Are you ready for some good news? Job satisfaction is the highest it has been in over a decade!
Earlier this year, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that a whopping 88% of employees are satisfied at work. While overall job satisfaction spiked, employees also reported a slight increase in engagement.
SHRM’s extensive research measures 43 aspects of job satisfaction and 37 factors associated with employee engagement. The key issues related to satisfaction in the 2016 survey included respectful treatment of employees at all levels of the organization, compensation, benefits, and security.
For years, surveys have reported dismal levels of job satisfaction in the workforce. So, what has changed? And, why bother sharing the good news? SHRM’s 2016 survey is noteworthy and the information it provides can help organizations as well as employees increase satisfaction and engagement.
In terms of what has changed, there are subtle and powerful shifts happening in how people think about work and life. We are gradually moving away from the belief that we need to find one true passion in order to be happy and fulfilled. Despite well-meaning advice from talk show hosts and self-help gurus over the past two decades, finding one’s passion isn’t all that easy!
And, the pressure to do so often causes stress and anxiety. Letting go of the need to find a singular purpose for being on the planet and linking that to a specific career path allows us to reconsider what it means to be satisfied and fulfilled. Rather than feeling like failures for not having found a passion, many of my clients feel a sense of relief to learn they could be equally happy working in a variety of positions or industries.
The quest to find one’s passion has been replaced with a more realistic goal of exploring different ways to put our key skills to use. We have known for years that job satisfaction increases when people use their strengths or unique super powers for 70 to 80 percent of the work day. Most people are satisfied to be paid a competitive wage to do work that they enjoy. That is meaningful and fulfilling in and of itself.
Another shift I see occurring is that people are no longer expecting any job to fulfil all of their needs. Work is an important part of who we are but it is not everything. Employees who are most happy and fulfilled at work are also committed to taking care of their personal needs and desires. This can include volunteering in your child’s classroom, pursuing creative hobbies, unplugging from email after hours or getting to the gym five days a week.
One reason people are making more conscious decisions about work/life integration is because the job market is less tight. Rather than feeling stuck, people feel empowered to seek out opportunities that are a better fit not only in terms of the skills they want to use but also in terms of value alignment and culture.
Let’s give credit to the organizations that are committed to creating positive work environments in an effort to retain talent. It is also important to recognize that job satisfaction is closely related to how content we are in other parts of our lives. Career is just one slice of a much bigger pie. No matter how you cut it, the goal is for work and all the rest of your life to be equally delicious.