From board rooms to classrooms to living rooms all across the country, a topic that continues to ignite conversations with little resolve is why Americans don’t want to work?
The answer most people respond with when posed with such a question is that Americans are lazy and complacent living off government assistance programs.
Businesses continue to blame labor shortages for slowdowns in manufacturing and ultimately how quickly and efficiently they can get their products into the hands of consumers. I’m certainly not denying that struggle is real and is impacting our global supply chain.
But the question of why Americans don’t want to work is more complex than many realize — including me. In fact, it wasn’t until I stumbled upon a recent article in The Washington Post that I began to understand some of the motivation behind the unemployed.
The article was titled, It’s not a ‘labor shortage.’ It’s a great reassessment of work in America.
Washington Post reporter Heather Long says, “There is also growing evidence — both anecdotal and in surveys — that a lot of people want to do something different with their lives than they did before the pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak has had a dramatic psychological effect on workers, and people are reassessing what they want to do and how they want to work.”
In one way or another, the last few years have certainly been life-altering. While some have maintained the self-serving behavior which has invariably governed their lives, others have chosen to rethink (to reassess) their personal and professional lives and how they could be better.
The average American will spend some 90,000 hours at work throughout their lifetime. Unfortunately, the pressure to achieve, coupled with the lack of recognition and appreciation many organizations are plagued with, doesn’t make those 90,000 hours enjoyable as much as stressful.
That stress is something that begins to erode the quality of your life while stealing time away from those who deserve it most. Factor that together with the over 720,000 Americans who’ve passed away from the coronavirus, and suddenly the fragility and uncontrollability of one’s life become mentally overwhelming.
I read a comment online recently, which I’ll paraphrase. The person was questioning what people would remember her for when she died. That she worked hard at her job? That she excelled to a VP position? That she made tons of money and could buy anything she wanted? That she was a “success” in the eyes of the world? It took 720,000 Americans for her to realize she wanted to be remembered for something more. That her contributions impacted others in a meaningful way that wasn’t about greed or corporate profits.
My dear readers, the next time you find yourself involved in a discussion where the question why Americans don’t want to work arises, remember the fragility and uncontrollability of life. The lost time spent with the ones you love that you’ll never get back again. The continual drive for professional goals and accomplishments which you believe will render you a success but will long be forgotten when you’re gone.
A simple reason why some Americans don’t want to work has more to do with the quality of their life than the quantity.