Job Satisfaction Hits Highest Level in More Than Two Decades

Survey shows steady gains in satisfaction over the past eight years
A happy employee

Despite growing fears that a recession may be on the horizon, workers are generally more satisfied with their jobs and near-term job outlook than they’ve been in more than 20 years, a new survey shows.

Each year, the Conference Board, a think tank focusing on business issues, polls employed Americans every year to get an idea of how satisfied they are with their current work situation. The results for the latest survey, released last week, found that the nation’s workforce is more satisfied than it has been in years.

The Conference Board polled approximately 2,000 workers across the country for the new survey, and more than half (53.7%) reported being satisfied with their current jobs — nearly three percentage points higher than the previous year.

Job satisfaction has been steadily increasing for the last eight years since reaching a low of 42.6% in 2010, the Conference Board found. Workers are also more satisfied than they’ve ever been since 1995, when job satisfaction hit 58.6%.

As part of the survey, the Conference Board asked participants to rank 23 factors that contribute to job satisfaction, including job security, wages, commute, the potential for future growth and work/life balance.

Respondents were most satisfied with their commute and the people they work with, as 60% reported satisfaction with each of those factors. Rounding out the top five factors were interest in work (59.9%), physical environment (59.3%) and job security (59.2%).

However, workers did not seem as keen on their long-term prospects for advancement. The factors employees were least satisfied with were their bonus plan (29.0%), promotion policy (30.7%), performance review process (32.9%), educational/job training programs (35.9%) and recognition/acknowledgement (36.9%).

Job security was the factor that saw the largest jump from the previous survey, with a rise of 5%. However, some subgroups saw even larger gains in certain metrics — for example, millennials (defined by the survey as those 35 and under) saw satisfaction with their salaries jump by 9.8%.

In terms of which factors contributed the most to job satisfaction, future growth potential was most important, while wages ranked only 10th out of the 23 factors listed.

When it comes to job satisfaction, it’s important to know what factors are most important to you. Only then can you objectively decide if your current job is worth sticking with or if you should begin floating resumes around. If you’re not satisfied with your current job or employer, you might start your job search by seeing what other companies employees are most happy with.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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