Three quarters regret career choice, a third bored at work, says survey

A poll of 500 workers finds that no fewer than 77% of employees regret their career choice, whilst 35% admit to being bored at work.

by Andrew Saunders
Last Updated: 29 Feb 2016
Of course the grass is always greener, and we know things have been a bit dicey in the job market over the past few years, but those are pretty dispiriting numbers. What would Edith Piaf make of it? More a case of ‘Je regrette tout’ than ‘Je ne regrette rien’.

Workplace boredom and regret are it seems intrinsically linked. Of the 77%, the biggest cause for them wishing themselves doing something else was being bored at work, with one anonymous respondent saying, ‘At school I dreamed of becoming a doctor but I flunked my exams and ended up in sales.

‘I make a good living but I must admit there are times when I wish I had done something a little more worthwhile with my life.

'I could be curing sick children but instead I’m selling stuff and banging a gong when I reach my targets.'

Cheer up mate – it may not always seem like it, but sales is a worthwhile occupation, economically at least. The company that doesn’t sell anything doesn’t last very long.

The survey was commissioned by serviced office providers Money – or rather the lack of it - was the second biggest cause of regret, with 31% wishing they had chosen a more lucrative calling. Which just goes to show that most of us are more motivated by the chance to do a good job well than we are by money. Something the government might want to bear in mind while it cogitates on today’s Banking Commission report recommendations.

But there is some good news alongside all the ‘what ifs’ – only 7% are bothered by working long hours and a mere 4% want a less stressful role, so despite the recession at least the UK’s workers are bearing up well in these departments.

And almost a quarter – 23% - claim never to regret their job. That’s a pretty bold claim – surely even the chirpiest of souls occasionally gets to wondering what would have happened if only they’d answered that small ad for a guitarist back in their teens?

Of course these kind of surveys are themselves hedged about with caveats and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. But if there’s anything in this one at all, it perhaps demonstrates the consequences of the recession mentality that ‘any job is better than no job.’

With a few cautious signs recently that the economy might be looking up at last, we could be on the cusp of a big game of musical chairs as bored workers start to spread their wings again and seek more fulfilling occupations. Well, it’s a theory anyway…  

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

The art of leadership: From Marcus Aurelius to Martin Luther King

Transformational, visionary, servant… enough is enough.

Lockdown stress: 12 leaders share practical coping tips

In hard times, it's far too easy for the boss to forget to look after...

Don’t just complain about uncertainty, find the tools to navigate it

Traditional in-person research methods won’t work right now, but that’s no excuse for a wait-and-see...

How well have CEOs performed during the coronavirus pandemic?

A new survey offers a glimpse into what their staff think.

Why women leaders are excelling during the coronavirus pandemic

There is a link between female leaders and successful responses to COVID-19.

Why your employees don’t speak up

Research: Half of workers don’t feel comfortable to express concerns - and it’s usually because...