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What do YOU really want at work?

Editorial Team

In several recent interviews about his new book, What Americans Really Want…Really, renowned pollster Frank Luntz spells out what his research has uncovered.

Luntz says in general Americans want more money, more time, more choices, less hassles and no worries. From our employers, he says we want more respect.

Among the other nuggets:

• One-third of workers today are scared about losing their jobs.
• One in three Americans would see their savings wiped out within six weeks if they lost their jobs today.
• One in four families have been impacted by job loss in this recession.

One of the survey questions asked Americans to answer whether they’d rather earn a lot more money in a job they hate, or earn a lot less money in a job they love. A whopping 84 percent chose love over money.
We want to know what you’d say—and why? Would you opt for the less enjoyable job with a bigger paycheck or would you prefer for your compensation to take a backseat to more fulfilling work?


  1. Rosanne

    Having been through almost every scenario with past positions, I want:
    *Managers with integrity
    *A corporate culture which appreciates creativity, employee input and recognizes individual contributions
    *Flex time/ more vacation time within the first year
    *Equal compensation for everyone based on experience, position, educational background
    *Managers who continuously upgrade their leadership skills and share their vision for the organization

  2. Diane Cavanaugh

    I would like jobs listed on Careerbuilder and Monster to have to be real jobs. There is so much deception, and time wasted applying and scanning through, to find out they are multi-level marketing, Avon, and jobs that have been already filled. Also, they should not be able to list jobs more than once. Some list the same job 10 times. This is dishonest marketing!

  3. M.E.T.

    I am a legal assistant in a small law firm in the metro D.C. area. We had 3 secretaries and 6 attorneys in our department. When one secretary left in February, because of the economy, she was not replaced. The secretary who left (new job via her future in-laws) worked mainly for a very, how shall I put it, difficult attorney. I inherited her. She is a partner and I was already working for 2 other productive partners. I was putting in overtime (compensated) but it seemed as though I could never catch up. I came down with tingling hands symptoms in late July and saw a hand specialist in early August who said it was beginning stages of carpal tunnel. No let up at work. On August 12th a hand therapist gave me an “introduction” as to what would be happening in therapy and a set of exercises to do on the job. I was doing them every hour on August 13th but my tingling turned into stinging wrists. I have never cried ever on the job – but I ran home at 2:00 p.m. in tears as my wrists were stinging so badly. They didn’t let up all night. My son drove me to a different therapist the next day. I’ve been home on “family medical leave” since. I have to return to work November 6th or lose my job. I am not completely healed. In order to help me out the doctor wrote “return to work part time with restrictions and an outside ergonomic evaluation of my work station.” I will begin at 20 hours a week, but after 2 weeks I have to step up to 30 hours a week or else I won’t receive health benefits.
    Even if I completely heal on the job, I know well who I work for and there is a potential for recurrence if I am pushed.
    I’m scared & trying desperately to find another job; hopefully I will be able to handle 30 hours but under different bosses.
    I have changed my attitude and hope I can restrain my old conscientious work habits. Model workers are not rewarded in some work places. Right now my health and balance in my life is more important than anything else.

  4. Yinka

    I will take making less ( but not significantly less)at a job I love that accommodates a working mother with a new born and toddler, than making tons more at a depressing job that I hate that is so un-fulfilling ( I’ve been there!)

  5. Dmn

    As I grow older, peace of mind and a desire for fulfilling work is more important than the size of my paycheck. I am the sole parent/provider of a young teenager and have already “worked hard for the money” to pay for the bills, child care, camps, braces, pre-paid college, self-pay health insurance, etc. Doing this out of necessity, without joy, is not the example I want to set for my child. I’d like him to enjoy seeing my contentment as I age and not be burdened by my regrets. I am a baby-boomer who has been hit by unemployment, survived on and wiped out my savings and drew equity (sadly-but nonetheless thankful that I had it to use before real estate home values hit bottom). I will work until I drop, most likely, but my desire to “want to go to work” doing something I love, that uses the potential I was born with, is what motivates my process of looking for a new career. Stress is a killer and I want to check it at the door of my next “job”.

  6. Becky Valdez

    I would opt for less money and have a job I love. I have applied at places that pay less, but serve the community I like working with, doing what I enjoy doing, and am qualified – the problem is they don’t think I’ll stay and I don’t get hired.

  7. I would like to have a job, first of all. My ideal job, of course, would be to make enough to pay my bills plus a little extra. I do not want to make a ton of money doing something I don’t like, otherwise, I would have done that years ago when jobs were plentiful. Since most of our days are spent working, it’s more important for me to like what I do and work with people I enjoy working with.

  8. Audrey

    In an ideal situation I would choose a job that I would love. However there are many jobs that I would love to have but they simply do not pay the bills, I am single and support myself so I need to have a certain amount of money coming in each month to have even a modest life style. I have a BS in Social Work and helping people is my passion but jobs in that field do not pay enough to pay the bills much less put money aside for retirement and investing. I choose a job in a different area so I could earn money and support myself. I still do volunteer work to help people in need but I needed the career change to pay my own bills.

  9. V.C.

    My interests are varied enough that if I don’t absolutely love my job but it pays well, that would be okay with me because I would be able to find fulfillment in my other pursuits. However, what I am unable to tolerate is a well-paying job I hate that requires me to work an excessive amount of hours with little free time to pursue my other interests. In that case, I would definitely take the lower-paying job that I love.

  10. H. Veziroglu

    I shall be very happy if the headhunters and human resource managers consider recruiting more creative, and motivational minority women in the States. I would love a job that I would contribute. The organizational culture and people are important when you have a career change.

  11. Jeri

    I have worked very hard to attain my career level. I do not want to reduce my earnings. I want the CEOs / Presidents to reduce their earnings, as no one is worth the monies they are receiving today! I also want more empowerment in my role, as the norm seems to be micromanaging, disrespect, and abuse. It should not be “who you know” or “your sex and race” but “your qualifications to perform the tasks” that get you the position.

  12. Mrs. T

    I was laid off in 2006 and went back to school on Trade Act because my job went to Mexico, due to NAFTA. After I got my BA, I still couldn’t get a job, even with a 4.0 GPA, so I applied for a Graduate Assistant’s job and am now studying for my MBA. Even though I gross only $800 per month, I have never been happier; I may become a professional student.

  13. LGG

    I am the office manager for a small company. We are now down to 5 employees, working 4 days a week. In my opinion, we are weeks away from going out of business. At this point, I just want a job with job security.

  14. ttjobasi

    I had a job I hated for 18 years. To top it off, it did not even pay alot. Then I found a “better job”, and was laid off after 6 months. Now I can’t find any new job.
    Whether I will hate my next job is not even relevant. In this economy one is just lucky to get a job that will pay their bills.
    What a sad state of affairs, in the the land of opportunity.

  15. donna

    Honestly I would love to volunteer for a living for numerous organizations and work for nothing, that would be my life’s worth and dream job. To serve and help those in need. Compassion.
    The reality, I’m single and have been independent and successful my entire life with a great income and now in fear and panic that my unemployment benefits will be running out if the vote on the extension isn’t signed. I’ve been out of work for over a year, in a specialized field that no longer exists and wasn’t given the opportunity to advance with the latest technology. I was needed since no one else wanted to do my jog. Like magic it all disappeared very quickly.
    If I had a choice to do what I love to do instead of a fat paycheck I would pick what i love most.
    I’d be happy with a $10 an hour job at the moment.
    I need to pay the bills and have learned I can do without and it’s amazing how much you can stretch a dollar.

  16. Janis Gibbs

    I was really thinking about the question and I thought I could learn to love a job I hate. It depended on how much I really hated it and if it caused so much trauma and stress in my life to the point if affected my mental self and my health. The moment I saw the question I saw that I would take a job even if I hated it just a little and made more money to help me pay my bills and make other necessary purchases on the long-run. A lot depends on what kind of job it is.

  17. Bev

    I just want a job at this time. I have learned so much from past experiences, I am trying not to put too many stipulations on what I’m looking for. Work and a steady paycheck would really be – Welcomed!

  18. Mary

    I lost my job last year due to the economy and because I could not afford my rent, my family and I were evicted from our apartment. We were fortunate to have a friend that to stay with until my employment has improved. However, I am currently in a job that is not satisfying due to the fact that the Store Manager is incompetent. The pay is low and the hours of all of the workers have been cut from 20 per week to 14. Although I have been looking for a full time position for eight months, companies are not hiring. To make matters worse, I know that I can’t quit this position because job prospects are so low.
    I would like to see more reporting from the media regarding the problems of such as the ones discussed in all of the emails sent. Job Fairs, Monster and other job assistance websites are ineffective because they don’t offer REAL jobs or hourly salaries that can pay rent and food.

  19. Lauren

    I have a job with decent pay… not great but enough to take care of expenses. I have been there seven years. It is a family owned business and their family members are well compensated even though they don’t work there. But the biggest problem: I have boss who is a bully and makes me feel worthless. I work very hard, working late hours and not getting any breaks while others work typical hours and take a break every half hour. Plus now I am not doing what I was hired to do because I simply don’t have time with the workload that has been piled on. I am a great marketing analyst and researcher and would rather do it for a company that makes a difference in the world and appreciates that I matter.

  20. Maria Avery

    Looking back, I wish I had gone for more money then just what made me happy. I never made a great deal of money. My father always used to say, “Maria, you will have to work for the rest of your life, you may as well do something that you really enjoy.” By doing what I enjoy, it ilimanted a lot of additional stress. I am concerned about loosing my job and then finding another one, but I will deal with that when/if the time comes.

  21. Karen Hinson

    I remember my grandfather, grandmother, mother, and father, all worked at jobs they didn’t really like much less love. All worked in mills; textiles, bleachery, etc. But they sacrificed going to school to support us kids. We were middle class and were happy. Despite the hard conditions, they lived long lives. I know they made very close friends in those factories and perhaps that is what kept them going. I am a realist, and I know that the chances of doing what I’d love to do and get paid for it is slim. So, I am searching for whatever job(s) is out there that is in a growing industry. That of course does leave a lot of choices. So I am going to school in the medical field, something I really don’t care that much about deep down. But I am learning something new and hopefully it will pay off down the road. Everytime I study all this medical stuff, which is mostly memorizing, I think about my grandfather working in that horrible bleachery and my mother in that hosiery mill doing the same repetitive action, slicing nylon, my new career-to-be doesn’t seem so bad. I can always do what I love as a hobby, like I’ve been doing!

  22. Still_climbing

    After having my 13 year career with IBM abruptly end in January of this year, I discovered that one can do whatever it takes to survive. I got a job at our local hospital working 2nd shift housekeeping. Did I love it? Not particularly, but I did prove to management that I was willing to work; therefore, when the 2nd shift Networking/tech position came open, I applied and got the job. Do I love this job? Well, some aspects are better while others are not so good, but it is a job and I’m making the best of the situation.
    However, through all of this I have discovered what I have a passion for – I would love to be an Insurance Advocate. Someone who is willing to help company employees with their insurance concerns.

  23. DS

    I have worked for physicians in Management for 23 years now. It is very, very stressful and most days I absolutely dread coming to work. I have done such a great job that I tried to quit and they would not let me and in fact have reduced my hours for the same pay (that was 10 years ago). However even considering the 6 hour work days versus a 40 hour week I would take a pay cut to have a job where I would be happy and not stressed.

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