Dairy farming is rated as one of the top 20 worst jobs in the world. But Andrew May says if you're not happy with your job, either learn to love it or get out. Photo: Quentin Jones
Have you ever had one of those days where you thought 'work sucks and there must be a better way?'
Well, next time you have those thoughts, you might want to ask yourself whether it is actually your job or your attitude that is at fault.
A recent American study by job site CareerCast looked at more than 200 jobs and applied five judging criteria to rank the Top 20 worst jobs in the US.
According to the survey "Physical labor, declining job opportunities, a poor work environment and high stress were all pervasive attributes among those jobs that comprise the 2012 Worst Jobs List".
Some surprising findings included: Funeral Director scored as being a better job than an Advertising Account Executive, and Garbage Collectors were near the bottom of the list in spot 160.
Top 20 worst jobs according to CareerCast are:
2. Dairy Farmer
3. Enlisted Military Soldier
4. Oil Rig Worker
5. Reporter (Newspaper)
7. Meter Reader
11. Shoe Maker/Repairer
12. Drill-Press Operator
14. Taxi Driver
15. Automobile Assembler
17. Shipping/Receiving Clerk
18. Mail Carrier
The survey categorised five "Core Criteria" that are inherent to every job including: Environment, Income, Outlook, Stress and Physical Demands.
Reading this list got me thinking a little more simplistically – is it the job that actually stinks, or is it perhaps the employees' attitude? Sure, some jobs are much harder to do than others. But over the years I've met some high profile newsreaders, international sports stars and million dollar bankers with rotten attitudes who constantly complained about the pitfalls of their 'glamorous' jobs.
I've also met some taxi drivers, car parking attendants and sewerage workers who tackled their occupations with passion and vigour. Maybe this latter group simply adopted a different attitude? Could it be that simple?
Can you learn to love your job?
Many years ago I was working with Ingham's Chickens at their processing plant in Sorell, near Hobart. My job was to work with Human Resources to help reduce the amount of soft tissue injuries on the production line. Over time I came to know the staff well, and there was one woman, a beautiful Italian lady in her late 50s named Rosa, who to this day still inspires me.
Rosa worked on the end of the production line and her technical role was to exonerate the internal chicken carcass, or in everyday terms, she stuck a pipe inside a chicken's arse and flushed it out.
One day over morning tea I said to her "Rosa, you are always so happy and positive, have you always been like this?". "She looked at me like I just asked a really stupid question. "Of course I am always like this. I have a job and I work with great people."
Rosa had moved to Hobart when she was in her early 30s and didn't speak a word of English when she landed. I said to her: "A lot of people doing your job would probably not have the same attitude as you". With her beautiful Italian accent, she replied "Andrew, I don't have glamorous job. I stick a hose in chicken's backside. But my job gives me money so I can buy food and prepare a tasty meal for my husband at night, I can buy presents for my darling grandchildren, and we have the opportunity to travel back to Italy every four or five years".
Any time I'm having a bad day at work I gain perspective by thinking about Rosa and her disposition. A few years ago, leading happiness expert Professor Timothy Sharp gave me his theory on attitudes towards work.
-You love it
-Learn to love it
I really like this approach. A small percentage of the population absolutely love their job and feel like it is a calling or a chosen vocation. If you fall into this category you are a member of a very select and highly engaged group.
The majority of people however need to focus on the positives and learn to love their job by reframing their attitude through acknowledging the additional benefits their job provides them. Is it money? Is it social interaction? Is it intellectual stimulation? Does your job involve manual labor that helps you to be fit and healthy? Is it actually a positive having employment in a tight labour market?
And if you have exhausted all of these avenues and still can't see any positives, the final group are the people who should get out.
So if you despise turning up to work each day you're only doing yourself, the organisation employing you and the customers you come into contact with every day a disservice.
The best solution is to go and find a job you can learn to love. And if you are reading this and still thinking that there really are no other options for a career change right now – book a trip to Hobart and track down Rosa in Sorell, shout her a cuppa and lamington for morning tea and sit down to listen, learn and be inspired.
What do you think are the worst jobs out there?