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Job Security and Benefits Most valued by Employees

SAN DIEGO—For the fourth year in a row, employees ranked job security and benefits as the top two “very important” contributors to job satisfaction over other factors such as career development, flexibility and compensation, according to the 2010 Employee Job Satisfaction survey report released June 27 by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) at its Annual Conference here.

HR professionals agreed on the importance of job security, ranking it second. However, for the last seven out of eight job satisfaction surveys fielded by SHRM, HR professionals have viewed an employee’s relationship with his or her immediate supervisor as the top contributor to employee satisfaction, selected by 72 percent of respondents for 2010. By comparison, less than half (48 percent) of employee respondents felt that such a relationship was very important, ranking it seventh.

Employees’ Top Five


HR Professionals’ Top Five

Job security


Relationship with supervisor



Job security

Opportunity to use skills/abilities


Communication between employees and senior management

The work itself (TIE)


Organization’s financial stability (NEW)

Organization’s financial stability (NEW)





Opportunity to use skills/abilities

A total of 25 elements of job satisfaction—grouped into categories related to career development, compensation and benefits, relationship with management, and work environment—were covered by the survey, which generated responses from 589 U.S.-based HR professionals and 606 U.S.-based employees.

According to the report, compensation/pay, a factor that has appeared on employees’ top five list each year since the survey’s inception, fell to fifth place for the first time. Compensation dropped out of HR professionals’ top five list for the first time in 2009 and now appears ninth on the list of most important contributors to job satisfaction.

Employees and HR professionals agree on certain factors. For example, “opportunity to use skills/abilities” has appeared in the top five for employees and HR professionals for the last three years, though employees bumped the factor up from fourth place to third in 2010, while HR professionals nudged it down from fourth place to fifth.

These movements are due in part to a new contributor to job satisfaction that respondents could select from in 2010—the organization’s financial stability. This factor immediately found a place among the top five job satisfaction factors—placing fourth for both employees and HR professionals.

Notably, for the first time since the survey was first fielded in 2002, benefits slipped slightly on HR professionals’ list, falling to seventh place even though the same percentage—60 percent—of HR professionals and employees agreed that benefits are “very important.”

When it comes to benefits, health care reigns supreme, according to employees and HR professionals, though paid time off was a close second. However, even though 65 percent of employees said such benefits were “very important,” just 38 percent said they were “very satisfied” with the health care/medical benefits provided by their employer. By comparison, 54 percent of employees said they were very satisfied with paid-time-off benefits.

Employers will want to consider these results as they evaluate the impact of health care reform on their benefits offerings.

Yet, it is important to note that employees do not derive satisfaction just from money and perks. “The work itself” tied for fourth place on the employee list in 2010, with 54 percent of respondents noting its importance—the largest percentage to date. Just 40 percent of employers selected this factor as very important, however, ranking it 13th on the list of 25 factors covered by the report.

Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.


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