The Importance of Job Satisfaction in Today’s Workforce

Employee dissatisfaction is a major concern for businesses. Billions of dollars are lost each year because of high turnover. According to studies, the situation can be improved by increasing workplace engagement.

To learn more, checkout the infographic below created by University of Southern California's Online Masters of Science in Applied Psychology degree program.

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Job Satisfaction in the US

Surveys since 2005 reveal that the majority of Americans aren't satisfied with their work. This mirrors the level of engagement in the workplace with many simply not feeling particularly excited about what they are doing. The trend is fairly consistent across different generations from the Millennials to the Gen X'ers to the Baby Boomers. Engagement ranges from 29 percent to 33 percent while non-engagement swings from 48 percent to 55 percent. Those who are actively disengaged comprise 16 percent to 19 percent of the respondents. The trend indicates that excitement wears off as time goes by.

There are a number of reasons why employees are unhappy. Many are unsatisfied with their compensation. They feel that they deserve more given the work that they do so they feel as if they are undervalued. This often leads to a search for greener pastures. Many are also unsatisfied with the career advancement opportunities available to them. They might feel stuck in the same place with no prospect of moving ahead or growing as a person. This leaves them unfulfilled knowing that they have more to offer. Some are not satisfied with the management's recognition of their performance. They want their efforts to be appreciated.

In a lot of cases, the problem stems from distrust between employees and senior management. Certain promises might have been made only to be broken later on. This makes people skeptical of future pronouncements. They won't act according to the wishes of the management. Indeed, it's not only those at the very top who keep disappointing the workers. Immediate supervisors are often cited as the cause of much unhappiness in the workplace. Great bosses are hard to find. Others are simply unsatisfied with the nature of their work as they find it unfulfilling. Some are worried about their job security.

Aspects Contributing to Burnout

Up to 40 percent of American workers report feeling job burnout. They cite workload as the biggest reason. When there's just too much to do, it takes a toll. Time pressure is another massive contributor. Everyone knows how stressful it can be to keep chasing deadlines. A lot of people point to manager pressure. Their jobs are already difficult but having an unsympathetic boss makes things much more complicated. The absence of job security also adds to the anxiety, driving people to push themselves past their limits.

Important Factors for Satisfaction and Engagement

Employees are more likely to be satisfied if there's respectful treatment at all levels, competitive compensation, excellent benefits, job security, and established trust. They tend to have higher engagement scores when they are confident about meeting work goals and are determined to do so. They should have a clear understanding of the company's vision and mission. A good working relationship must be developed between peers. They should also have opportunities to showcase their skills and abilities.

Employee Retention

When people are unhappy with their jobs, they leave to search for other opportunities. Companies then have to find replacements right away and train their new hires. This can be costly if there is a high turnover rate. In fact, it is estimated that poor performance and retention costs businesses roughly $500 billion every year. A study found that 33 percent of Americans would take to a recruiter if approached even if they were happy with their current job. About 30 percent of young employees expect to have a new job by the end of the year.

The good news is that employers can do something to reduce the bleeding. According to research, employees who are engaged in their jobs are less likely to look elsewhere. A 20 percent raise would tempt 54 percent of actively disengaged employees but only 37 percent of the engaged employees. The differences are profound. In workplaces where engagement is high, there are less safety incidents, fewer quality defects, lower rates of patient safety issues, less absenteeism, reduced customer shrinkage, higher profitability, greater productivity, and higher customer ratings.

Strategies for Improvement

Changes have to be made to increase employee satisfaction. At the top of the priority list should be compensation. Financial incentives are still the primary motivator. The majority says that they would be happier if their employer were to increase their salary. Next on the list is the ability to make a difference. This is particularly important to Millennials. They want their work to have meaning or at least have opportunities to make a positive social impact. They feel more fulfilled as a person when they get the chance to contribute in social and environmental projects. Their loyalty to the company also increases.

Flexibility is another important issue. They would like more flexible scheduling arrangements so that they can attend to other areas of their life like family. About 29 percent of workers resign due to work overload and lack of a healthy work-life balance. Given the available technologies today, this isn't out of reach for most employers. Some days could be spent working at home with outputs send via the Internet. People can care for their sick loved ones or be with their young children while still being productive. Efficiency may be measured by the quality of the output instead of the clock.

There should also be multiple opportunities for growth. People want to feel like their career is progressing in direct proportion to their efforts. They like to work in companies that can provide them with chances to advance in various ways. Currently, only 57 percent of employees feel satisfied with the opportunities in their organization. They want to be recognized for their accomplishments, as well. Overwhelming majorities say that they don't mind working beyond their usual hours if they feel valued. They would certainly be happier if their employer were to provide more recognition. This increases their motivation to perform.