Most dictionaries agree on the meaning of the word “essential,” something of the utmost importance, something basic, indispensable, necessary — in other words, something of the highest value. Except, the Coronavirus pandemic has shown, when it comes to “essential” workers, those on the front lines of healthcare, public safety and the basic services rendered to a consumer economy.
Although the value of these workers may seem high in public and political rhetoric, the value of their own health and safety was regularly sacrificed to their services and and the value of their paychecks generally failed to match the praising palaver.
No wonder so many recent surveys show so many American employees, the so-called “essentials” and those doing jobs not so basic, indispensable, and necessary are thinking of quitting, and changing not just their employers but their lines of work.
According a research from Microsoft more than 40 percent of American workers are actively considering leaving their jobs, while Pew Research reports 66 percent of people currently employed in America have thought about moving to a different career path.
Behind these reported mega-trends there are many particular dissatisfactions, most them examined in close detail — not just in the United States, but all across the world — in the annual Gallup Report on the Global Workplace.
Jim Harter, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist for Gallup’s workplace management and wellbeing practices. He is coauthor of Wall Street Journal bestseller Wellbeing at Work, released in 2021, a book that explores how to build resilient and thriving teams in organizations. He is also coauthor of the No. 1 Wall Street Journal and Washington Post bestseller, It’s the Manager, released in 2019, as well as the New York Times bestseller 12: The Elements of Great Managing, an exploration of the 12 crucial elements for creating and harnessing employee engagement.
Dr. Harter’s book, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, is based on a global study of what differentiates people who are thriving from those who are not. His research is featured in First, Break All the Rules, and he contributed the foreword to Gallup’s updated edition of this groundbreaking bestseller.
Dr. Harter is the primary researcher and author of the first large-scale, multi-organization study to investigate the relationships between work-unit employee engagement and business results. Updated periodically, this study currently covers 112,000 business units and includes 2.7 million employees in 276 organizations, across 54 industries and in 96 countries. His work has appeared in many publications, including Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and Time Magazine, and in academic articles and book chapters.