Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Unhappy at work? Get married, change jobs, and man up

A survey by Captivate, the elevator news company, shows that a typical unhappy person at work is most likely a female professional with a household income under $100,000, who is over 40 and unmarried. The typical happy worker is a 39 year-old male, married, with a household income between $150,000 and $200,000 and one young child and a wife who works part time.  .
I can't vouch for the validity of the survey, which I'm guessing was based on voluntary participants. But it appears that men are consistently happier than women both in the office and at home. This may be the result of something else that shows up in the Captivate survey, namely that  "women take the lead in daily chores." That probably has something to do with it--I know that I would be unhappy at work if at home I faced a never ending cycle of laundry, cooking, cleaning, and shopping, all chores that were consistently performed by majorities of the female respondents.
I suggest, in addition to the cultural forces that result in women performing these "must do" chores at ratios of almost 2:1, that the average standards for guys with respect to this work might be a factor.  Specifically, your basic male minimums in these areas appear to be substantially lower than that of their female counterparts. In terms of laundry, my experience is that the average guy is much less picky about what comes out of the washing machine, and its actual state when wearing it, than his spouse or girlfriend. Similarly, most men that I associate with tolerate a level of household messiness that drives their significant others to despair. And many of my male peers are not allowed to go shopping unsupervised for things that matter .
I'm not sure if there is any message to employers here - work-life balance (or, as one federal judge recently referred to it, "work life choices"), has remained a difficult and divisive issue since women began entering the work place. Perhaps the answer contained in one of the other Captivate responses concerning taking breaks during the work day provides a clue to overall male worker satisfaction. Men are 25% more likely to take breaks for "personal activities" while at work.  The personal activities at the top of men's lists?  Smoking and sex.
Just sayin'.

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