U.S. Job Satisfaction Continues Upward Trend

Jun 22, 2008
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U.S. Job Satisfaction Continues Upward Trend

Annual survey finds ‘job security’ most important aspect of satisfaction

CHICAGO – More than 40 percent of employees report they are very satisfied with their jobs, according to the 2008 Job Satisfaction survey report released today by the world’s largest human resources organization. Eight out of 10 employees report overall satisfaction.

The annual national survey of employees was released here at the 60th Annual Conference of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), attended by more than 13,000 HR professionals.

The percentage of very satisfied employees rose from 38 percent in 2007 to 41 percent this year. The figure has remained relatively consistent since SHRM first conducted this survey in 2002, with 30 percent responding very satisfied. The overall satisfaction score—82 percent this year—was 79 percent last year, and 77 percent in 2002.

In this year’s survey, female employees reported higher levels of job satisfaction than men, as did employees aged 56 and older, compared with those 35 and younger.

This year’s unstable economic climate is reflected in employees’ perceptions of job security (59 percent), where it was cited as the top aspect of satisfaction. Ranked in importance, it was followed by benefits, compensation, feeling safe in the workplace, communication between employees and senior management, and opportunities to use skills and abilities. These results were similar to last year’s findings.

“HR professionals help their organizations unleash the power of human capital,” said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of SHRM. “Therefore, as organizations prepare for a changing workforce, it’s critical that those professionals be aware of the issues that contribute to employee motivation and satisfaction.”

One significant difference in this year’s findings was the decrease in the importance of “work/life balance” by employees, compared to 2002 and 2007. It reached its lowest average level in the history of the survey. Contrary to previous years, this aspect dropped out of the top five list for employees: 44 percent of employees reported that work/life balance is a very important aspect of job satisfaction, compared to 62 percent in 2002.

Key findings of the job satisfaction survey:

• For employees 35 and younger, compensation was the most important job satisfaction factor. For those over 35, job security was most important. And for employees 56 and older, job security was tied with feeling safe in the workplace.

• The size of the organization influences job satisfaction: employees of smaller organizations most often cited job security as very important, while those in larger companies perceived benefits as very important.

• The top-five ranking of “opportunities to use skills and abilities” reflects the higher priority that employee development must have in the near future, as organizations are facing expanding challenges in attracting, developing, motivating, and retaining top talent.

• As in past surveys, HR professionals predicted several aspects of job satisfaction to be more important to employees than was actually reported by employees. For instance, HR professionals typically place a higher priority on relational aspects, such as how an employee works with his or her immediate supervisor, and management recognition of employee job performance.

• The most common method of determining employee job satisfaction is through exit interviews, conducted when employees are leaving the organization.

The job satisfaction survey has been conducted annually by SHRM since 2002. This year’s survey results reflect the opinions of 601 employees and 685 HR professionals. A complete copy of the survey is available at www.shrm.org/surveys.


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 245,000 members in over 130 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 U.S. and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM at www.shrm.org.

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