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Employee Dissatisfaction Still the Norm in 2012 – Therein Lies Opportunity!

Respondents to the 2012 edition of The Conference Board Job Satisfaction Survey indicated higher levels of job satisfaction for the first time since the recession began in 2008, finding that 47.2% of Americans are “satisfied with their jobs,” a slight rise over the previous two years. However, while the 47.2 percent satisfaction level recorded in 2011 is a positive sign, it is far below the 61.1 percent satisfaction rate recorded in 1987, the first year the survey was conducted.

Of course, this study measured the mindset of people six months ago (the surveys were conducted by Nielsen Company last Fall.) A lot has happened in that short time that may have moved the meter further towards higher satisfaction levels, although we suspect it still hovers just under 50%.

In our work, we see the improvement

Our own anecdotal tracking through the plans our clients share with us, and the results of the work we have been doing with their employees, tells us that people are increasingly coming to terms with the “new economic realities” post-real-estate-boom: Slower year-to-year growth, and a loss of the “home equity wealth effect,” but they are also gaining confidence in job security and see a returning potential for career growth.

  • This highlights once again the competitive advantage that organizations gain when they invest aggressively in employee development and engagement.
  • It also shines a light on the advantages that individual employees obtain when they set themselves apart by deciding on their own to be more engaged, action-oriented and forward-focused.

Disgruntlement Still Reigns

The report notes that, compared to the 1980s and ’90s, widespread dissatisfaction has been entrenched since the turn of the century.

“While we are seeing positive movement in the right direction, particularly as approximately 8 percent of U.S. citizens are unemployed, this trend may signal increased satisfaction with simply having a job rather than demonstrate increased engagement or happiness,” said Rebecca Ray, Ph. D., Senior Vice President of Human Capital at The Conference Board. “The good news is that there are bright spots here, particularly regarding the internal initiatives and actions that chief human resources officers and their teams can drive through organizations and have large impacts.”

Exactly! Those who invest in engagement see huge productivity benefits, often returning 10 times the investment made in training, coaching and mentoring.

Where did the report find specific reasons for the rise in satisfaction?

  • Job security
  • Wages
  • Promotion policies
  • Educational/job training
  • Bonus plans
  • Higher interest in their jobs
  • Better relationships with fellow employees
  • Higher level of recognition and acknowledgment from supervisors

All these higher assessments reflect the over many job aspects that were rated more favorably in 2011 than in 2010.

The Conference Board press release dealt in more detail with specific areas that you may find interesting:

  • Job Satisfaction More Positive for Younger Workers, More Negative for Older Workers
  • Job Satisfaction Varies by Income
  • More Employees Satisfied with Job Security and Wages; But Healthcare Plans, Workload and Commute Remain Sore Points
  • More Satisfied in Texas, Less so In New York

What do you think? Have we turned the corner? Will the satisfaction levels that the Conference Board survey measures next Fall pop above 50% at last?



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