A new survey finds more than three-quarters of U.S. employees are satisfied overall with their jobs, but fewer than one-half of them are happy with opportunities for career development and advancement -- and nearly everyone is concerned about job security.
The findings are from the 2011 Job Satisfaction and Engagement Research Report released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
The significance of the research results, according to Mark Schmit, SHRM’s vice president for research: “As we slowly come out of the recession, the war for talent will be back on. When that happens, there is the potential for turnover given the dissatisfaction that employees seem to have with the real or perceived lack of advancement opportunities.”
SHRM’s new research showed that 83 percent of U.S. employees reported overall satisfaction with their current jobs. Although declining slightly since 2009, the percent of satisfied employees hasn’t changed significantly in the last 10 years, Schmit noted.
“In general, people find ways to be satisfied at work,” he said.
But only slightly more than 40 percent were satisfied with their career development and advancement opportunities.
For the first time since SHRM’s annual job satisfaction survey began almost 10 years ago, the research also examined employee engagement — how connected or committed employees are to their organization.
About seven out of 10 employees reported being moderately engaged in their work, determined to accomplish work goals and completely focused on work projects. They also reported putting extra effort into their work. At the same time, however, only about one-half of employees felt completely plugged in at work (52 percent) or enjoyed volunteering for activities beyond what the job requires (53 percent).
“Employees seem to be saying: I’m not getting training or opportunities for development, so why would I volunteer to do extra things to advance my career by helping out the organization,” Schmit said. “But it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that has implications not only for employees but for HR professionals and business leaders who manage the talent in their organizations.”
The survey polled 600 randomly selected employees at small to large companies. Other findings included:
• Job security remains the biggest driver of job satisfaction for the fourth year, with 63 percent of respondents saying it was very important to them. But only 28 percent of respondents were very satisfied with their job security. Women felt less satisfied with job security than men.
• Employees also value communication with senior managers, but less than one-third of employees reported feeling very satisfied with that communication. “This is driven in part by economic conditions,” Schmit said. “If employers don’t have good news, it’s hard for them to be communicative with their employees.”
• Employees were moderately engaged in 2011. Seventy percent frequently felt that they were putting all their effort into their work and were completely focused on work projects.