Employee engagement has been a particularly hot topic since a Gallup survey last year revealed the perilous state of employee happiness around the world. It found that just 13 percent of American workers were engaged in their work. The findings prompted a great deal of soul searching about just why it was that our workplaces were such soul destroying places, and what could be done to rectify things.
While the Gallup survey painted an altogether bleak picture of employee engagement, a report published recently from the Society for Human Resources Management provides an altogether more optimistic perspective. It showed that job satisfaction had risen for the first time in around four years, with the authors suggesting this was largely a consequence of the improving job market allowing workers the freedom to seek out the kind of work they really wanted to do.
A Rise in Job Satisfaction
The report revealed that some 86 percent of American employees were satisfied with their jobs in the last year. The figures reflect a stark contrast to the bleak numbers given in the Gallup survey, and are up from 81 percent during 2013. The 5 percent jump in job satisfaction represents the largest single year rise in job satisfaction since the Society began conducting its annual survey back in 2002.
The figure was the highest recorded since 2009 when there was also 86 percent job satisfaction. Since then a steady decline was witnessed, with job satisfaction levels reaching a low of 81 percent in both 2012 and 2013.
What Contributes to Job Satisfaction
So what makes us satisfied at work? Among the factors regarded as highly important by respondees were things such as being treated respectfully by colleagues at all times. This was closely followed by a high level of trust between senior managers and the rest of the workforce. Interestingly, it emerged that benefits were more important than overall pay, which represents a change in value from the 2013 survey. There was also a strong desire for job security seen in the results.
The authors suggest that the growing importance of things such as professional relationships and strong organisational culture reflect the need for a renewed focus on these issues, especially by HR managers.
"In order for HR professionals to implement successful retention and recruitment strategies, their tools must be deployed equally between these financial elements — such as paying competitive salaries and offering flexible work benefits — and cultural qualities of the workplace, which may include a heavy emphasis on employee engagement," the report says.
Despite pay seeming to fall in importance in recent times, it still plays an important role in our satisfaction levels. The report revealed that 56 percent of us believe we’ll stick with our current employer over the coming year. The main reason for doing so being the pay awarded them together with things such as flexible working possibilities.
The findings provide an interesting counter to the dismal figures in the Gallup survey from last year. Which do you think represents the true picture? Would you say your own workplace is more akin to the Society’s report or Gallups?