By Lynn Saternow
WE CELEBRATED Independence Day this week, a day when many people take for granted the sacrifices our forefathers (and foremothers) made for us so that we could enjoy the freedoms we experience today.
But because of the economic downturn in the country the past few years, many people aren’t quite as happy as they were in past decades. In fact, many people are greatly upset. However, there obviously was still a lot of celebrating going on Thursday.
Fireworks were booming around my house well into the night – which those of us who work early in the morning don’t appreciate so much. And I know from the panic my dog displayed with every loud blast, she didn’t appreciate it either.
But the Fourth of July certainly is special. Our independence from England allowed us to move forward to become the greatest country on Earth. But in a way we are spoiled. So when times get a little tough we whine and cry.
For example: How happy are you in your job?
Because of the economy, many businesses and industries have suffered financial downturns. And with it, so have the employees.
Mercer County has seriously been affected. Workers everywhere have lost benefits, seen salaries drop, or have been forced to take temporary or permanent layoffs. Our jobless rate is pretty high at 8.3 percent last month in the county, which is much higher than the state’s 7.5 percent and the nation’s 7.6.
For those of you still working locally, are you so displeased with your current status that you aren’t producing like you should be?
The response to that question around the country has turned up some interesting results. Results of a Gallup Poll listed in The Week magazine recently showed that only 30 percent of workers in the United States today feel “engaged or inspired” at work.
And get this: 50 percent say they have “checked out” at work. Another 18 percent listed “actively disengaged.” That means they are openly displaying their unhappiness and are undermining their co-workers. (According to those numbers 2 percent of responses are missing, so I have no idea what they think.)
But where do we go from here with numbers like that? Yes, many of us have seen more work laid upon us as cutbacks are made. But checking out isn’t the answer because soon the company may check you out of a job.
And a sports cliché comes into play here: “When the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’.”
In other words, you either have to get goin’ and do a job to the best of your ability or get goin’ and look for another job.
As I said, we are spoiled. We have had so many advantages in life that our parents and grandparents didn’t have before us. So when we can’t afford all the luxuries to which we are accustomed, we become dissatisfied.
It will get better. But don’t count on it happening too soon. There are too many people “checking out” in everything they do.
The Herald’s Lynn Saternow writes this column each Saturday for the Opinion page. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.