“I can’t get no-oh satisfaction…”
All right, all right…we all know Mick was not singing about job satisfaction, but how many of us have said this under our breath as we leave our desks at the end of the day. What is job satisfaction and how can we get some (or some more)?
It’s no surprise to HR professionals that when people answer surveys about what brings them satisfaction on the job, money is not the #1 satisfier. Money is not even #2. What sits in these coveted positions year after year are meaningful work and a good relationship with the boss. (<everydaylife.globalpost.com/relationship-between-job-satisfaction-and-salary>, <humanresources.about.com/employeesatisfaction>, and <smallbusiness.chron.com/factorsaffectingjobsatisfaction>).
That said, these are just two of a number of factors that lead to job satisfaction. Because there are so many variables having an impact on job satisfaction it’s a challenge to measure. The following aspects of work were listed in all three of the articles cited above:
- Work conditions
- A sense of job security
- Advancement opportunities
Other factors, cited less often, include clarity in communication and chain of command, respect from co-workers, and ability to influence decisions.
A Gallup poll in 2011 said that 87.5% of Americans experience job satisfaction. Being able to use their strengths at work and having a trusting and open work environment were strong positive factors. The poll also showed satisfaction levels rose with age and with education. Salary level also had an effect. Employees making less than $36,000 were most dissatisfied (82%), while those making over $90,000 were satisfied (91.9%). Keep those satisfaction numbers in mind as you read on.
For their State of the American Workforce Report 2013, Gallup surveyed 150,000 full and part-time workers. A full 70% of them said they “hated” their job. This attitude toward their work, according to Gallup, results in estimated costs of between $450-$500 billion dollars a year in lost productivity, stolen office supplies (and you thought no one noticed that missing stapler) and absenteeism. What happened to the 87.5% who expressed satisfaction? Well, satisfaction with and engagement on the job are two different things. Engagement means feeling connected and committed. American workers overall do not feel that way. Perhaps Frederick Herzberg can help us determine why.
Frederick Herzberg (remember that name from your college psych classes?) was an American psychologist who became one of the most influential names in business management. He is most famous for introducing the concept of job enrichment and the Motivator-Hygiene theory. This theory speaks of two dimensions to job satisfaction: hygiene factors and motivators. It is interesting to see, when compared to his theory, where most of our job satisfaction variables (and efforts to increase it) fall.
What are hygiene factors? Company policies, salary, supervision, interpersonal relations, and working conditions. Hygiene factors do not motivate people. When present, the best they do is minimize dissatisfaction. If they go missing, they cause dissatisfaction.
On the other hand, motivators create satisfaction by fulfilling individual needs for meaning and personal growth. Motivators include the work itself, receiving recognition, and having responsibility and a chance for advancement. The disconnect between American worker job satisfaction and engagement is easier to see when you look at it through Herzberg’s lens.
Where do you fall? Are you satisfied but not totally engaged? Are you both satisfied and engaged? Neither? What can you do about your situation should you fall in the 70%? Or maybe you are reading this to get some insight into why your reports perform they way they do. What can be done to increase the presence of motivators?
- Help employees believe what they do is important and meaningful. A manager once told me how he motivated his employees to do the unpleasant job of cleaning his store’s restrooms. He explained how dirty restrooms reflected on the store. If the restrooms were dirty, customers might generalize their disgust to the store’s food products and stop shopping there. In other words, cleaning the restrooms contributed to the bottom line just as fully stocked shelves did. Cleaning the restrooms was important work.
- People usually don’t get up in the morning and think, “I’m going to do a bad job today.” Most employees want to do a good job. Doing a good job is more likely if the employee has ownership of the task and/or receives some sort of recognition for doing a good job. Ken Blanchard in his book The One Minute Manager encouraged readers to “catch employees doing something right” and say thank you for it. A sincere “thank you” costs nothing and can reap much in terms of commitment.
- Have no way to advance employees up the ladder? Discussions about where they want to go next and helping them prepare through assignments to projects, task forces, allowing them to attend training and other activities can communicate to the employee that he/she is a valuable resource you want to develop,
If it is your job satisfaction that is one the wane, look at the above suggestions and determine how you might have them incorporated into your position. What would it take to increase your satisfaction? As the first article in this alphabet series reminded us, awareness is a critical first step. What is it that you need to, as Mick says, “get satisfaction”?