Three in 10 Employees Are Likely Looking for a Job Elsewhere in 2010

Jun 28, 2010
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Three in 10 Employees Are Likely Looking for a Job Elsewhere in 2010

SAN DIEGO − Though 84 percent of employees are generally satisfied with their current job, one in three will likely seek employment elsewhere this year according to the 2010 Employee Job Satisfaction Research Report, released today by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) at its 62nd Annual Conference and Exposition in San Diego.

A closer look at those generally satisfied shows that 40 percent are overall “very satisfied” while 44 percent are “somewhat satisfied”, leaving elements unfulfilled that may fuel a job search.

The current economy plays a role, too — though 51 percent of employees say the weak economy has made no difference in their sense of job satisfaction, 28 percent report being less satisfied. Roughly one in five employees, or 21 percent, reported being more satisfied.

“Although job satisfaction may be generally high and the economy is improving, organizations continue to make cuts to save costs,” said Mark Schmit, director of research at SHRM. “If these cuts cause employees to have job security fears, or apprehension about possible changes to company benefits, they may seek another job out of a sense of necessity. Employers should pay close attention to all aspects of employee satisfaction as the economy improves.”

Fear of layoffs is also decreasing as only 16 percent of employees expressed concerned for their job in light of the current economy, down from 22 percent in 2009.

Job security is the top-ranked aspect in overall job satisfaction with 63 percent of employees reported it the most important feature. Employee benefits ranked second with 60 percent of employees reporting such followed by the 56 percent who noted opportunities to use skills and abilities as key to job satisfaction.

The rankings also show a disconnect between employees and HR regarding what employees value most (see chart) and provide key information to consider in cultivating workplace culture.

HR professionals say employees most value one’s relationship with their immediate supervisor while employees report it doesn’t crack the top-five most important features to job satisfaction.

While HR professionals and employees continue to rank aspects of job satisfaction somewhat differently, both groups agreed that an “organization's financial stability”, included for the first time as an answer option in the 2010 survey, is a key component.

Employees' Top 5

HR Professionals' Top 5

1.    ​Job security (63 percent)

1.      Relationship with immediate supervisor (72 percent)

2.     Benefits (60 percent)

2.      Job security (69 percent)

3.      Opportunities to use skills and abilities (56 percent)

3.      Communication between employees and senior management (65 percent)

4.      The work itself; organization's financial stability (54 percent - tied)

4.      Organization's financial stability (64 percent)

5.      Compensation/ pay (53 percent)

5.      Opportunities to use skills and abilities (62 percent)

Other key findings in SHRM’s 2010 Employee Job Satisfaction Research Report include:

  • The most common factors in increasing employees’ sense of job security include utilizing professional abilities and skills (49 percent), recognizing the importance of the employee’s job to an organization’s success (42 percent), and management efforts to avoid layoffs (38 percent).
  • The majority of women (70 percent) rate health care and medical benefits as being important to job satisfaction, though only 37 percent of female employees report being very satisfied with their current benefits.
  • Since SHRM began measuring employee job satisfaction, it has increased from 77 percent in 2002 and 2004 to 86 percent in 2009 and 84 percent in 2010.
  • Does gender impact job satisfaction? Both men and women included job security and benefits in their top three aspects of job satisfaction, but women rounded out their top three with feeling safe in the work environment (61 percent), while men placed opportunities to use skills and abilities (55 percent) in second place.
  • Marital status and job satisfaction. More married men (32%) than married women (20%) reported feeling less satisfied with their current job as a result of difficult economic conditions.

The survey, published annually by SHRM since 2002, gathers information on 25 aspects of employee job satisfaction, divided into four key topics: career development; relationship with management; compensation and benefits; and work environment. The 2010 survey highlights responses from 589 randomly selected HR professional who are members of SHRM and 606 randomly selected employees.

To read this survey: Follow SHRM research on Twitter at


About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at

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