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Job Satisfaction at Highest Level in Over Two Decades – But Still Room for Improvement

September 5, 2019

By Heather Nezich, courtesy SBAM Approved Partner ASE

54% of employees are satisfied with their jobConducted by The Conference Board, a new survey shows that about 54% of U.S. workers are satisfied with their employment. Satisfaction climbed by almost 3% from the prior year, which marks a near-record increase in the survey’s history. Workers also report being much more at ease about their job security. In addition, Millennials have experienced a surge in confidence regarding their wages.

The results, however, include some cautionary signs for management. Amid a strong jobs market where individuals can more easily find new work, survey participants gave weak marks to the most important driver of job satisfaction: their current job’s potential for future growth. In addition, over 60% feel dissatisfied with their organization’s recognition practices, performance review process, and communication channels. Men generally feel better than women about multiple financial components of their work, including wages and bonus plans.

Other highlights of the survey results include:

  • Nearly 54% of U.S. employees feel satisfied with their jobs. An improved labor market has played the main role in boosting job satisfaction, which has risen in each of the past eight years.

  • Survey participants ranked 23 components influencing satisfaction. Job security saw the biggest improvement, climbing by 5% from the prior year.

  • Satisfaction regarding wages rose 9.8% among those aged 35 and under. However, workers in their peak earning years—those between 33 and 54—remain most satisfied.

  • Employees are most pleased with their commute to work, followed by the people at work, interest in work, physical environment, job security, and supervisor.

  • Employees are least satisfied with their bonus plan, followed by promotion policy, performance review process, educational/job training programs, recognition/acknowledgement, and communication channels.

  • Which job components most influence satisfaction?  Potential for future growth matters most. Other major job influencers include communication channels, recognition/acknowledgement, interest in work, and the performance review process.

Wages rank only 10th out of 23 drivers of satisfaction. This finding agrees many other studies stating that employees are not motivated purely by salary.

Commutes don’t matter much. Despite reports about workers experiencing more stressful, sometimes longer commutes, travel to and from work generally plays a minimal role in influencing overall job satisfaction.

“Our research reveals that workers place the biggest premium on a job’s potential for future growth, but at the moment 60% of U.S. workers feel dissatisfied with this component,” noted Robin Erickson, PhD, an author of the report and a Principal Researcher at The Conference Board.

To improve overall job satisfaction, organizational leadership should consider the following actions:

  • Implement or enhance a total talent mobility program to demonstrate growth potential to employees.

  • Consider the transparency of communication channels and determine whether to make improvements.

  • Create or enhance an employee recognition program.

  • Ask employees whether they are inspired by their performance reviews and, if they aren’t, ask what would inspire them.

  • Monitor and decrease employees’ workload when necessary to foster more work/life balance.

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