Most workers would agree that there are numerous factors that affect their workplaces. Work and home life are connected and feed off each other, impacting job engagement and productivity as well as company profits. This is why it's essential that employees and employers recognize and address contemporary social problems.
Gender inequality is still hurting the American workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, full-time female workers earned on average approximately 19.1 percent less than full-time male employees. Additionally, although women make up nearly 50 percent of the total U.S. workforce, only 14.3 percent are executives and only 4.2 percent are CEOs. These inequalities negatively affect employee well-being in a big way. This is a problem for employers, too, since, according to a June 2012 article in the "Gallup Business Journal," a worker with a poor well-being tends to be less productive and more costly to her employer.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, full-time Latino workers earned on average approximately 29.2 percent less than white employees and 36.6 percent less than Asian employees. In the same year, full-time black employees earned approximately 20.6 percent less than the average white worker and 29 percent less than Asian workers. Once again, this inequality negatively affects employee well-being and productivity. It's essential to keep in mind that as time goes on, diversity will only become more important. According to a 2010 report by the Center for America Progress, by the year 2050, there will no longer be a clear majority race or ethnicity in the United States. Smart employers value diversity and understand that a diverse workplace means varying skills and broad base of knowledge.
Violence, whether occurring at work or at home, is a contemporary social problem that significantly affects employees and employers. According to WorkplaceRespond.org, employees who are victims of violence might suffer from depression, anxiety and other feelings that negatively affect their well-beings. They are also likely to miss work frequently and be less productive when on the job. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2003 report estimates that all these factors add up to a cost of greater than 5.8 billion dollars a year. The violence is also likely to affect those who are close to the victim; they might experience similar feelings as well and their job performances might suffer, too.
There is often still a negative stigma attached to mental illness. This is surprising and unfortunate since, according to 2013 information provided by the National Institute of Mental Health, around one-quarter of adults are diagnosable for one or more disorders each year. However, only 41 percent of these adults receive treatment. This means that more than half of the adults with mental illnesses aren’t receiving the help they need to live happy and productive lives. This, of course, is also likely to poorly affect job performance and well-being. In the worst case scenarios, those suffering from mental illness might commit suicide. The NIMH notes that those with diagnosable mental disorders commit more than 90 percent of the reported suicides each year.
- Catalyst: U.S. Women in Business
- Center for American Progress: Progress 2050
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States
- Gallup Business Journal: Poor Wellbeing Is Killing Your Business
- National Institute of Mental Health: Any Disorder Among Adults
- National Institute of Mental Health: The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey
Sydney Neely has worked in the education arena for more than 10 years, teaching general education, the arts, communication and finance. She holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education degrees from Arizona State University. Neely also holds several state and federal financial licenses in life insurance and investments (Series 6 and 63).