Workplace Satisfaction Issues: Problems & Solutions

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  • 0:01 Middle Adulthood
  • 0:58 Glass Ceiling
  • 2:13 Burnout
  • 4:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Because adults spend so much of their waking life at work, it is a major part of most adults' lives. Watch this lesson to find out more about issues that can occur in the workplace, including the glass ceiling and job burnout.

Middle Adulthood

Brenda should be on top of the world. She's in her forties and has a happy marriage and two kids who are in high school. She has been working at the same company for years and has gotten two different promotions so that now she's a middle manager in charge of a small team of employees.

But lately, Brenda is feeling frustrated and depressed when she thinks about work. She's not sure exactly what's wrong, only that she doesn't like going into work anymore. Brenda is in middle adulthood, also called middle age, which is the time of life between ages 40 and 65. During this time, many people are at the peak of their career and making more money than they ever have before. But there are also some issues that can occur in the workplace during middle age. Let's look at two issues common in middle adulthood: the glass ceiling and job burnout.

Glass Ceiling

Brenda has been at the same company for years, and she's done pretty well. She's gotten two different promotions and has moved up to middle management. But two other people who started at the same time that she did have been promoted above her. One of them is even her boss now. And to make matters worse, they're both men.

Many women in middle adulthood find that they are bumping up against the glass ceiling, or the inability of women and other minorities to move into the upper ranks of management. The glass ceiling is a term that was coined in the 1980s to discuss why women often are not promoted past middle management. For example, Brenda is just as smart, educated, and hard-working as her male counterparts, but they keep getting promoted while her career has stagnated.

Discrimination based on gender or race is illegal, but it is very difficult to prove. If Brenda accuses her employer of not promoting her because she's a woman, they might claim that the men they promoted above her were just better for the job in some way. That can be as frustrating as the discrimination itself.


The glass ceiling and frustration over it are just two of several factors that can contribute to further problems at work. For example, Brenda is feeling frustrated and depressed and just doesn't want to go into work anymore.

Another problem in middle age that commonly affects professionals is burnout, or the feeling of dissatisfaction, frustration, and weariness at a job.

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