"Work sucks. " You've probably heard someone you know say that. You might have said it yourself. And according to Chris Zefferys, a human-resources...

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“Work sucks.”

You’ve probably heard someone you know say that. You might have said it yourself.

And according to Chris Zefferys, a human-resources consultant based in Seattle, that phrase is so prevalent it indicates a “crisis” is facing corporate America.

“My research indicates the statistics are alarming,” said Zefferys, founder of Jetfessional, a human-resources consulting agency that works with employers to solve job dissatisfaction and employee-retention problems.

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He reports that “nearly 50 percent of workers are dissatisfied with their jobs, a figure that has steadily climbed since 1995.”

The increase comes in part from the fact that “today’s 20-something generation has a sense of entitlement and doesn’t hesitate to change jobs,” said the consultant, who is 27 years old. “My research also indicates that the highest rate of job dissatisfaction is in the preretirement years — and baby boomers are maturing.”

The problem, as Zefferys sees it, is that “throughout their careers, many people are underchallenged, overworked and most definitely undervalued. It’s a crisis because the numbers are so alarming and as the job market improves the rate of job change also is increasing.”

Zefferys has faced this problem himself. “I got what I thought was a good job as an account executive in an advertising agency when I was graduated from college,” said the consultant, who has an undergraduate degree in business administration. “But before too long I had to confront the realities of work — having to work astronomical hours, being passed over for promotion.”

He quit that job. “And then, I found another job exactly like the other one, always working with bad managers,” Zefferys said.

The consultant was frustrated, and that was when he, too, began to feel that “work sucks.”

But he came up with a solution: He decided to start his own business to address the issue of job dissatisfaction and the resulting turnover, “which is a huge expense to employers.” And hard on employees, too.

Zefferys, whose work no longer “sucks,” now focuses on new entrants to the job market, his own age group.

And he urges workers to take command of their jobs.

“Set an objective you want to pursue and pursue it,” he advised. “Make sure the details and responsibilities of your job are clear — mine weren’t. Ask for feedback. Find a mentor. Get out of the rut you’re in by working toward your goals and moving forward. And if the job still sucks, if you feel so alienated you don’t want to work there anymore, it’s time to move on to a place where your needs will be met.”

But employers have a role, too. Zefferys urges management to “become employee advocates. Step up to the plate and help develop workers.”

E-mail questions to Carol Kleiman at ckleiman@tribune.com. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.