College Grad? Bored at Work? It's Not Your Fault

PHOTO: A new report from Gallup found that college-educated employees feel less engaged at work than those with a high-school diploma.P_Wei/Getty Images
A new report from Gallup found that college-educated employees feel less engaged at work than those with a high-school diploma.

So you think that college degree will result in a rewarding job that will challenge and stimulate you? Not so fast.

American workers with college degrees are less likely than those with high school diplomas to feel engaged with their jobs, according to a new report from Gallup Education. It's not some anomaly that applies to a narrow group of people like recent graduates, either. The trend holds true across all age and income levels.

Polling participants with college educations were less likely to agree with the following statement: "At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day."

That might sound egotistical and self-aggrandizing, but numbers actually show many college graduates are indeed overqualified for the jobs they hold. A study last January by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity found that nearly half of all employed college graduates have jobs that don't actually require a college degree.

Gallup found that fewer than a third of American workers are emotionally invested in their work. Engagement is lowest for college-educated transportation workers. (No one likes the DMV.)

Among both the college-educated and those with a high school diploma, engagement is highest for those in managerial or executive positions. Those workers tend to have far more control over their own work than their subordinates do.

The survey results aren't a laughing matter, Gallup notes: Bored workers could be hurting the economy.

"As workplace engagement is itself a key to economic growth," reads the report, "a workforce with so many highly educated workers who are either not engaged or actively disengaged is bad for the U.S. economy."

Gallup says colleges need to do a better job of preparing students to get jobs that engage them. That means being honest with students about what job opportunities are out there, and what they're qualified to do, well before graduation. Students need to know which majors will lead to which jobs. Obviously, employers also need to work on creating engaging workplaces. Supervisors should actually give the impression they care about their workers and not just demand higher output, for instance.

There's an upside for college graduates, though. While they may have a harder time finding a job they find engaging, they're also less likely to be trapped in a mundane job, because a degree opens up more employment options.

What do you think? Does your experience fit with the Gallup report? We want to know: Let us know in the comments section.