Although I liked this article’s focus on fairness as the main reason for burnout, I wish this hadn’t been in there:
Burnout has been long associated with being overworked and underpaid, but psychologists Christina Maslach and Michael Leiter found that these were not the crucial factors. The single biggest difference between employees who suffered burnout and those who did not was the whether they thought that they were being treated unfairly or fairly.
It’s not that being overworked and underpaid aren’t crucial factors in burnout – it’s just that they’re the most common and definable manifestations of the fairness gap.
The worst job I ever had was with the administrative side of a union’s pension fund. It wasn’t the job itself – it was that I came in the same day the daughter of one of the administrators came in, and we were both starting in what was supposed to be the same position. Our first task was certificates for years of service to be given out at the yearly meeting. Each certificate required printing, stamping a seal and putting the seal on. The way the work was doled out was as follows:
Daughter of the administrator: Make sure the paper doesn’t run out, and grab the certificates from the printer tray.
Me: Hand stamp each of the seals and put them on each of the certificates, then put them each in a folder matching the certificate’s recipient, then put the package in a sealable mylar bag.
At the end of the day, me exhausted from hand stamping a couple thousand seals and her decidedly not, we got word of our assignments for the next day. I’d be working on “dead mail” – calling the survivors of members who’d recently died and making sure all the contact information was up to date for the administration of remaining funds and benefits. She’d be working with the head administrator on a Powerpoint presentation.
Suffice to say, I quit at the end of the day.
What was your worst job, and why?