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Keys to Employee Satisfaction
What You Can Do to Increase Employee Satisfaction
By Susan M. Heathfield, About.com Guide

Americans of all ages and income brackets continue to grow increasingly unhappy at work — a long-term trend that should seriously concern employers, according to a report by The Conference Board. The report, based on a survey of 5,000 U.S. households conducted for TheConference Board by TNS, finds only 45 percent of those surveyed say they are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61.1 percent in 1987, the first year in which the survey was conducted.
The Bad News About Employee Satisfaction
While overall employee satisfaction has declined to 45%, the percentage of employees satisfied with their jobs is lowest in the under 25 age group with only 35.7% satisfied.Among employees in the age group 25-34, 47.2% are satisfied; employees in the age group 35-44 scored 43.4% in job satisfaction. Employees in the 45-54 age range scored 46.8%; employees 55-64 scored in employee satisfaction at 45.6% and of those employees age 65 and over, 43.4% are satisfied.
Implications for Employers of Falling Employee Satisfaction
Employee satisfaction at work has decreasedsignificantly in the past twenty years, as these figures indicate – and I predict employee satisfaction will get worse in the next few years. A combination of events is creating a perfect storm affecting employee satisfaction.
A generation of employees who feel entitled to employee satisfaction has entered the workforce and several generations of employees for whom work never quite fulfilled theirdreams, are leaving. And, they are leaving in the worst of economic times which will affect their satisfaction with the rest of the quality of life they experience.
This downward trend in job satisfaction raises concerns about the overall engagement of U.S. employees and ultimately employee productivity, retention, creativity, risk-taking, mentoring, and in overall employee motivation andinterest in work.
“These numbers do not bode well given the multi-generational dynamics of the labor force,” says Linda Barrington, managing director, Human Capital, The Conference Board. “The newest federal statistics show that baby boomers will compose a quarter of the U.S. workforce in eight years, and since 1987 we’ve watched them increasingly losing faith in the workplace.” Twenty years ago,60% ofBaby Boomers were satisfied with their jobs; today only 46% are. Barrington expresses concern about the growing lack of employee satisfaction because of its potential impact on knowledge transfer to and mentoring for the next generations of employees.
According to the Conference Board’s survey results announcement, “The drop in job satisfaction between 1987 and 2009 covers all categories in thesurvey, from interest in work (down 18.9 percentage points) to job security (down 17.5 percentage points) and crosses all four of the key drivers of employee engagement: job design, organizational health, managerial quality, and extrinsic rewards.”
What Employers Can Do About Employee Satisfaction
In this environment for employee satisfaction, it is vitally important to know which factors mostaffect employee satisfaction. You want to spend your time, money, and energy on programs, processes, and factors that will have a positive impact on employee satisfaction. A 2009 survey, by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) looked at 24 factors that are regularly thought to relate to employee satisfaction. The study found that employees identified these five most important factors:* job security,
* benefits (especially health care) with the importance of retirement benefits rising with age of the employee,
* compensation/pay,
* opportunities to use skills and abilities, and
* feeling safe in the work environment.
The next five most important satisfaction factors for employees were:
* relationship with immediate supervisor,
* management...
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