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Nevadans, are you unhappy with your job? If so, you're far from alone

A worker in a mask cleans as people avoid the Las Vegas Strip after casinos have been ordered to shut down due to the coronavirus Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Las Vegas.
John Locher
A worker in a mask cleans as people avoid the Las Vegas Strip after casinos have been ordered to shut down due to the coronavirus Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Las Vegas.

Lots of people aren’t happy in their jobs.

One survey says about 52 percent of workers nationwide are unhappy at work, and about 40 percent say they wouldn’t recommend their job to their worst enemy.

In Las Vegas, 59 percent of workers say pay and benefits are key to work satisfaction.

“This is a big issue here in Nevada, because a very large percent of the workforce here earns low wages,” said Molly Kinder, a fellow at the Brookings Institute who focuses on low-wage workers, women and people of color.

“A lot of people are struggling to provide economic security for their family, and one of the big job areas that really needs improvement is … child care workers, and home care workers.”

Kinder commended Nevada’s state budget that recently approved raises for home care workers.

“The role of government is to set a floor,” Kinder added. “It's to set a minimum wage to make sure it’s fair. There are sectors like the child care sector where the only way to raise wages is through the public sector, because it's the state government that sets reimbursement rates for these jobs.”


Dana Cotham, a business consultant and professor of employment law at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, stresses the important role that management plays in job fulfillment.

“The number one reported cause of dissatisfaction with job experience is unfair treatment at work. What's the silver bullet? Don't treat your people unfairly,” she said. “Crappy managers are what I'm reading and hearing as to what’s causing all of the stress and to me, it's fixable, but we're just not paying the money for the training.” 


There’s also a science to happiness, which is the focus of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. It’s been offering courses on the science of happiness since 2015, focusing on resilience, purpose, kindness, and engagement.

Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Science Director at the center, says the pandemic is a big reason people are viewing their jobs in a different light.

Before the pandemic, she said, businesses “were defined by a command-and-control leadership style, and the assumption that workers were sort of cogs in the wheel along the assembly line that could be replaced.”

During the pandemic, people started to realize their value. “We’re in this precious moment of deeper honesty and reflection. And we have the opportunity to reshape those norms for the better.”

Guests: Dana Cotham, consultant, employment law attorney and professor in residence at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law; Molly Kinder, fellow, Brookings Institute; Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director, Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley

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Christopher Alvarez is a news producer and podcast audio editor at Nevada Public Radio for the State of Nevada program, and has been with them for over a year.