Boredom and frustration in work resulting from lack of interest, involvement, responsibility or authority leads to absenteeism, poor quality work and low productivity from the employer's point of view and psychological distress on the part of the employee.
A hundred years ago Karl Marx described the 'alienation' of the industrial worker, and his contemporaries William Morris and John Ruskin were concerned at increased production being bought at the price of making work frustrating and inane. They feared that the satisfaction and skill of craftsmanship would give way to monotony and incomprehension. The absurdity of the process was brought powerfully to the public attention in the 1930s in Charlie Chaplin's film 'Modern Times'. An American Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in 1972 presented a study that concluded that 'the best predictor of long life is not whether a person smokes or how often he sees a doctor, but the extent to which he is satisfied with his job'.
Job dissatisfaction varies from one individual to another but some professions and working environments particularly in industrial society, do organize work in such a way that it becomes meaningless, boring or stultifying. Alienating and dehumanizing work is associated with modern highly-mechanized methods of production and decision-making structures. A survey carried out in the USA showed that, if they could start again, 93% of university professors would try to get into similar work. The corresponding figure for car workers, the least satisfied group, was 16%. In the auto industry, for example, the absence rate on Mondays and Fridays is staggering - 15 to 20%. There is also evidence of massive alcoholism under such circumstances.
In 1999 in the European Union, just over a third of those who had jobs were satisfied with them. Nearly half of them, and more women than men, would have liked to work shorter hours, while just one in 10 would have liked to work more, with men outnumbering women in this case.