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Why are so many workers so dissatisfied with their jobs? Well, it’s complicated

An expert on organizational excellence said employers need to create a sense of belonging.

PORTLAND, Maine — There’s a widespread perception that the pandemic has left many workers unhappy, burned out, and ready to tell their bosses toin the words of the country songtake this job and shove it. 

When asked if that perception is accurate, Patrick Veroneau, an expert on how workplaces rise and fall, said the reality isn’t quite that simple.

In surveys that go back 20 years and more, according to Veroneau, the numbers haven’t changed much—and they’re bleak. 

“Around one-third of employees are engaged,” he said.”Two-thirds are disengaged.”

But wait, what about the “great resignation” we’ve heard so much about (also known as quiet quitting), that is, the idea that vast numbers of people are bailing out of the workforce, or still on the job but just going through the motions. 

Has that indeed been happening in the last year or two, or not?

“The only thing that has changed is that there were opportunities [during the pandemic] for people to leave their organization where there weren’t before,” Veroneau said.

Veroneau, the owner of Emery Leadership Group in Portland and author of “The Leadership Bridge: How to Engage Your Employees and Drive Organizational Excellence,” added there are concrete steps that employers can take to make their employees happier and more productive. An important one is creating a genuine sense of belonging.

“[Workers] want an organization where they feel like the manager who they report to listens to them,” Veroneau said. “They want an organization where there’s a sense of empathy that’s demonstrated by those people they report to.”

Ah, but what about money? Isn’t that the key to making employees happy? 

“Certainly pay is important,” Veroneau acknowledged. “But when people feel connected to an organization, pay alone is not what’s going to entice them to go someplace else.”

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