Most Americans unhappy with their career, studies say

Employers, take note: if the statistics are any indication, the prospective employee pool may be growing. According to a Harris study done for the University of Phoenix in Arizona, more than half of American workers want to change careers, Reuters reports. It claims that only 14 percent of Americans feel that they currently have the "perfect job." 

It also seems that the older you get, the less discontent you are – but even the majority of middle-aged workers want out of their current office. Nearly 54 percent of workers in their 40s wanted to start a new career, the study shows. That number increases to 64 percent for workers in their 30s, and to an overwhelming 80 percent for workers in their 20s. And 70 percent of workers, overall, stated outright that they were not working the job they had expected to work when they made their "career plans." And while location is a major factor – only 40 percent of workers in San Francisco want to change careers, compared to the much larger national average – the message remains clear: the workforce isn't satisfied.

"Choosing one career path after high school or college and sticking with it for the rest of a career is becoming less common," said Dr. Bill Pepicello, the president of the University, in a statement made accompanying the release of the results. "It is not uncommon for working adults to consider one or multiple career changes."

A lack of engagement
Another recently-released study aims to answer the question of why so many workers want to escape their current careers. Research company, Gallup, recently released their State of The American Workplace 2013 report, and its results only support the notion that Americans are dissatisfied in the workplace. According to the results, only 30 percent of workers are feeling "engaged" by their career.  

The remaining 70 percent, the study suggests, are not reaching their full potential. And while that majority continues to fulfill the obligations laid out by their employment, they also self-identify as being uninterested in the work that they're doing.

Included in that 70 percent are the 20 percent of Americans who designate as "actively unengaged." In his introduction to the results, Jim Clifton, Gallup's Chairman and CEO, refers to that 20 percent as the "miserable" and "discontent" side of the American workforce. It's not just that Americans aren't finding their dream jobs, the study claims – it's that the majority can't even manage to find work that "engages" them.

According to Gallup's estimates, the annual cost of this discontent to the American economy is no less than $450 billion. Worse yet, the study takes pains to note that many of the strategies being employed by corporations to increase worker morale – ping-pong tables, subsidized massages, or catered meals – are doing very little to alleviate the problem. Such activities may raise morale, but Gallup's study states that employee satisfaction is no replacement for an active interest in their work. "Indulging employees," the text promises, "is no substitute for engagement."

Maintaining focus
According to the Phoenix research, the most coveted job markets are currently the arts and sciences, business management, and healthcare. So those in charge of workers who hold finance or banking jobs are surely wondering: how can employees be kept satisfied? And just how important is it that they feel properly "engaged?"

"This is a tough economy, and it's going to be that way for a long time," noted Arianna Huffington, in a recently-published manifesto on the topic. "[But] stress-reduction and mindfulness don't just make us happier and healthier, they're a proven competitive advantage… This is why more and more companies are realizing that their employees' health is one of the most important predictors of the company's health."

Keeping employees happy and stress free is a long-term investment for a company. In the financial sector, it's important to recruit the best the hiring pool has to offer, but keeping these individual on staff will give a company a competitive advantage in its field.