New research illustrates the grim working conditions most American workers face today
American workers are physically and emotionally spent. They face unstable work schedules, unpleasant working conditions, and an often hostile social environment. But a majority of these workers also feel confident with their skill sets, and enjoy a degree of autonomy in their jobs.
This is according to the American Working Conditions Survey, a new study by nonpartisan, nonprofit RAND Corporation, Harvard Medical School, and UCLA. The research examined working conditions in the United States, painting a grim picture for the American worker.
The study found that more than one-in-four American workers feel they have too little time to do their job, with the complaint being most common among white-collar workers. Work-life balance was also found to be a major issue, with workers saying the intensity of work frequently spills over into their personal lives.
Half of respondents claimed to continue working through their allotted free times, just to meet work demands.
Researchers also found that only 54 percent of employees work regular schedules, with one in three workers say they have no control over their schedule at all. Despite the growth in flexible working arrangements like telecommuting, 78% of workers say they are required to always be present at their workplace during regular business hours.
Most alarmingly, over 50% of Americans report unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions. The report found that younger and prime-aged women are the workers most likely to experience unwanted sexual attention, while younger men are more likely to experience verbal abuse.
Other highlights from the report include:
- The workplace is an important source of professional and social support, with more than one half of American workers describing their boss as supportive and that they have very good friends at work.
- Only 38 percent of workers say their job offers good prospects for advancement. All workers – regardless of education – become less optimistic about career advancement as they become older.
- The survey also confirms that retirement is often a fluid concept. Many older workers say they have previously retired before rejoining the workforce, and many people aged 50 and older who are not employed say they would consider rejoining the workforce if conditions were right.
- Nearly two-thirds of workers experience some degree of mismatch between their desired and actual working conditions, with the number rising to nearly three-quarters when job benefits are taken into account. Nearly half of workers report working more than their preferred number of hours per week, while some 20 percent report working fewer than their preferred number of hours.