious to most of us worker bees. In the past five years, we were all led to believe that we were lucky just to be employed. But if you were employed, 90 percent of the time, you were doing the job of two to three people.

Further predictions from the Conference Board reinforce the American worker's plight: while the US should create a million more jobs, unemployment figures are expected to decrease very slightly in 2004, leaving us in the same overworked or out of work boat.

Food Engineering research shows that, for the most part, our readers are feeling much more secure in their jobs. Of course they are. After all the mega-mergers of the ‘90s and continuing cutbacks, you have to wonder how much deeper the cuts can go.

The next great American backlash is taking shape. It will be in the form of workers who are seeing more of their free time given up in exchange for more hours, stress and anxiety on the job to hold on to the only job in town.

According to Careerbuilder.com, less than half of workers say they are satisfied with their career progress. Forty-eight percent of workers feel their workloads are too heavy. One-in-two workers say they work under a great deal of stress. In 2003, 53 percent of men said they are dissatisfied with their pay, a 23 percent increase over the 43 percent who shared this sentiment in 2001. Women have stayed relatively consistent with one-in-two expressing unhappiness with compensation.

Monster.com reports similar dissatisfaction by its users. Recently when Monster asked it visitors "Do you plan to look for a new job in the new year?" 93% said yes.

We have to take the Careerbuilder and Monster stats with a great big grain of salt. If you are using these sites, most likely you are unhappy at work and looking for a new job. Still, the statistics seem awfully high. Just maybe, more Americans are taking their Constitution to heart and at least are trying to pursue some additional happiness in 2004.