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You Shouldn't Be Surprised at What Really Drives Employee Satisfaction

The following post is courtesy of board member, and Skeptical Guy, John Hollon. Here he discusses why giving your employees hope is what really drives employee satisfaction

I get lots of surveys drop into my in-box, and a great many of them aren't terribly insightful. However, this recent one from The Conference Board was different than most.

It surprised me.

Here's why: It said that job satisfaction in the U.S. has increased for the eighth consecutive year and is now at 54 percent, the highest in more than 20 years.

That's pretty impressive. However, you should also consider this -- if 54 percent of Americans are happy with their job, it also means that 46 percent of workers aren't quite so satisfied.

Make of that what you will.

3 Things That Drive Job Satisfaction

The things that REALLY jumped out at me in this survey were the three factors that were found to influence job satisfaction the most. These are, as The Conference Board put it, the "strongest drivers" of job satisfaction with "the most weight and pull."

That sounds like something we should really want to know more about, doesn't it?

Here are the three things The Conference Board found that influence job satisfaction the most:

  1. The potential for future growth -  "Other major job influencers include (strong) communication channels, recognition/acknowledgement, interest in their work, and the performance review process."
  2. Money can't buy more job satisfaction - "Wages rank only 10th out of 23 drivers of satisfaction. This finding agrees with the larger body of academic and corporate literature that states employees are not motivated purely by salary."
  3. Commutes don't matter all that much - "Despite reports about workers experiencing more stressful, sometimes longer commutes, travel to and from work generally plays a minimal role in influencing overall job satisfaction. (And in fact, the commute to work leads the way among areas in which workers are most satisfied, as it was a known choice when they were hired.)"

This is interesting, but it's not what you would call breaking news. Do you really need a Conference Board survey to know that these three things are the critical factors that make people feel more satisfied about their job?

Of course you don't, but that doesn't mean that this survey doesn't underline something important that all managers really need to remember.

Hope: A Four Letter Word That You Need to Remember

No matter what kind of employees you manage, whether it be minimum wage workers, salaried professionals, or something in between, you need to make sure you're giving them something very important -- hope.

They need the hope that they will be able to grow and build their career while in your employ. That, above all other factors, is what drives employee satisfaction the most.

As The Conference Board survey found, what you pay and how easy the commute is are not terribly important factors for many employees, but the ability to build a career and a viable future is the big game changer that dramatically impacts if your employees are satisfied or not.

And, satisfied people usually stay put and continue to grow. Unsatisfied workers who believe they don't have many career or growth prospects while in your employ will be much more likely to hit the road.

"Our research reveals that workers place the biggest premium on a job's potential for future growth, but at the moment 60 percent of U.S. workers feel dissatisfied with this component,” noted Robin Erickson, Ph.D, an author of the report and a Principal Researcher at The Conference Board.

And she added this important point: “To help change course - and ultimately, retain their employees so they gain an edge in this tight labor market - organizations should make a greater commitment to total talent mobility, a holistic approach to both internal and global mobility.”

The Key to Better Retention

Nurturing employees and helping them grow in their job is always the smart thing to do. After all, a number of surveys have been making this point for years, and this latest one from The Conference Board is just the most recent to show just how critical job growth is for everyone.

If you're doing this right now in your workplace, that's great -- but you should be looking to take your employee development to the next level.

If you're NOT doing it all that much, well, you better get going while there is still time ... before more employees decide they can grow their careers better someplace else.

Helping employees to grow is the key to retention. The more they grow, the more likely they are to stay on board.

Given how tight today's job market is, how can you NOT afford to be helping employees feel they can stay put and see their careers grow?

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