A Survey Reportby the Society forHuman ResourceManagement 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying
About This Survey Report In January 2009, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted the Job Satisfaction Survey with a sample of employees and a sample of HR professionals. It is an annual survey that has been conducted since 2002. The objective of the Job Satisfaction Series is to iden- tify and understand factors important to overall employee job satisfaction from the perspectives of both employees and HR professionals. This knowledge helps HR professionals better understand and appreciate employee preferences when developing programs and policies that can influence employee satisfaction. The survey explored 24 aspects of employee job satisfaction divided into four topic areas—career development, relationship with management, compensation and benefits, and work environment. Employees and HR professionals were also asked about how the current financial crisis in the United States and globally was affecting employee job satisfaction.Media Contact About SHRMJulie Malveauxjulie.firstname.lastname@example.org The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted(703) 535-6273 to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profes- sion. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org. USA India SHRM SHRM India 1800 Duke Street 702, 7th Floor Alexandria, VA 22314 Raheja Towers Phone: (800) 283-7476 Plot C- 62, G Block Fax: 703-535-6432 Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (E) E-mail: email@example.com Mumbai 400051 Maharashtra Tel: +91-22-42472000 China Fax: +91-22-42472010 Beijing Representative Ofﬁce SHRM Corporation 5/F, South Block, Tower C Online Raycom Info Tech Park SHRM Online: www.shrm.org No.2, Kexueyuan South Road SHRM Research: www.shrm.org/research Zhongguancun, Haidian District SHRM Survey Findings: www.shrm.org/surveys Beijing, 100190 Tel: +86-10-59822093 / 59822146 To order printed copies of this report, visit Fax: +86-10-59822588 www.shrmstore.shrm.org or call 1-800-444-5006.
Contents1 Executive Summary: Has the U.S. Recession Affected Employee Job Satisfaction?3 The Different Perspectives of Employees and HR Professionals5 Survey Results 5 Job Satisfaction Aspects in Order of Importance to Employees 8 Top Five Very Important Aspects of Job Satisfaction 8 Job Security 8 Beneﬁts 11 Compensation/Pay 12 Opportunities to Use Skills/Abilities 13 Feeling Safe in the Work Environment 15 Results of Other Individual Job Satisfaction Aspects 15 Career Development 15 Career Advancement Opportunities Within Organization 16 Career Development Opportunities 16 Job-Speciﬁc Training 17 Networking 17 Organization’s Commitment to Professional Development 18 Paid Training and Tuition Reimbursement 18 Employee Relationship With Management 18 Communication Between Employees and Senior Management 21 Autonomy and Independence 21 Management Recognition of Employee Job Performance 21 Relationship With Immediate Supervisor 22 Work Environment 22 Flexibility to Balance Life and Work Issues 23 Meaningfulness of Job 23 Organization’s Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility 24 Organization’s Commitment to a ‘Green’ Workplace 24 Overall Corporate Culture 25 Relationship With Co-Workers 25 Contribution of Work to Organization’s Business Goals 26 The Work Itself 26 Variety of Work 26 Overall Employee Job Satisfaction 28 Employee Satisfaction With Individual Job Aspects30 Conclusions31 Methodology 31 Notations33 About the Respondents
2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying 1Executive Summary:Has the U.S. Recession Affected Employee Job Satisfaction?Research indicates that employees who are satisfied were exit interviews, feedback from employees’with their jobs are more likely to stay with their em- performance reviews, speaking with employees on an It is notployers. According to this survey, 86% of employees individual basis, tracking turnover data and conduct- surprisingindicated overall satisfaction with their current posi- ing employee attitude surveys. that duringtion, with 41% of employees reporting they were very the currentsatisfied. What’s more, majority of employees (58%) What Do These Findings Mean forreported that the current economic climate has not Employers? economicmade any difference in their level of satisfaction—and downturn,this is good news for employers, especially during the Conduct Environmental Scanning: Identifying employees the external forces or trends that affect the organiza-economically challenging time. selected job tion is an integral part of the organization’s strategicIt is not surprising that during the current economic plan. Through a process called environmental scan- security fordownturn, which some have compared to the 1929 ning, organizations systematically gather and analyze the secondGreat Depression, employees selected job security for all relevant data about external opportunities and consecutivethe second consecutive year as the most important threats that may affect them at present and in the year asaspect of their job satisfaction. It was also at the top future. Examples of external forces include chang- the mostof HR professionals’ list this year for the first time. ing demographics, economic conditions, emerging importantBenefits, compensation/pay, opportunities to use skills marketplaces, advances in technology and increased aspect ofand abilities and feeling safe in the work environment global competition. Organizations can then use theserounded off employees’ top five very important job data to evaluate their mission/vision, develop goals their jobsatisfaction contributors—nearly identical to the top and develop/train employees. satisfaction.five of 2008 (see Table 1). Tap Into Available Talent: Opportunities to useFactors that were not strongly connected to em- skills and abilities were ranked among the top fiveployees’ overall job satisfaction were organization’s aspects of job satisfaction for employees. Employeecommitment to a ‘green’ workplace, networking, career development will likely take a higher priority fordevelopment opportunities, paid training and tuition organizations in the near future. Although the jobreimbursement programs, and organization’s commit- market might appear to be saturated due to the cur-ment to professional development. rent downturn in the economy, several demographic trends (e.g., Baby Boomers retiring around the sameOther noteworthy findings include the following: time, aging population and shortage of highly skilled workers) will have a major impact on the workplace Employees whose organizations had been some- over the next decade, particularly on talent manage-what affected by the current financial crisis were more ment. HR professionals are in a position to preparesatisfied overall with their current jobs compared with their organizations for the future by developingemployees whose organizations had been greatly af- programs that will motivate, develop and boost skillfected by the recession. levels of employees. Cross-training, mentoring, vol- unteering, etc., are low-cost programs that organiza- Nearly three out of 10 employees were very satis- tions can adopt during times of fiscal constraints.fied with their compensation/pay. The most common methods companies used Open the Communication Door: HR profes-to measure and monitor employee job satisfaction sionals have always rated factors from “the relation-
2 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying ship with management” category of job satisfaction aspects among their top five contributors to employee job satisfaction. Effective communication between se- nior management and employees is important. It will help employees understand the organization’s busi- ness goals, policies and vision, and keep employees informed about what is going on in the organization. Senior management can keep employees well- informed through companywide meetings and the use of technology in top-to-bottom communications (e.g., CEO blog, intranet mechanisms and e-mails). Organizations should also encourage communication from the bottom-up through employee feedback, suggestions, etc.
2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding The Factors That Make Work Gratifying 3The Different Perspectives of Employees and HR ProfessionalsThe recruitment and retention of qualiﬁed, skilled need to know that the programs they are promotingemployees is the foundation of any business, small for employees are indeed important to them. Oneor large. Research indicates that employees who way for HR professionals to gauge their knowledgeare satisﬁed with their jobs are more likely to stay of employee needs is to recognize the degree towith their employers. Keeping a cadre of happy and which their perceptions are accurate when matchedmotivated employees, however, is often elusive as up against employees’ perceptions. While collectingthe expectations of employees shift. These changing only employee data on job satisfaction would pro-expectations stem from demographic trends, such vide useful information for HR professionals, anotheras growing numbers of Generation Y employees piece of the puzzle is found in a direct comparison of(those born after 1981) and women entering the the two groups’ perceptions.workforce, the retirement of Baby Boomers (thoseborn between 1945 and 1964), caring for elderly In order to make meaningful comparisons, it isparents, and more general changes in society, such important to consider the employees representedas increased stress levels as employees attempt in this study. HR professionals were asked to reportto juggle work and personal responsibilities. As life on employees in their organizations, i.e., the entirebecomes more challenging, employees may become workforce, including both exempt and nonexemptmore stressed. Therefore, the factors long thoughtto satisfy employees may be shifting, depending on workers. With this in mind, it is accurate to say thatattributes such as the gender and age of employees. the proﬁle of employees from the HR professionals’ perspective tends to be a more generalized andIn addition to demographic factors, the economic inclusive category.landscape in which most U.S. and global compa-nies are operating is of particular interest this year. Employee data were analyzed by demographicEmployees go to work not knowing what to expect; variables such as employee age, gender and jobhiring freezes and layoffs lead to taxed resources tenure. These types of analyses are useful becauseand diminished employee morale. they highlight that not all employees have the same preferences with respect to job satisfaction. HR pro-HR professionals are an important organizational fessionals who are aware of the needs of differentlink to the human capital embodied by employees. groups by age, gender and job tenure may be ableTherefore, as organizations face ﬁscal constraints, to develop programs that appeal to certain groupsthe role of HR becomes even more crucial in helping more than others. For example, if an organizationcompanies balance the necessity to reduce operat- has high turnover among employees 35 years ofing costs while maintaining employee motivation and age and younger, it would be useful to know whatsatisfaction on the job. factors affect their satisfaction the most and how theThis report compares the responses of HR profes- organization can offer programs that appeal to thissionals and employees in an effort to understand segment of its workforce.the similarities and differences between these twovantage points. HR professionals are strategically ELEMENTS OF JOB SATISFACTIONprimed to serve as a voice for employees. In addi- The following 24 elements of job satisfaction, andtion, as individuals most heavily involved in recruit- eight special compensation and beneﬁts elements,ment, retention and performance management, HR are examined in this report:professionals beneﬁt by knowing which factors em-ployees value most. Yet, this is sometimes difﬁcult Career Developmentbecause understanding what satisﬁes employees is 1. Organization’s commitment to professionala dynamic and evolving process. HR professionals development
4 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding The Factors That Make Work Gratifying 2. Career advancement opportunities within the Work Environment organization 15. Feeling safe in the work environment 3. Career development opportunities for learning 16. Job security and professional growth (mentorships, cross 17. Meaningfulness of job (understanding how job training, etc.) contributes to society as a whole) 4. Job-specific training 18. Organization’s commitment to corporate social 5. Opportunities to network with others (within or responsibility (balancing financial performance outside the organization) to help in advancing with contributions to the quality of life of its one’s career employees, the local community and society at 6. Opportunities to use skills and abilities in work large) 7. Paid training and tuition reimbursement programs 19. Organization’s commitment to a ‘green’ work- place (environmentally sensitive and resource Relationship With Management efficient) 8. Communication between employees and senior 20. Overall corporate culture (organization’s reputa- management tion, work ethics, values, working conditions, etc.) 9. Autonomy and independence to make decisions 21. Relationships with co-workers 10. Management recognition of employee job perfor- 22. Contribution of work to organization’s business mance (feedback, incentives, rewards) goals 11. Relationship with immediate supervisor 23. The work itself (it is interesting, challenging, excit- ing, etc.) Compensation and Benefits 12. Compensation/pay 24. Variety of work (working on different projects, using different skills) Base rate of pay Opportunities for variable pay (bonuses, commis- The overall results (ﬁgures) are included throughout sions, other variable pay, monetary rewards for the report with the corresponding text; however, the ideas or suggestions) following in-depth analyses (tables) are listed at the end of the report in the Appendix: Stock options Being paid competitively with the local market Comparisons of importance of selected aspects 13. Benefits of job satisfaction from the perspective of both em- Health care/medical benefits ployees and HR professionals, including significant differences. Family-friendly benefits (life insurance for depen- dents, subsidized child care, elder care referral Comparisons of overall results with 2008 results, service, etc.) including significant changes. Paid time off (vacation, holidays, sick days, per- Analyses by employees’ and HR professionals’ sonal days, etc.) organization industry and staff size. Retirement benefits (defined contribution plans Analyses by employee job tenure, gender and such as 401(k) and other defined plans such as age. pensions) Analyses of the top five job satisfaction aspects 14. Flexibility to balance life and work issues (alterna- by demographic variables for employees and HR tive work arrangements, including job sharing, professionals, including organization size, and em- flex schedules, telecommuting, etc.) ployee job tenure, age and gender.
2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying 5 As economicSurvey Results indicators change fromJob Satisfaction Aspects in Order of employees and senior management, opportunities to one year to theImportance to Employees use skills/abilities, and management recognition of next, there employee job performance. It is worth noting that are alsoEmployees and HR professionals were asked to rate compensation/pay, which has been ranked among ﬂuctuationsthe importance of the aspects of the work environ- the top five contributors to job satisfaction for the in thement commonly associated with employee job satis- past seven years, for the first time slid to seventh placefaction. This year, a four-point scale was used, where in HR professionals’ 2009 ranking (see Table 2). aspects“1” represented “very unimportant” and “4” repre- of jobsented “very important.” Components of employee In addition, employees and HR professionals were satisfactionjob satisfaction in order of importance, as indicated asked about how specific elements of compensation that and benefits affected employee job satisfaction. Theseby employees and HR professionals, are illustrated in employees questions, however, are examined separately from theFigures 1 and 2. overall 24 aspects of job satisfaction that were of most and HR importance to employees. Also, HR professionals professionalsThe impact of the current recession is reflected inthe findings of this year’s Job Satisfaction Survey. Job were asked to estimate overall employee job satisfac- view as mostsecurity was found to be the most important aspect tion at their organizations, and employees were asked importantof job satisfaction according to employees—a scenario to indicate their overall satisfaction with their current to overallsimilar to October 2002 and 2008, when talks of re- or most recent job. employee jobcession and mass layoffs were also rampant. Benefits, Organization’s commitment to a ‘green’ workplace, satisfaction.compensation/pay, opportunities to use skills and networking, career development opportunities, paidabilities and feeling safe in the work environment training and tuition reimbursement programs, androunded off employees’ list of top five very important organization’s commitment to professional develop-contributors to job satisfaction. These aspects were ment were among the components that were notalmost identical to the top five of 2008 (see Table strongly connected to overall job satisfaction.1). In the current economic climate, with widespreadjob losses across industries and talk of more layoffs, Like employees, HR professionals also identified theit is noteworthy that employees ranked job security, organization’s commitment to a ‘green’ environmentbenefits and compensation among their top con- and networking as the two least important factors.tributors to job satisfaction. These aspects might beconsidered the primary reasons employees show up “One takeaway for HR leaders is the criticality forfor work every day. As economic indicators change HR to build a strong foundation of HR practices andfrom one year to the next, there are also fluctuations programs around staffing, performance management,in the aspects of job satisfaction that employees and compensation and benefits programs, and disciplineHR professionals view as most important to overall approaches to promote as much stability as practicalemployee job satisfaction. for employees. Having a good foundation in place can help employees gain a better sense of control overHR professionals, for the first time since the in- their working environment. This becomes particularlyception of the Job Satisfaction Survey, ranked job important during volatile times, as in the currentsecurity, along with the relationship with immediate economy,” commented Ken Pinnock, SPHR, GPHR,supervisor, as the top contributors to employees’ director of human resources service at Mountainjob satisfaction. Other aspects in HR professionals’ States Employers Council and member of SHRM’stop five list were benefits, communication between Employee Relations Special Expertise Panel.
6 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying Figure 1 Very Important Aspects of Employee Job Satisfaction (Employees) Job security 63% Beneﬁts 60% Compensation/pay 57% Opportunities to use skills and abilities 55% Feeling safe in the work environment 54% Relationship with immediate supervisor 52% Management recognition of employee job performance 52% Communication between employees and senior management 51% The work itself 50% Autonomy and independence 47% Flexibility to balance life and work issues 46% Meaningfulness of job 45% Overall corporate culture 45% Relationships with co-workers 42% Contribution of work to organization’s business goals 39% Job-speciﬁc training 35% Variety of work 34% Career advancement opportunities 32% Organization’s commitment to corporate social responsibility 31% Organization’s commitment to professional development 30% Paid training and tuition reimbursement programs 29% Career development opportunities 29% Networking 22% Organization’s commitment to a “green” workplace 17% (n = 601) Note: Percentages reﬂect respondents who answered “very important” from a scale where 1 = “very unimportant” and 4 = “very important.” Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM
2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying 7Figure 2 Very Important Aspects of Employee Job Satisfaction (HR Professionals) Job security 72% Relationship with immediate supervisor 72% Beneﬁts 69% Communication between employees and senior management 66% Opportunities to use skills/abilities 62% Management recognition of employee job performance 61% Job-speciﬁc training 52% Feeling safe in the work environment 52% Compensation/pay 51% Overall corporate culture 49% Organization’s commitment to professional development 48% Career advancement opportunities 48% Career development opportunities 47% Relationships with co-workers 46% Paid training and tuition reimbursed programs 43% Flexibility to balance life and work issues 41% The work itself 39% Autonomy and independence 37% Meaningfulness of job 34% Contribution of work to organization’s business goals 33% Variety of work 25% Organization’s commitment to corporate social responsibility 23% Networking 20% Organization’s commitment to a ”green” workplace 13%(n = 547)Note: Percentages reﬂect respondents who answered “very important” from a scale where 1 = “very unimportant” and 4 = “very important.”Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM
8 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying Top Five Very Important Aspects of How many government employees are ‘satisfied’? Nearly one-half Job Satisfaction This is why when recruiting, I would never use ‘job of employees1 security’ as a carrot.” Job Security (47%) indicated Optimism about job growth in the United The survey also asked employees what factors have that their States is low, according to SHRM’s Labor influenced their sense of job security during the cur- professional Market Outlook.1 Seven out of 10 human rent economic climate. Nearly one-half of employees abilities/ resource professionals are anticipating deeper job cuts (47%) indicated that their professional abilities/skills skills and the in the U.S. labor force in the first quarter of 2009. and the importance of their job (role) to their orga- importance According to a SHRM poll conducted in early 2009, nization’s overall success increased their sense of job 30% of employees believe that in six months their security. Location of employees’ company had little of their job jobs would be moderately or significantly at risk.2 impact on their sense of job security.4 (role) to their Given the job market volatility, it is not surprising organization’s that both employees and HR professionals were in Job security as an aspect of job satisfaction was more overall success agreement in rating job security as the most impor- important to male employees than to female employ- increased tant aspect of employee job satisfaction in 2009 (see ees. Employees from medium- and large-staff-sized their sense of Tables 1 and 2). In December 2008, the National organizations, compared with those from small- Bureau of Economic Research confirmed what many staff-sized organizations, were more likely to cite job job security. economists, legislators and members of the general security as a very important contributor to their job public had already assumed—that the recession in the satisfaction. These data are shown in Table 3. 2 United States began in December 2007.3 Benefits “I was not surprised that in this economic state Employee benefits are used by organizations job security has moved to the number one slot as to recruit and retain top talent. In times of being most important,” says Teresa Bailey, direc- economic uncertainty, when organizations tor of HR at ConvaTec and member of SHRM’s might not be able to offer their employees pay raises Corporate Social Responsibility Special Expertise and bonuses, benefits become one of the many tools Panel. However, Gerlinde Herrmann, also a member employers use to increase loyalty, productivity and job of SHRM’s Corporate Social Responsibility Special satisfaction. Benefits have remained among the top Expertise Panel, was somewhat surprised that job se- two most important contributors of job satisfaction curity ranked so high on the list: “In my experience, to employees (Table 1). Differences emerged based job security does not necessarily equal job satisfaction. on employees’ tenure and organizations’ staff size. Figure 3 Importance of Job Security 72% 63% 32% 27% 1% 4% 1% 0% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 593) HR Professionals (n = 543) Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM
2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying 9 It is important for organizations to take into account and It is positive anticipate the needs, preferences and make-up of their that HR workforce when considering beneﬁts offerings. professionals are recognizingEmployees with six to 10 years of job tenure were contributions by their employer would significantly the growingmore likely than their counterparts with three to five affect them.5 importanceyears of tenure to report benefits as an important of beneﬁts toaspect of job satisfaction. Compared with employees Employers that have been challenged by the cur- employee jobfrom small organizations, employees from medium rent economic downturn are taking actions to help them weather the economic storm while continuing satisfaction,and large organizations placed higher importance onbenefits as a contributor to job satisfaction. These to achieve their business goals. In doing so, some em- especiallydata are shown in Table 3. ployers have reduced, frozen or completely eliminated during employee benefits. Of the 17% of companies that challengingBenefits fell behind job security and the relationship indicated they have reduced employee benefits as a economic way to cut cost, 78% reported that they have reducedwith immediate supervisor, which were tied for the times. health care coverage for employees, according to atop most important aspect of employee job satisfac- SHRM poll.6tion this year as perceived by HR professionals. In2002, benefits did not make the top five list for HR HR is tasked with finding the right mix of employeeprofessionals, but since then it placed third or fourth benefits that satisfies the personal and financial needsfor HR professionals every year the survey has been of the current and potential workforce—a challeng-conducted (Table 2). It is positive that HR profes- ing task given existing business conditions and costsionals are recognizing the growing importance of constraints. It is important for organizations to takebenefits to employee job satisfaction, especially dur- into account and anticipate the needs, preferencesing challenging economic times. The rising cost of and make-up of their workforce when consideringhealth care and faltering retirement benefits are major benefits offerings. Finding a cost-effective and afford-concerns for employees. In a 2009 SHRM study of able benefits package is particularly difficult due toemployees, 71% of employees indicated that complete the high cost of health care.elimination of health care benefits by their employerwould have a significant negative impact on them, Benefits offerings for employees can include a wideand 45% reported that suspension of retirement plan array of benefits and perks; however, of primaryFigure 4 Importance of Beneﬁts 69% 60% 31% 30% 7% 3% 1% 0% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 597) HR Professionals (n = 548)Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM
10 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying importance to many employees are health care, paid private, public and nonprofit sectors, as did HR pro- More tenured time off, retirement and family-friendly benefits. fessionals in large organizations compared with those These benefits were examined to learn about their from small and medium organizations. employees contribution to employee job satisfaction. placed These data highlight the significance of retirement greater value As illustrated in Figure 5, health care/medical ben- planning not only for employees but also for employ- on retirement efits were the most important benefits for employee ers. With the significant drop in the stock market in beneﬁts than job satisfaction. It is noteworthy that while 39% of late 2008, many older workers may need to continue did employees employees indicated that a defined benefit pension working past retirement age because their retirement plan was very important, only 22% of HR profession- relatively benefits are no longer what they expected. Social als indicated so. Family-friendly benefits were also new to their Security and defined benefit pensions are not likely more important to employees than HR professionals organizations. to be available to Generation X employees by the predicted. time they leave the workforce, according to many predictions. These factors alone are troubling, yet Health care/medical benefits and retirement benefits studies have also shown that employees are not sav- were valued more by employees at medium and ing enough for a financially secure retirement. More large organizations compared with those at small organizations are adopting technology to help their organizations. It is not surprising that more tenured employees with various aspects of their retirement employees placed greater value on retirement benefits than did employees relatively new to their organiza- planning, automatically enrolling employees into tions. Employees with six or more years of job tenure defined contribution plans unless they opt out and indicated that this aspect was more important to job implementing investment advice programs that pro- satisfaction than did employees who had been with vide a range of services tailored to participants’ needs. their organizations for two years or less. According to SHRM’s 2009 Employee Benefits Survey Report, 35% of employers offer automatic enrollment HR professionals from government entities viewed of employees into defined contribution plans. This is retirement benefits as more important to employee a slight increase over 2008 (32%).7 For more detailed job satisfaction than did HR professionals in the information about the types of benefits and trends Figure 5 Very Important Beneﬁts Aspects 64% Health care/medical beneﬁts 82% 58% Paid time off 68% 41% Deﬁned contribution plans (i.e., 401(k), 403(b), etc.) 38% 39% Deﬁned beneﬁt pension plan 22% 29% Family-friendly beneﬁts 16% Employees (n = 598) HR Professionals (n = 545) Note: Percentages reﬂect respondents who answered “very important” from a scale where 1 = “very unimportant” and 4 = “very important.” Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM
2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying 11in benefits offerings over the last seven years, see the ate supervisor and open lines of communication with The currentSHRM 2009 Employee Benefits Survey Report. senior management are integral to job satisfaction, economic3 especially now, when employee morale is threatened. Compensation/Pay Employees who are compensated well but have poor climate is Compensation has consistently remained relationship with their supervisor may be more likely not likely one of the top five job satisfaction aspects to be frustrated, less productive and dissatisfied—all to prevent most important to employees. However, of which may negatively affect the dynamics of a employeesduring a period of economic uncertainty, HR profes- team. from askingsionals continue to perceive the relationship with for an out-immediate supervisor, communication between Employees were asked how likely they were to stayemployees and senior management and job-specific with their current organization if they were offered of-cycle ortraining as more important to employees than com- more money, with the same benefits, at another unscheduledpensation. This is not to downplay the importance of company. Almost six out of 10 employees indicated raise fromcompensation, since more than 50% of HR profes- that they would be very likely to leave their current their employer,sionals indicated that this aspect was very important position if they received an offer of a 30% salary according toto employee job satisfaction. It may be that while HR increase and the same benefits package from another almost fourprofessionals see the value of compensation/pay, they company (Figure 33). The current economic climatealso understand that the relationship with immedi- is not likely to prevent employees from asking for an out of 10 employees.Figure 6 Importance of Compensation/Pay 57% 48% 51% 38% 1% 4% 1% 0% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 601) HR Professionals (n = 546)Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRMFigure 7 Very Important Compensation Aspects 55% Being paid competitively with the local market 54% 52% Base rate of pay 43% 37% Opportunities for variable pay 27% 12% Stock options 6% Employees (n = 600) HR Professionals (n = 542)Note: Percentages reﬂect respondents who answered “very important” from a scale where 1 = “very unimportant” and 4 = “very important.”Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM
12 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying out-of-cycle/unscheduled raise from their employer, Opportunities for variable pay (bonuses, commis- sions, other variable pay, monetary rewards for ideas or It is generally according to almost four out of 10 employees.8 suggestions): 37% of employees and 27% of HR pro- thought that Even though compensation has ranked among the fessionals reported that this aspect was very important employees top contributors to employee job satisfaction, it is to job satisfaction. Variable pay, or differential pay, is feel good unlikely that employees view it in isolation from other not added to the employee’s base pay and is depen- about their factors. To better understand how various elements dent upon performance. This allows organizations to jobs when of compensation factor into employee job satisfac- better control their labor costs and tie performance they are tion, employees and HR professionals were asked and pay together. HR professionals from the public about the importance of base rate of pay, being paid sector were the most likely to perceive this aspect to using their competitively with the local market and opportunities be important to employee job satisfaction. skills and for variable pay and stock options (Figure 7). abilities and Stock options: 12% of employees and 6% of HR contributing Being paid competitively with the local market: 55% professionals rated stock options as very important. of employees and 54% of HR professionals rated this to the 4 aspect as very important. organization. Opportunities to Use Base rate of pay: 52% of employees and 43% of HR Skills/Abilities professionals viewed base rate of pay as very impor- Similar to 2008, employees rated opportu- tant to employee job satisfaction. nities to use their skills and abilities in their Figure 8 Importance of Opportunities to Use Skills and Abilities 62% 55% 39% 37% 1% 5% 1% 0% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 597) HR Professionals (n = 548) Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM Figure 9 Importance of Feeling Safe in the Work Environment 54% 52% 47% 40% 1% 5% 1% 0% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 597) HR Professionals (n = 549) Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM
2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying 13 Insights Female Darren R. Reed, PHR employees SHRM Employee Relations Special Expertise Panel considered feeling safe in Q: In your industry, what do you see as the top three job satisfaction factors? the workplace A: I am in the information technology and ﬁnancial sector. The workforce that I am working with is an especially primarily made of software programmers, software testers, IT project managers, systems analysts, important job network and telecommunications analysts, and IT operations analysts. Our exit interview data and our satisfaction own internal surveying of current employees suggest that the top three job satisfaction factors are factor challenging work, career advancement and compensation. Our people are typically very technical, intel- compared ligent and have a passion for technology. They get bored when they don’t have work that stimulates with male their problem-solving and analytical skills, so it is sometimes a challenge for us to keep them feeling workers. challenged and excited about their work. Q: From your viewpoint, how is the economy inﬂuencing job satisfaction in your workforce? A: Our business is relatively stable at this point, and we have not had to make large cuts in our workforce. I believe in large part our workforce is happy to have a job, and we’ve seen some of the more trivial types of complaints we used to get start to drop off. We had relatively low annual salary increases. In most cases, people were appreciative of getting anything at all. The economic crisis has caused people to look at things a little differently, I think. They are taking less for granted. At the same time, many of our people are still nervous about losing their jobs, and in some cases, their spouse has lost his or her job, causing more stress on the family, which sometimes bleeds over to their work life.work as the fourth most important aspect of their job feeling safe in the workplace an especially importantsatisfaction. It was also fourth in the HR profession- job satisfaction factor compared with male workers.als’ list. It is generally thought that employees feel In 2004, this aspect nearly doubled in importancegood about their jobs when they are using their skills from 2002 and was included in the top five list forand abilities and contributing to the organization. employees. HR professionals have consistently ratedAs mentioned earlier, employees were asked how this element of job satisfaction lower than employeescertain factors have affected their sense of job security have.during the current economic climate. Nearly one-halfof employees (47%) indicated that their professional With safety and security threats ranging from terror-abilities/skills and the importance of their job (role) ism and violence in the workplace to public healthto their organization’s overall success increased their issues and workplace accidents, it is not surprisingsense of job security. that employees are concerned about workplace5 safety. This, in turn, may lead to greater expecta- Feeling Safe in the tions of employers to protect their workforce from Work Environment major threats. A number of employers have taken Fifty-four percent of employees and 52% of steps to improve their safety and security systems HR professionals indicated that feeling safe and disaster preparedness plans. The vast majority ofin the work environment was very important to em- HR professionals (85%) reported that their organi-ployee job satisfaction. Female employees considered zations have disaster preparedness plans in place in
14 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying Insights Ken Pinnock, SPHR, GPHR SHRM Employee Relations Special Expertise Panel Director, HR Services Group, Mountain States Employers Council, Inc. (MSEC) Q: In your industry, what do you see as the top three job satisfaction factors? A: MSEC is an employers’ association, and I see the top three job satisfaction factors to be: 1. Task and job variety: We are a unique organization that provides HR consulting and support to more than 2,800 member organizations spanning all industries and sizes. The variety of work and opportuni- ties to work on new projects always exist. 2. Ability to continually learn and apply new skills and competencies on the job. 3. Working for an organization with a very positive reputation in the Mountain State region. Being as- sociated with the employer brand. Q: From your viewpoint, how is the economy inﬂuencing job satisfaction in your workforce? A: Right now, satisfaction is okay, as people appreciate the relative job stability compared with many organizations. However, changes are being made that can take a toll on satisfaction. For example, some employees had to switch roles to cover work for an employee who left and whose position was not going to be ﬁlled from the outside. As employees are being asked to take on different work roles, satisfaction is negatively affected. Q: What initiatives is your company taking to positively inﬂuence job satisfaction, despite difﬁcult economic times? A: We continue to provide training and development opportunities as much as possible, and we en- couraging and scheduling in-house training for all employees. We want the learning aspect of working at MSEC to continue. We also provide frequent updates as to the ﬁnancial health of the organization. Q: How is your company retaining key talent in view of the recession? A: We are not doing anything differently. People are cautious about making job changes at this point. The challenge will be to not burn people out during this time, so when the markets recover, people will still want to stay at MSEC. So support in terms of communication and recognition is very important now. case of chemical and biological disasters or security 70% in 2003.10 HR professionals can also play a role threats, according to a 2005 SHRM survey on in crisis management, disaster recovery planning and disaster preparedness.9 In 2007, 89% of organizations ensuring the safety of employees at home and abroad. had implemented security systems as a preventative To do this, HR professionals need to be involved in measure against potential disasters, compared with the development of safety and security measures, and
2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying 15employees and HR professionals both need to have was very important. Career advancement was more Careeraccess to resources, including training, that address a important for employees from medium and large or-wide range of potential disasters. advancement ganizations than for employees from small organiza- tions. This aspect was a higher priority for employees was more aged 35 and younger than for employees aged 56 important forResults of Other Individual Job employees and older. Similarly, employees with two years orSatisfaction Aspects from medium less of job tenure indicated that this aspect was more important to their job satisfaction than did employ- and largeCareer DevelopmentThe first series of questions HR professionals and ees who had been with their organizations for 16 or organizationsemployees were asked fell under the topic of career more years. It is not surprising that employees who than fordevelopment. Employees ranked only one of the are relatively new to their organizations placed greater employeesfactors in career development in the top five of very value on career advancement opportunities than did from small more tenured employees.important contributors to job satisfaction. organizations.Career Advancement Opportunities Career advancement opportunities were reportedWithin Organization as an important aspect to employee job satisfac-As illustrated in Figure 10, 48% of HR profession- tion more frequently by HR professionals in largeals and 29% of employees reported that this factor organizations compared with respondents in smallFigure 10 Importance of Career Advancement Opportunities 44% 47% 48% 32% 20% 4% 5% 0% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 603) HR Professionals (n = 548)Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRMFigure 11 Importance of Career Development Opportunities 50% 48% 48% 29% 18% 3% 4% 0% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 602) HR Professionals (n = 548)Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM
16 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying and medium organizations. These data are shown in more likely than those from small organizations to tie Table 5. career development opportunities to job satisfaction (Table 5). Career Development Opportunities Through on-the-job learning experiences, employees Job-Specific Training can enhance their skills and competencies. Twenty- Employers offer job-specific training to provide nine percent of employees and 48% of HR profes- employees with the relevant skills to enable them to sionals indicated that career development was very perform their duties efficiently. The immediate ap- important when assessing job satisfaction (Figure 11). plication of skills acquired through such training may boost employee confidence and productivity. Thirty- Similar to career advancement, differences emerged five percent of employees and 52% of HR profes- among employees’ age, tenure and organization size. sionals cited job-specific training as a very important This aspect was a higher priority for employees aged contributor to employee job satisfaction, as shown in 35 and younger than for employees aged 56 and Figure 12. Employees appeared to place more value older. It was more important to employees with two on this aspect in 2009 compared with 2008—pos- years or less of job tenure than to employees who sibly as a result of the downturn in the economy. had been with their organizations for 16 or more Employees are perhaps looking to job-specific train- years. Lastly, employees from large organizations were ing as a way to boost their skills and abilities, thereby Figure 12 Importance of Job-Speciﬁc Training 50% 52% 45% 35% 13% 2% 3% 0% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 600) HR Professionals (n = 545) Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM Figure 13 Importance of Networking 59% 48% 26% 21% 22% 20% 4% 0% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 599) HR Professionals (n = 550) Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM
2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying 17potentially increasing their sense of job security. and perspectives of others on this subject. EmployeesEmployees from medium and large organizations As a result of with two years or less of job tenure viewed the op-were more likely to tie this aspect to their overall job portunity to build alliances as more valuable to job the economicsatisfaction compared with employees from small or- satisfaction than did employees who had been with downturn,ganizations. Younger workers appeared to place more their organizations for 16 or more years. manyvalue on this component (Table 5). organizations “I am amazed that individuals do not see the value have madeNetworking of networking in this economy,” said Teresa Bailey, cuts to theirThis aspect of job satisfaction was placed by both member of SHRM’s Corporate Social Responsibility professionalemployees and HR professionals among the least Special Expertise Panel. “I would say that most HRimportant to employee job satisfaction. As shown professionals would disagree with this assessment and developmentin Figure 13, only 22% of employees and 20% of tend to say that networking is very important.” budgets,HR professionals felt that networking was a very according toimportant contributor to employee job satisfaction. Organization’s Commitment to 37% of HRWhile networking may not be particularly important Professional Development professionalsto employee job satisfaction, building alliances can Thirty percent of employees indicated that an orga- whobe valuable when looking for job leads or clients. nization’s commitment to professional developmentThrough networking, employees can obtain career- was very important to employee job satisfaction, participatedrelated guidance and benefit from the experiences compared with 49% of HR professionals who felt in a SHRM poll on theFigure 14 Importance of Organization’s Commitment to Professional Development impact of the recession on organizations. 53% 49% 47% 30% 14% 3% 4% 0% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 601) HR Professionals (n = 548)Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRMFigure 15 Importance of Paid Training and Tuition Reimbursement Programs 46% 47% 42% 28% 22% 9% 4% 2% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 601) HR Professionals (n = 546)Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM
18 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying Communication between employees and senior management 51% percent has consistently made the list of top ﬁve elements of of employees employee job satisfaction as predicted by HR professionals. and 66% of HR professionals reported that the same way. These data are depicted in Figure 14. tuition reimbursement as important to employee job communication Although employees welcome opportunities to par- satisfaction (Figure 15). Employees from large orga- between ticipate in training paid for by their employers, for the nizations gave more importance to this aspect than employees past seven years HR professionals have predicted this did employees from small organizations (Table 5). aspect to be more valuable than employees indicated. and senior Professional development opportunities (e.g., attend- Employee Relationship With Management management ing training or conferences, obtaining certifications) HR professionals have tended to rank most of the as- was very are meant to develop or enhance employees’ skills pects from this category (relationship with immediate important to and knowledge so that they can use this informa- supervisor, communication between employees and employee job tion in their current positions, build their resume for senior management, and management recognition satisfaction. future jobs and meet their personal goals. of employee job performance) in the top five of very important aspects of employee job satisfaction. As a result of the economic downturn, many organi- zations have made cuts to their professional develop- Communication Between Employees ment budgets, according to 37% of HR professionals and Senior Management who participated in a SHRM poll on the impact of Effective communication from senior management, the recession on organizations. In the same poll, especially during times of uncertainty, can provide the almost half (48%) of HR professionals indicated that workforce with direction, dispel rumors and pro- if the current financial challenges to the U.S. and mote trust. Fifty-one percent of employees and 66% global economy continue, their companies would of HR professionals reported that communication likely or very likely cut professional development for between employees and senior management was very employees. important to employee job satisfaction. These data are depicted in Figure 16. Communication between Paid Training and Tuition Reimbursement employees and senior management has consistently Forty-two percent of HR professionals, compared made the list of top five elements of employee job with 28% of employees, perceive paid training and satisfaction as predicted by HR professionals. Figure 16 Importance of Communication Between Employees and Senior Management 66% 51% 41% 32% 2% 6% 0% 2% Very unimportant Unimportant Important Very important Employees (n = 601) HR Professionals (n = 545) Source: 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: A survey report by SHRM
2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying 19 Insights “Dialogue Beverly Widger, SPHR is a key SHRM Employee Relations Special Expertise Panel initiative from all levels of Q: In your industry, what do you see as the top three job satisfaction factors? leadership to A: In my industry—banking—the top three job satisfaction factors are job security, livable wages and staff. excellent beneﬁts, and open communication from senior management and trustees. When people are worried Q: From your viewpoint, how is the economy inﬂuencing job satisfaction in your about their workforce? jobs, they must A: People are concerned about their jobs and job security. While community banks are thriving, there have all the is still an undertone of concern. Taxes in our community are increasing, spouses have been laid off in information and some families, and there is concern for being able to afford the essentials. Staff are striving for infor- have a chance mation and to keep informed. to sound off.” Q: What initiatives is your company taking to positively inﬂuence job satisfaction, Marie LaMarche, despite these difﬁcult economic times? member of SHRM’s Employee Relations A: We conduct monthly staff meetings with open-book accounting on where the bank stands ﬁnan- Special Expertise cially. We also have a customer contact program to keep and continually satisfy customers. We are Panel continuing monthly wellness and social activities as planned. Our bonus is still in place, but it requires making proﬁtability goals. Q: How is your company retaining key talent, in view of the recession? A: We are paying competitively, offering good beneﬁts and rewarding good performers.HR professionals were asked what measures their to senior management (bottom-up communication),organizations were taking to keep employee job such as employee attitude surveys, focus groups andsatisfaction high during uncertain economic times. suggestion boxes. In addition, employees can alsoEncouraging open communication between supervi- meet with their supervisors one on one to discuss anysors and employees (55%) and fostering open com- matters, regularly or as needed, and this can be usedmunication with employees regarding organization’s as a means of upward communication.financial standing (45%) were the top two measuresreported. On the flip side, it is important that senior manage- ment communicate with employees so that theyEmployees should not feel uncomfortable or afraid to understand the organization’s business goals, policiespose questions, suggestions or their concerns to man- and vision, and are apprised about what is going onagement. Organizations should ask themselves the in the organization. It can be particularly challengingquestion, “Can employees question the decisions of for large organizations to keep the lines of communi-management without fear of repercussions?”11 There cation clear and keep employees in the loop. Seniorare various mechanisms that can be used to encour- management can reduce these potential obstacles byage feedback and communication from employees sharing organizational information with employees in