Nobody Here But Us Contented Worker Bees takes

In the old joke, a man says he’s left his job for reasons of health: “They were sick of me.” It tends to be the other way around when the economy is booming: People feel free to get sick of their jobs. The logic is simple. When unemployment rates are low, workers aren’t grateful just to have a paycheck coming in. And the spectacle of colleagues jumping ship to accept lavish offers elsewhere naturally makes the stay-behinds feel restless. So, has the great boom of the past decade left people seething with discontent about their jobs? Not to judge by the results of a recent Harris Poll. Perhaps memories of the early-’90s recession still exert a sedative effect on such sentiments. Or maybe the obvious instability of the new-and-global economy has the same effect. (We’ll leave aside the implausible thought that companies might be treating their employees better.) As the chart indicates, most workers feel their efforts are appreciated to a significant degree; very few seem to feel thoroughly unappreciated. The response was similar when people were asked whether they get to use their “talents and skills” on the job: 51 percent said they do so “a lot” and 31 percent answered “quite a lot.” (This may make you wonder how much talent and skill these people have, but that’s quite another matter.) Do respondents feel they have much “control” over their work? A majority feel they do—46 percent “a lot” and 32 percent “quite a lot.” All we need now is a spike in unemployment rates and people will be whistling while they work.