SHRM Survey Shows Jump in Employees’ Satisfaction with Work

What is important to workers? Corporate culture and workplace relationships

Apr 28, 2015
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SAN DIEGO — U.S. workers are feeling good about their jobs again, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) discovered in its latest Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey. SHRM recorded the largest increase in the number of employees satisfied with their jobs since the survey was first conducted in 2002.

Released today at SHRM’s Talent Management Conference & Exposition in San Diego, the Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey showed that 86 percent of U.S. employees reported overall satisfaction with their job in 2014, an improvement of five percentage points over the year before.

At 86 percent, the percentage of employees happy in their work matches the highest level of satisfaction during the last 10 years. Since 2004, job satisfaction peaked at 86 percent in 2009 and then declined in the aftermath of the recession.

“We’re moving away from a period of uncertainty,” said Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs. “Organizations now have more flexibility in hiring and benefit offerings, and there is a renewed focus on retaining employees. At the same time, workers are more confident in the job market and are seeking out jobs that are more compatible with their needs and wants. It all adds up to a change in how workers view their work and greater satisfaction on the job.”

Infographic: What makes employees happy in their jobs?

As for what makes employees happy in their work, the top contributor to job satisfaction was “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels,” rated as very important by 72 percent of employees. “Trust between employees and senior management” came in at second at 64 percent.

This was the first year that these two factors were included in the survey. “Pay is important,” said Esen, who noted that it was rated as the fourth top contributor. “But workplace culture might mean more. Corporate culture and workplace relationships are held in higher esteem by workers as evidenced in this year’s survey.”

Benefits were rated as the third most important contributor to job satisfaction, with 63 percent of employees indicating that they were very important. With the exception of 2012, benefits have been among the top five contributors to job satisfaction since the survey began in 2002.

Among the other top contributors to job satisfaction were job security (noted as very important by 59 percent of respondents), relationship with immediate supervisor (58 percent), opportunities to uses skills and abilities (58 percent) and immediate supervisor’s respect for ideas (56 percent).

The annual SHRM survey also measured employee engagement — employees’ connection and commitment to their work and organization. It found that 79 percent of employees were satisfied with their relationships with co-workers, and 76 percent were satisfied with the contribution their work made to the employer’s business goals.

The survey also showed:

  • 92 percent of employees said they were confident that they could meet their work goals.
  • 88 percent said they were determined to accomplish their work goals.
  • 76 percent said they had a clear understanding of their organization’s vision and mission.
  • 74 percent said they were highly motivated by work goals, which is an increase of 10 percentage points from the year before.

“Workers have shown an increased preference for understanding their role and how it aligns with the success of an organization,” Esen said. “What’s important to employees now is a collaborative environment that encourages feedback and interaction among co-workers and between employees and their supervisors.”

The survey sample included 600 randomly selected individuals who were employed in full- or part-time roles. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

For additional findings, visit

Media: For more information, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6260 and or Vanessa Gray at 703-535-6072 and

About the Society for Human Resource Management
Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organization devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit SHRM Online at and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.

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