Don't Be a Dilbert

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Does that word sound negative to you? "I have to go to work" is often said with the same enthusiasm as "I have to go to the dentist."

Scott Adams produces the cartoon Dilbert, and Dilbert seems to be the voice of many in the workplace. In one cartoon strip Ratbert sums up Dilbert's work life: He puts on clothes he doesn't want to wear and drives somewhere he doesn't want to go so that he can do something he doesn't want to do.

Unhappy workers

Unfortunately Dilbert's predicament is all too true for many of us. A study recently released by the Conference Board (a group that studies management and the marketplace) shows that job satisfaction for the American worker is the lowest they have found in their 22 years of surveys. Only 45 percent of workers say they are satisfied with their jobs. The unhappiest were those under 25 years old. Their job satisfaction stood at less than 36 percent.

Miserable millennials

Many workplace experts blame the recession for the high level of job dissatisfaction, but why are the youngest workers the most dissatisfied?

Adam Grant is a management professor at the Wharton School of Business. His explanation is "the Millennial Generation [also known as Gen Y] is entering the workforce with expectations higher than any generations before them. This generation is not accustomed to delaying gratification."

Tough economic times have changed a lot of expectations. Companies that seemed to offer plenty of opportunities for challenging work have cut back. It's no longer an employee's market where someone with talent and ambition can expect to have the career he or she wants. Sometimes the opportunity just isn't there, and that can lead to job dissatisfaction. Even worse, it can lead us to bitterness about our employment and eventually to self-destructive behavior at work.

How do we handle delayed gratification in the workplace?

Why I like my work

Let me share something that has actually improved my workplace satisfaction in these difficult times. I try not to look at work as a place I have to go but instead as an opportunity I am blessed with.

That may sound corny and not seem to be a whole lot of help, but I've found it makes a world of difference. The everyday annoyances on the job don't become a big deal.

This mind-set enables me to take a long-term view on the job. Seeing acquaintances affected by the recession has reminded me of that lesson.

A working preacher's advice

In the Bible, the apostle Paul gave advice that will improve our job satisfaction:

"Bondservants [or by extension, employees], obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men" (Colossians 3:22-23).

Even though a business employs me, ultimately my work is not for them but for God. My reward goes beyond my paycheck.

Paul finishes the thought by writing "…knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ" (verse 24).

Who we really work for

We don't just serve our employers. We are serving Christ with our work, and our reward is more than just what we deposit in our bank account. If we keep that in mind, we can deal with delayed gratification on the job.

To learn more, take a few minutes to read Finding Success in Your Job and Career from the booklet Making Life Work.

I enjoy the cartoon Dilbert, but I don't want to be like him. I don't have to go to work today. It's a blessing to go to work today. VT