The state of the working world

Improving the state of our workplaces is something we can all influence.

The state of the working world

The current condition of the global workforce is a changing landscape as nations and economies continue to shift for increased profits and competitive advantages. Talent migrates across country borders bringing new ways, attitudes, cultures and ideas about how we should now be working smarter, harder, faster and cheaper. Our working days, hours and shifts are elongating as the ‘24-hour-a-day-employee world’ surges on to produce even more goods and services to improve business scale, efficiencies and profits.

To cope with everyday pressures and demands, workers turn to ever increasing amounts of caffeine, sugar, alcohol and anti-depressants (to name but a few crutches), just to be able to function.

The impact of the pressure is clearly visible, with rising levels of:

  • job stress
  • workplace conflict
  • mental health issues including depression and suicide
  • physical health issues including diabetes, cancer and heart disease

The 2013 State of the American Workplace Report estimates that widespread disinterest and unhappiness in the workplace are not only affecting company performance, but are costing the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion a year[1]

Add to this the issue of corporate corruption that continues to infiltrate workplaces and working practices at all levels; in small businesses, corporations, governments and even nations. We see corruption being played out in all sorts of ways from ‘turning a blind eye’ to that which is not legal, true or just, to self-interest and self-gain being put before the needs of others.

So, in the context of the above, as workers, employees, business owners and managers, what is it like for us at work? And are we – as a part of the workforce – happy, fulfilled and engaged in work?

According to a Gallup Survey[2], "Seven out of 10 workers have "checked out" at work or are "actively disengaged”[3]. That is 7 out of 10 workers who go to work each day disinterested, unmotivated, and potentially bored. In anyone’s language that is a shocking way to live.

What about the Happiness Index?

Today, and in spite of such governmental efforts including past UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan to ‘measure happiness and GDP’ or ‘Happiness Index’, our working population is far from happy and continues to suffer from any real sense of wellbeing. Research conducted by the ‘New Economic Forum think-tank’ shows what people worldwide say they want: Happiness, followed by Love, then Health and lastly Wealth[4].

If this is so, then why are we so unhappy at work, and what can we do to change this way of working and living that we clearly do not want?

Many of us see work as mundane or as drudgery, and something we just have to do to earn a living. A common strategy is to change jobs or careers, perhaps take a sabbatical, travel or take a holiday to create variety in life and to avoid feeling the discontentment. The problem with this strategy is we come back to the same discontentment, and within 24 hours the ‘benefit’ of the holiday or sabbatical is long gone. Even after changing jobs, the initial enthusiasm and desire for the grass to be greener disappears, and the discontentment seems to have followed us to the new workplace.

But it gets worse because in today’s world it doesn’t stop when we leave work to go home.

We’re being pushed more and more into a 24/7 non-stop, multi-stimulatory world, where for many the days of a 9-5 job are gone. Emails, phone calls and texts from work colleagues on projects come through 24 hours a day – instant responses and unspoken expectations and demands of this way of working and living are now the norm.

Being engaged in this continual push and near constant state of stress or anxiousness, it’s no wonder or surprise that our physical bodies and relationships are then equally placed under immense strain and compromise. Most would agree that living in stress, exhaustion and under constant pressure takes its toll so much that every-thing else also suffers, including our sense of harmony or wellbeing. Yet the reality is that in this inefficient and depleted way, we continue to work, drive to produce (even more) goods and services, manage teams and lead or run companies.

It seems there is no way out… or is there?

Deep down – or perhaps not even so deep down – is it not easy to agree and admit that if we do experience this tension every day that actually we are no longer okay with this situation? Our diminishing joy, enthusiasm, health and wellbeing tells us this way of working is affecting each of us throughout our lives, including the relationships we have with our family and colleagues, our mental and physical health, and our ability to contribute something of value to the world.

Are we victims, resigned to work being ‘just the way it is’, OR can we play a part in changing the face of the workplace?

What if the daily job stress, pressures, conflict and absenteeism are actually only because WE allow and accept the status quo of the workplace, including ‘seeing it as drudgery’, ‘conflict with fellow workers’, ‘loathing the boss’, ‘thank God it’s Friday’ and ‘just working for the money’ to be the norm?

What if you started to make some different choices about the you that you take to work?

Is it possible that by being one person who makes a choice not to be at the mercy of the currently accepted status quo, as that one person you can actually be a point of change for everyone around you?

What if you chose to make part of your life dedicated to developing the you that is the true you within. For example, if you introduced self-care into your life, and chose to develop a way of living that builds your inner connection and supports you to the point you no longer needed alcohol to de-stress from an intense day, then when you arise the next morning and head to work, how much more resourceful, insightful, and even joyous might you be? How much would this change the way you work, how you are with your colleagues or customers, and what would this look like?

How much difference can one person make? An enormous amount!

There is another way of being at work that puts you firmly outside the accepted norms of stress, drudgery and pressure. The first step is to know that there is another way, and then to commence the path of self-development in a way that supports and expands you as you walk that new path.

Where to from here?

This site is full of great ways to re-establish a way of living that has your inner connection at the centre of all you do. There is no prescriptive way of doing this, but some great starting points can be found in the Gentle Breath Meditation®, Self-care and building your essence.


  • [1]

  • [2]

  • [3]

  • [4]

    TED, Nick Marks: The Happy Planet Index, 2010).

Filed under

Work life balanceCorruptionExhaustionWork stress

  • By Heather Pope, Corporate Executive

  • By Zofia Sharman, MA Communications Policy, BA Economics

    International Recruiter and Career Counselor who sets a living standard in work/life that observes: when it comes to a job or career direction our only direction is the one taken back to absolute truth.

  • Photography: Steve Matson, Electrical Engineer, Chef, Photographer, Forklift operator and student of life.

    I am someone that looks at something that is complicated and sees the simplicity behind it. Life needs to be fun and lived. Making mistakes is an important part of this process.