There is not only one problem for white-collar workers. If you think that all office workers work in places like Google or cool plazas, or they are completely free of health and safety risks, then you're completely wrong! As I was once an office worker myself, I picked up the most common complaints and put together my observations here. (Thank God, I left my job after 5 years ago and started to work on my startup.)
When I started thinking about writing this post, I decided to draw up a list of the problems. And so I wrote to my WhatsApp group of friends to know what their top problems as employees are. The list, which was much longer than I thought, comprises of the most common problems of white-collar workers, which are as follows:
1. Unsatisfactory Salary and Job Title
Low raise and sluggish promotion prospects are on the top of the list of employee disappointments. After spending long hours into the night to get the project done before the deadline, expectations swell! But, they often feel that their efforts are not compensated enough.
2. Open-plan office - Noisy and crowded like sardines
If you work for Facebook, Amazon or startups that raise decent investments, you probably like working on open-plan office which was designed with cool and trendy furnitures, and colorful paints. What about the other corporate companies? Do they love or hate it? In an open-plan office environment, employees sit in lines of desks in this so-called "‘socially democratic workplace", with their bosses in small offices surrounding them. This workplace setup could make workers sick, stressful, and unproductive.
On the other hand, privacy is hard to keep in such a workplace. Calling your family or friends and talking private during work hours is nearly impossible while your neighbours engages in gossipy conversations.
This is a big topic that needs to be talked about especially the methods, the cases and the ways to stop it. Although I may not be an expert on mobbing, I can share how it makes you feel awful. Mobbing sometimes comes from the boss, and sometimes it comes from your colleagues. Both of them are frustrating.
4. Limitless job definition
You're not alone if you are working on revising hundreds of product data sheets even though your main project deadline is two days later and your raise depends on this project KPIs.
Of course, every job includes some sub-tasks that are not part of the job description, but the crucial point is how much time is spent at doing what we perceive to be our main jobs? If you have just one title but have multiple but motley tasks and responsibilities, welcome to the club! A typical office worker must do what their bosses tell them to do, do presentations and at the same time, they work for 3 departments at least. We're White HERO!
5. Endless and pointless meetings
Schedule a meeting for project deadline review, schedule another one for review of KPIs. Schedule-schedule and accept-accept... While you're swaying from one side to another, your boss expects the reports, test results, and all the work to be done by you! Pointless and it is like painting the Forth Bridge! According to survey, meetings are on the top 3 of wasted work hours. Atlassian's web infographic shows that meetings are the second culprit why workers waste their time. Have you ever thought what the percentage of your weekly work hours do you spend for meetings? If you didn't think about it before, let me show you some statistics and the survey results:
- According to the American Time Use Survey, Americans spend 8.7 hours at work on an average work day. Each year, Americans work roughly 1,790 hours.
- Harvard Business Review published the "Stop the Meeting Madness" article and the survey data tells us to stop wasting time on meetings.
" We surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries: 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work. 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together. "
- Middle managers spend around 35% of their work week in meetings. 15% of organization's collective time is spent in meetings. (source: Meeting Analysis: Findings from Research and Practice)
- Beyond these spent hours, executives consider more than 67% of meetings to be failures. (source: Meeting Analysis: Findings from Research and Practice)
This tedious issue has the biggest impact on reducing your social time. Time spent on meetings means extra shifts together because there are pending tasks to be done. It steals your time with additional work hours. And that means you don't have enough time to relax and freshen up. Long-term overwork increases risks of depression.
6. Seems big, acts kid!
Small enterprises dream to grow and create bigger corporate culture. Medium-sized companies set trainings, launch new projects on taking new quality management system certifications. Large companies have big problems which are the nature of being big. Maybe we should accept this while working for them. But the most miserable case is working on a firm which attempts to create a corporate culture. I call them as SnideCorp. Management systems, procedures, terms, requirements can be easily disregarded if the big boss would make a decision and ask for a new action. OK, let's give an example: you have a new prototype but need more time to test and launch it. Also, you need to create the definition of the product code on ERP and CRM, the product requirement documents, datasheet, marketing materials, etc. Corporate companies have a procedure and a documentation on how you must proceed and who will do it. But a senior manager or boss can easily jump to launching phase from R&D stage in a snidecorp. So, what happens? Increase in customer complaints and then, looking for a scapegoat!
Newly graduated engineers, and marketers, like many of us, plan to work for big companies because of the benefits packages, financial power, high salary etc. Nowadays, this case is changing. Talents prefer to join cool startups and want to be part of the success, the solution of the intelligent team. What makes startups an attractive employment options for fresh grads are the flexible working hours, a sensible decision-making process that uses new technology, and the right to choose the tools to enhance creativity.
7. Workload and long work hours
Why do people work long hours with no extra pay? Or what are the main reasons why people accept long work hours with overtime pay not withstanding the financial worries? I like the brief list of WorkSmart:
- The managers judge people on how long they stay, not how effectively they get things done?
- Overloaded tasks
- Disorganized boss
- Ineptness on project management (In this case, you probably hear word "urgent!" more often).
Working too much doesn't work for you and your boss!
Companies should awaken to the reality of unproductively caused by long work hours and its effects on occupational health. It may result in increased fatigue symptoms, depression depending on neglected social life, musculoskeletal damage, heart attack, brain damage, and risks of obesity.
Could you catch these characters on your office? Yes-man always looks well adjusted, likes saying "Yes", "Why not?", "Of course", "What a smart idea!", but these words are only told for the boss. While your teammates and you are explaining why the cheaper alternative raw material is not appropriate for the production or requested new feature is unnecessary and will waste your time, he/she takes the part of the boss on the meeting. After engaging in gossips, he/she shows his/her attitude and complains to the boss! Could you remember him/her now?
9. Absence of the rest periods and break rooms
Lunch breaks is not solely enough for breathing and refreshing during work days. Phone calls, relaxing, reading news, talking on social life or just walking away from the noise of the open-office is not possible if there is no break rooms in workplace. The biggest problem is talking about private life on call. Nobody can expect you to just work and concentrate the task without you caring about non-work related stuff. It's impossible. There are almost coffee or tea breaks on all offices but they are served on your table because your boss doesn't like you to leave your table and computer. You must be available when they or a customer calls! Actually rest periods and break rooms helps to increase workers' motivation, team dialogs and creativity.
I could easily keep on listing but I wonder what is your problem on top but was not mentioned above. What is the missing topic on the list?