SURVEY SAYS: What's the Best – and Worst – Part of Your Job?

January 10, 2008 ( - With all those New Year's resolutions still fresh in everyone's minds, I've always found this time of year to be a good time to take a step back and assess your current job situation.

This week, I asked readers what one thing they like MOST – and LEAST about their current job.


As for likes, a clear plurality of this week’s respondents – though just less than 27%  – said it was “the job itself” that they liked most – soundly outdistancing hours/flexibility ( 19% ), boss ( 12% ), coworkers ( 12% ), and pay ( 8% ).

There were, however, nearly 14%  who opted for “other”, which turned out to be an endorsement either of multiple things, or in most cases what I might have termed “the job”, but most in this category labeled the “ability to make a difference.”   Noted one, “In my interactions with the people in our company, I get to help them, and that’s what’s most important to me.”   Another said, “the ability to actually make a difference for employees and employer,” and another cited “assisting employees through the retirement process.”  Still another noted “Ongoing opportunities to learn — you can never know everything about pensions.”

As for what they liked least – well, let’s just say that nearly half said….”other”.   But let’s come back to that.   Among the responses that chose a specific item, pay topped the list ( 10% ), followed by boss ( 8% ), location ( 7% ), the job itself ( 6% ), hours/flexibility (or presumably lack thereof  5% ), with the other categories all bringing in 3% or less.

“Other” Dislikes

Now – as for “other” – there was a wide variety of things there.   Pay – or more accurately, the lack thereof – showed up, as did a variety of disaffections with office politics, a lack of management support, coworkers (one noted, “On good days, I interact with co-workers that I like and respect. Then, there are the other days…” ), pushes toward dealing with parts of the job that aren’t as interesting, inconsistent messages from “above” (and I don’t mean the Almighty), communication (generally a lack thereof with one’s bosses), problems with their boss’ boss, paperwork, bureaucracy, compliance, workload (one reader noted, “work life balance seems to work only if life does not interfere with work” ), an inappropriate focus on cost, job security (more accurately the lack thereof), “The insane reliance on procedures for EVERYTHING” , an unwillingness on the part of management to enforce procedures, a lack of direction, too much “direction”, or – as one reader noted, “Everything except lunch.”

But this week’s Editor’s Choice  goes to the reader who said what they most – and least – liked about their job was “The challenge of facing issues with no answers.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!

The variety (I'm a bank examiner with asset mgmt focus)
Interacting with our employees to help them understand their benefits
I get paid
Actually it's a benefit but I love my 6 weeks of vacation (that I take without hesitation).
My boss, who resigned this week. Bummer!
The ability to actually make a difference for employees and employer
Assisting employees through the retirement process
The philosophy of the company towards its employees. It fits my philosophy and style.
location, location, location - less than 5 minutes from home
Ongoing opportunities to learn -- you can never know everything about pensions
The challenge of facing issues with no answers.
In my interactions with the people in our company, I get to help them, and that's what's most important to me.
Employees-when they are good they are very good

As an HR Manager, I like the variety of my days the most and the task of communicating that someone will lose his or her job the least.  

The creative side of my job, where I interact the most with participants and produce fun and exciting education campaigns, is my favorite part of my job.

The think I like most about my job is working for the most ethical corporation I have ever seen.   This may be typical of banking organizations, but I don't believe it is typical in corporate America.

My boss is a close second in what I like most. A good manager makes a world of difference.

I chose hours/flexibility for what I like the most and the least. On one hand, I get to choose when I show up for work. On the other hand, there are times of the year that I am at the office until midnight, no matter how early I am at the office . . . . like right now when quarterly reports are being generated.

This is my dream job - I get to draw on all my experience and learn new things about the financial industry. I just wish it was in a hot dry climate somewhere in the southwest U.S. Telecommuting is almost there but employers still prefer face time and cubicle presence.

My "supervisor" lives in Utah and I work in Louisiana. I love the fact that he knows I'll get the work done without him standing over me.

While I said that my boss was the worst part of my job, all those other items rank higher. She's actually okay. In addition, as I look at my peers at other corporations in this area, I believe I have the best gig in town. I have nothing to complain about.

What I like most - my fellow co-workers. What I like least - my fellow co-workers. Speaking of politics, there is way too much of it in workplace!

Hands down the best and the worst is working with people. They never change and they always change. It's like deja vu all over again, man. No wonder I "take this job and hug it, I love workin' in this realm..."

I am very fortunate to find a company that treats its employees well. I am left alone to do my job, but have the support I need when issues arise. I am the head of Human Resources and would like to see the company directly include HR in more of the strategic planning rather than the indirect role I play now.

On good days, I interact with co-workers that I like and respect. Then, there are the other days...

I love the fact that my company let me go to working three, 10-hour days (after 20 years, mind you). The bad thing is that those three days are now jammed with all of the meetings I used to attend on Monday and Friday, so I don't get anything done!

Lengthy, cumbersome approval process
lack of annual bonuses for my particular profession.
My boss's boss
Not being busy enough--five me more to do!
Travel - sometimes there is too much.
Office Politics
billable hours quota
The absurdity of corporate america
Compliance Season
workload/unreasonable expectations
Clients that don't follow my advice
Not staying busy
As a project manager, I have full responsibility for the project, but none of the people working on my team are direct reports -- which leads to accountability issues when something goes wrong!
non-productive paperwork
The complexity of our benefit plan designs even though our company motto is "Simpler, Faster, Better" . Yea right!
My job is becoming more and more focused on sales.
I don't get paid enough
Senior Management's Lack of Leadership
This job has the possibility of becoming monotonous
Lack of product support from management
Just that I have to come to work, I would rather it be "optional"!
The amount of turmoil and people who don't place nicely with the other children.
Company's difference between words and actions in saying employees are valued
Inconsistant rules applies - what you can do depends on who you are.
Lack of upper management to enforce procedures the company has in place
recording time for billing purposes and billing
Some co-workers who think they can get through life without ever thinking for themselves.
lack of information
Equitable application of policy
Since I work for the state, everything is scrutinized.
HDHP is great if you never get sick
Not enough work.
as hr director and reporting to the president, communication is my biggest issue or lack there of
The anti-government Administration
having to make budget
just one specific co-worker--the non-team player/slacker/blamer...all in one!
Dealing with arrogant, EQ-deficient business heads
The insane reliance on procedures for EVERYTHING. This slows things down and mostly gives people a reason NOT to do things, if every "i" wasn't dotted and every "t" crossed.
Goverment mandated paperwork
Just started so waiting for my first assignment is what I like least.
Perception of some Sr Mgmt (Audit Department)
Everything except lunch
Insufficient recognition of effort and accomplishments - for me and others
That we were acquired by a big conglomorate and I will probably lose my job
the good old boys club environment
The challenge of facing issues with no answers.
poor management structure
It's a combination of several of the above!
Billable hours goals
Bean counters and lack of innovative thinking by the corporation
work overload
Employees-when they are bad they are horrid
Teammates who don't know the meaning of team.

The stress created by the overwhelming number of projects on my plate at any given time is the thing I hate about my job sometimes.

I really like my job, but I guess the thing I like least is navigating through all of the benefits laws and regulations - and there appears to be no end to what the government may impose on us.

Everything about my career is enjoyable, but having done it for various employers for over 30 years I have seen a gradual shift of attitude over time. Our primary customers, the employees, have become more and more ungrateful of the services and products provided to them. I believe this is a small indication of a country who now believes everything we have is a "right", rather than a "privilege". We have taken for granted the great life many before us suffered and even died for and we are rightly hated by people in other countries because of that attitude. If we are not careful, one day we will reap the "benefits" of our greed, arrogance and conceit.

Company states it values employees and that a good work life balance is needed. However, work life balance seems to work only if life does not interfere with work. Taking scheduled time off is too often expected to be put on a backburner.

For the least, I would have to choose location if I did not have an "other" option since its a 30 mile drive from home but I chose to live there. For the most, its a really tough call and it makes me appreciate the job more. For that reason, I chose "Job itself" but the clients, co-workers, bosses, flexibility,... all make the job enjoyable (most of the time).

I know I shouldn't complain about my 30 minute commute to go 35 miles when others in larger cities spend that long going a lot fewer miles...but it's all relative...right?!?!?

I was hired to do one job, but was switched to something I'm not trained for and don't like. I feel like a round peg in a square hole, but it may not matter. The rumours that we will be sold are stronger this year than they have been in the past, and none of us may be employed--whether we like the job or not!

In regard to what I like least, it was really hard to choose between boss, hours/flexibility or a write-in candidate - prima donnas and smoozers in senior management. After reviewing your article on the Yahoo! Hot Jobs survey, I had to go with boss.

It seems at times that the bean counters have taken over my company. Case in point, for the last quarter of last year, our business area managers whose job it is to drum up business for the pipeline and whose work is not billable to customers, were forced to be billable by decree of some bean counter in our organization so to help the bottom line. So they all stopped drumming up new business and did billable work instead for three months. Some tried to do both, but it was hard. So now here we are in the new year and we have no new business in the pipeline, and our current work is drying up. The bean counters got their wish...we had a strong finish to 2007...but now we're having a crappy start to 2008.

This week I also asked, as a bonus question, if readers had - or planned to - vote in their state's primary.

A full two-thirds ( 66.1% ) said they would, and 3.5% said they already had (I guess we can figure out where they live).   

Roughly 15% said they would not (several independents in this group who, depending on the state, were precluded from voting in the primaries), while nearly 14% said they might, and less than 2% said it "depends (and no, I didn't ask depends on what).