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HR Magazine: From the President

By Susan Meisinger  10/1/2007
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HR Magazine: October 2007Vol. 52, No. 10

Job Satisfaction: A Key To Engagement and Retention

It is generally believed that high levels of employee satisfaction translate into increased employee commitment, productivity and retention for organizations. However, if employees are dissatisfied with their jobs, trouble lies ahead. Low job satisfaction is associated with higher levels of absenteeism, decreased productivity and increased turnover -- three conditions that organizations can ill afford in today's highly competitive search for talent.

To gauge current satisfaction levels in the workplace, the Society for Human Resource Management interviewed employees and HR professionals for our 2007 Job Satisfaction Survey Report. The report offers insights that can help HR professionals better understand employee attitudes and preferences when developing programs and policies.

And as some of the survey findings indicate, better understanding is needed: According to employees, the top five "very important" aspects of job satisfaction were compensation, benefits, job security, work/life balance, and communication between employees and senior management.

HR professionals' top five were relationship with immediate supervisor, compensation, management recognition of employee job performance, benefits, and communication between employees and senior management.

While HR professionals agreed with employees on three of the top five components of job satisfaction, the rankings revealed different perspectives between the two groups. For example, HR professionals viewed employees' relationships with their immediate supervisors as the most important aspect of employee job satisfaction, while employees placed it eighth on their list. Similarly, HR professionals perceived management recognition of employee job performance to be more important to job satisfaction than employees themselves did (65 percent and 49 percent, respectively).

In general, the survey report showed that HR professionals perceived several factors to be more important to employees than employees did. In each of SHRM's job satisfaction surveys since 2002, HR professionals predicted that "relational" aspects had a higher priority in employee job satisfaction than employees indicated. HR professionals" responses suggest that their perceptions of employee satisfaction reflect traditional "HR thinking" regarding employee needs for communication and recognition. To be sure, "people issues" clearly are important to employees. However, it remains a challenge for HR professionals to balance the relational aspects of job satisfaction with tangible rewards, such as benefits, compensation, job security and flexibility.

SHRM job satisfaction surveys consistently show that, although HR professionals generally agree with the aspects most important to employees -- benefits and compensation, they allow these factors to be overshadowed by issues that are not the most relevant to employees. It is important that HR professionals constantly be aware of the most immediate concerns of employees. If these are overlooked, retaining top talent -- already a major challenge for organizations -- will become even more difficult.

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