Menu Close

Why are “Knowledge” Workers not Happy?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One would think that highly-qualified “knowledge” workers would, generally, be a happy lot. And why not as their job is to foster innovation, resolve problems, and think strategically. And they probably earn reasonable incomes. Clearly a recipe for high engagement. Or not?

Well, despite general high engagement with their jobs, these people appear to have greater levels of stress than other workers. They struggle for work-life balance, and worry about job security. “Greater education opens the door to more opportunities in the job market,” says Thomas Hartley, vice president of GfK Customer Loyalty and Employee Engagement. “But with that comes higher levels of responsibility and pressure to deliver results”.

To investigate this further, GfK Custom Research North America recently conducted a survey of more than 30,000 highly qualified “knowledge” workers worldwide. And their findings were:

  • 29% of North American workers with PhDs say they experience extremely high levels of stress at work.
  • 39% of those with a master’s degree frequently worry about stress
  • 30% of PhDs report extremely high levels of pressure about job security
  • 25% of people with a master’s degree frequently worry about work-life balance
  • Just 38% of the “creative class” employees with PhDs say they’re highly engaged at work
  • 41% of US workers age 29 or younger are considerably stressed at work, the highest of all age groups
  • 43% of US workers age 29 or younger are highly concerned about work-life balance, the highest of the age groups.

The main reasons given for why they feel disengaged are:

  • They can’t influence decisions that impact their work
  • Unclear communications from their boss
  • No company commitment to career development

So really, it’s back to the age-old Leadership problem. And I guess it’s quite comforting to know that these “creative class” people actually have the same problems at work as us mere mortals.