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How to increase job satisfaction

How to increase job satisfaction

What is job satisfaction?

The term job satisfaction, also known as employee satisfaction, is used in organizations to understand the state of an employee’s happiness or unhappiness in their job.

Nadi (1997) defined job satisfaction as composed of the reaction, attitude, or perception of an individual to work.

Managers may ask questions to understand job satisfaction, like:

  • How satisfied are you with your job? (with the answer range including these answers: Completely satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, completely dissatisfied, no opinion)
  • Are you happy with your annual pay? (yes/no)
  • Do you find your workplace conditions supportive of your career development? (yes/no)
  • Do you have a good work-life balance? (yes/no)

These kinds of questions help determine the level of job satisfaction and if the employee’s job is matching up to their expectations. They give a useful indicative measure of the job satisfaction situation at one moment in time.

This can be useful to know because job satisfaction is a key reason why employees may stay in a company long-term. Satisfied employees are less likely to leave, meaning attrition rates remain low.

This has knock-on effects for the company – with high job satisfaction, companies can keep hold of vital business knowledge, productivity is not interrupted by the need to recruit for replacement employees, and team morale is kept intact.

Yet, job satisfaction as a measure is dependent on many factors, and this isn’t captured by the questions above. A better measurement to consider is employee engagement, which is part of the overall employee experience.

Measure your employees’ satisfaction with our free Employee Satisfaction template

Employee satisfaction vs employee engagement

While job/employee satisfaction and employee engagement sound like the same thing, they are different:

Job/employee satisfaction – an employee may be perfectly satisfied with their job because it pays their bills, maintains the status quo, and fits their lifestyle. Some satisfied employees do the bare minimum required to keep their jobs. They are not necessarily motivated by the development and success of the company as a whole.

Employee engagement – runs deeper; an engaged employee is usually also a satisfied employee, but they have passion, commitment, and a desire to ‘go the extra mile’ to make the company a success. Engaged employees thrive on challenge, purpose, and meaningful work.

What has employee experience got to do with job satisfaction?

From the moment someone looks at your job opening, to the moment they leave your company, everything that the worker learns, does, sees, and feels contributes to their employee experience.

For your organization to master employee experience management, you must listen to your people at each stage of the employee lifecycle, identify what matters most to them, and create personalized, bespoke experiences.

It takes into consideration:

  • How well onboarding activities occur
  • If employees are provided with the right support and training
  • If employees are listened to and valued
  • Their day-to-day engagement with staff relationships and their environment
  • Their role within the company and how included they feel
  • How relevant issues and improvements are handled
  • Their exit process and the reasons leading up to it

Edwin A. Locke (2016) defines job satisfaction by the following job satisfaction factors:

  1. Work
  • Love of the activity, personal interest
  • Love of achievement (meeting standards of excellence)

[NOTE: the above two have been confounded as “intrinsic motivation”. This is a serious error – the two are not the same – you can like doing something without trying to be an expert at it and you can work to be good at something that you do not greatly enjoy)

  • Mental challenge, engaging your mind, growing, learning new things. Without this,growt you get bored—control over key aspects of the work
  • Belief that the work is in some way important
  1. Pay
  • Pay is set by a fair method or procedure (procedural justice)
  • Amount of pay is fair (distributive justice)
  • Pay is high (almost no one thinks they are paid too much and most would like more)
  1. Promotions: opportunity for advancement, growth; fair process (for those with ambition)
  2. Peers, colleagues
  • Nice to work with, cooperative, considerate
  • Honest
  • Competent: can do their jobs well
  1. Supervisor (if have one)
  1. Top Leadership
  • Competent: can put the pieces together so that the organization succeeds
  • Honest
  1. Benefits & policies
  • Competitive with similar organizations
  • The more the better (there is no limit to what might be offered)
  • Healthy, safe working conditions

Job satisfaction statistics for US employee job satisfaction

If we look at job satisfaction statistics over a number of years, they tell us an interesting story.

In the US, job satisfaction levels in 2020 reached a 20-year high, despite market conditions being affected by the pandemic over recent years.

Job satisfaction - year over year


Source: https://www.qualtrics.com/blog/job-satisfaction/  (February 23, 2022)


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