What can employees do for themselves to improve their job satisfaction and engagement?

In May of this year, The Society for HR Management released findings from the Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Road to Economic Recovery research report which conducted a study of 600 randomly selected employees and assessed differences in responses related to the following demographics:

  • age (Millennials – generally refers to those born in the ‘80s/‘90s, Generation X – generally refers to those born in the ‘60s/‘70s, Baby Boomers – generally refers to those born in the ‘40s/‘50s, and Veterans – generally refers to those born in the ‘20s/‘30s)
  • gender
  • job levels (non-management, professional non-management, middle management and executive management)

The study looked at 3 things:

  1. job satisfaction
  2. engagement conditions
  3. engagement opinions and behaviors

Job satisfaction refers to how much study participants are satisfied with their job. Job engagement is defined in the report as “…employees’ connection and commitment to their particular organization”. Engagement is looked at in 2 components:

  1. conditions in the workplace (“the environment and the work itself”)
  2. workers’ opinions and behaviors (“how the employees perceive their relationship with their work, as well as how they view others around them”)

The report included suggestions on what organizations could do to address the findings and close some of the more significant satisfaction gaps. Organizations will ultimately do what they will do to address these findings (or not). Corporate efforts however will never be more powerful than what employees can do for themselves to become satisfied or engaged.

This data can be an inspiration for workers to protect themselves from loss of satisfaction and engagement no matter what their employer ultimately does. Why do it?

If being happy for at least 40 hours of your week doesn’t entice you, then for no other reason do it because you will raise your energy to attract another opportunity that will truly value your level of engagement and match (if not surpass) the level of job satisfaction you identify with – this is a law of physics!  Albert Einstein said “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it.  Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.  It can be no other way.  This is not Philosophy.  This is Physics.” 

In this blog I would like to offer you a brief summary understanding of the findings (see the full report here) and in the next few weeks, I will share insight about what you can do to find and sustain your own job satisfaction and engagement.

For this blog, here is a brief overview of the findings…

1.  Job Satisfaction:

The study looked at what factors employees feel matter for job satisfaction and their level of satisfaction with those factors. There were 4 things that more than half of the sample population reported as very important contributors for job satisfaction included:

  1. Compensation/pay
  2. Job Security
  3. Opportunities to use skills/abilities
  4. Relationship with immediate supervisor

These 4 factors were also the only factors that mattered to the sample population regardless of gender or age. Some other factors more comparably mattered in addition to or moreso to these 4 factors based on job level (professional non-managers comparably valued the work itself and benefits in addition to these 4 factors and executive levels valued the work itself and the organization’s financial stability over compensation/pay, job security or relationship with immediate supervisor).

Sadly however, the report reveals significant gaps in actual satisfaction with these factors – especially related to compensation/pay and opportunities to use skills/abilities.

2.  Engagement Conditions:

Employees report the following top 3 conditions in the workplace as mattering most for engagement:

  1. Relationship with co-workers
  2. Opportunities to use skills/abilities
  3. Relationship with immediate supervisor

These 3 factors mattered to the sample population regardless of gender, age or job level however executives and professional non-managers also placed a comparably high value on the work itself.

3.  Engagement Opinions and Behaviors:

Employees report the following top 5 opinions and behaviors as mattering most for engagement:

  1. I am determined to accomplish my work goals and confident
  2. I can meet them I frequently feel like I’m putting all my effort into my work
  3. While at work I’m almost always completely focused on my work projects
  4. I am highly motivated by my work goals
  5. I have passion and excitement about my work

These where the top 5 factors across gender and job level. Only 1 of these factors did not transcend across all ages. Millennials did not rank I have passion and excitement about my work among their top 5.

As you probably have heard, only 30% of the US workforce is actually engaged at work according to 2012 Gallup studies.  So while this study gives insight about factors that may drive engagement, something else is clearly missing for our workforce to actually be engaged. But what?

Many studies offer answers to the question “What can employers do to improve the workforce’s level of job satisfaction and engagement?” But maybe now, more than ever (especially since the newest generation in the workforce doesn’t report having passion and excitement about their work as being among their top 5 engagement opinion/behavior drivers), is the time to answer to this question – “What can employees do for themselves to improve their job satisfaction and engagement?”

I’ll offer my observations about strategies that have worked for me and the indigoforce in the coming weeks. Until then, ask yourself, “What can I do to improve in giving my skills and talents and in my relationship with my immediate supervisor?”  After all, these are the 2 factors that seem to be the most prevalent and consistent drivers of job satisfaction and engagement regardless of age, gender or job level.

About Gina Calvano

Gina Calvano is a certified coach and Senior Professional in Human Resources, with over 20 years of experience as a talent management professional in both the private and non-profit sectors. With a unique approach, she combines her strategic corporate expertise and accreditations with metaphysics and transformational thinking which has resulted in people all over the world feeling good about themselves and connected to a sense of purpose.

She created the Success Readiness Bootcamp™, a step by step process that enables people to easily discover their unique talents and abilities and match them to majors, jobs, industries and leisure pursuits. Gina is also the co-author of Breakthrough! Inspirational Strategies for an Audaciously Authentic Life with NY Times Best Selling Authors Marci Shimoff, Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood and Powerful Connections Made Easy™ with Aprille Trupiano, and is currently working on her next book — Caged in My Cube: The Turnaround Guide For Loving The Job You Hate.

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