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Employee satisfaction up; job security down

Michelle Hicks

Watching Wall Street, watching Europe, watching Greece – makes us all feel a bit like we’re watching a picture within a picture within a picture – indefinitely. There is no light at the end of the unstable economic tunnel. This reluctant recovery is keeping all of us, including our work force, on pins and needles.

The uncertainty was clearly reflected in a recent SHRM 2011 Employee Job Satisfaction Survey. The good news is that more employees actually report they are feeling more satisfied with their jobs. However, one in three workers report they are still very insecure about job security, compensation, benefits and their employer’s financial security.

The key findings were reported recently at a national SHRM conference.

Some of the factors that seem to influence job satisfaction and employee engagement are training and career development. However, those areas appear to be very low on the list of employer priorities.

“Employees are not as tuned in to their organization as in the past. If I’m not getting the extra training, development or advancement, why would I do anything extra for the company?” asks one of the researchers, Mark Schmit.

The SHRM study appears to align pretty well to a poll conducted last spring by Gallup-Healthways. It showed U.S. job satisfaction measurements continue to struggle to recover to 2008 levels. The study also showed job satisfaction is the lowest for blacks and Hispanics and is much lower for men than for women.

Job satisfaction is a broad measurement of how content workers are with their jobs – a driver of productivity.

Factors that contribute to low satisfaction may be workload, unresponsive leadership and a sense of fewer rewards.

Employers keen to turn around this tide need to remain vigilant about transparency, keeping two-way communication flowing. Be mindful of reporting on the state of the business and the contributing factors for success or not meeting certain goals. Help employees understand how their roles within the organization contribute directly toward meeting business objectives. And when financial rewards are not accessible, encourage all of management to demonstrate their appreciation openly and in a setting of peers.

It could be that stagnant recovery is a new reality that we all need to live with for the long haul. Accepting it, understanding the impact on your work force and managing it will help both your employees and your organization move forward.

Michelle Hicks is a communications consultant with Buck Consultants.

About Michelle Hicks