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18 Startling Job Satisfaction Statistics and Why They Matter

Over the last several years, America has faced a job dissatisfaction epidemic. Studies from the past decade cited stress, low wages, and a myriad of other statistics that pointed to a general lack of excitement around employment. Fortunately, over the past year or two, that has begun to change. Even amidst the pandemic, with the way that people work changing so drastically, many people are feeling great about their employment situation. So why not look at some job satisfaction statistics to see how the pandemic has affected work life. 

What makes someone happy or unhappy in their job? What’s the difference between a highly satisfied employee and one who is about to quit? These answers matter. Ten years ago, people weren’t paying as much attention. But now, smart business leaders know that job satisfaction plays a big role in productivity and profitability. 

Employees celebrating at work - employee satisfaction and success

The most profitable companies are also likely to have the most satisfied employees – and that’s not a coincidence. We’re detailing 20 of the latest job satisfaction statistics here, but more importantly, why they matter. 

Savvy managers keep a pulse on how their staff is feeling – and for good reason. Job satisfaction statistics give an overarching understanding of the state of overall job satisfaction today. Additional, it can give insights into what your own company can do to ensure you don’t lose employees and become a statistic yourself. 

18 Job Satisfaction Statistics

1. Americans are happier to have jobs now that ever before.

Workers are happier to have a place of employment now than they were before COVID-19 hit. Americans are moderately happier, with the Workplace Happiness Index increasing from 71 to 73 (out of 100) in a year.  Even with the upheaval of today’s standard work environment, both part-time and full-time workers are generally more satisfied with their employment situation than last year. The pandemic has made employees re-think what it means to be employed.

2.  54% of Americans are very satisfied with their current job.

More than half of the US employees polled in May of 2020 claimed to be “very satisfied”. This is a strong indicator that job satisfaction is moving in a positive direction. 9,000 workers in the U.S. were polled. This is an improvement from the previous year (December 2019), where only 47% were “very satisfied”.

Job Satisfaction despite COVID-19 - female worker working with a mask and headphones on

3. Workers are happier but also working harder.

COVID-19 has made may workers reprioritize their work. This may be due to more flexibility being offered, as well as increased options for remote work. The findings from this survey indicated that there is a correlation between employee attitudes and working remotely. 38% of workers are happier now that they are employed that before the pandemic hit. This is due to the fact that so many individuals have lost their jobs in this difficult time. But that doesn’t mean work hasn’t gotten harder. Finding a good work-life balance can be challenging when working remotely.

4. 37% of American considered “good work-life balance” as most essential. 

Between children, hobbies, aging parents, pets, and other commitments, it’s hard to find balance. Individuals want to feel like they are encouraged to spend time outside of the office making their life more meaningful. Balance is important. Especially, with the COVID-19 pandemic and being required to work remotely.

5. The biggest contributor to job satisfaction is the “potential for growth.” 

American employees value the potential for growthPeople don’t like to feel stagnant when it comes to their talents or what they can earn – the ability to get promoted or learn more plays a large role in someone’s job satisfaction. Out of a  possible 23 drivers of job satisfaction, “potential for growth” ranked the highest. Concluding that employee career paths are important to them.

6. Job security is became more important for employees.

In uncertain times, people want to count on predictability, especially when it comes to a paycheck. Offering job security or stability is a sure way to increase employee retention, find new employees and improve job satisfaction. 

7. 62% of American employees are willing to take a pay cut. 

Wait what? 62% of full-time workers in the United States are willing to take a decrease in pay in order to work for a company with a mission they believe in. Let that sink in. It’s not about money for most. It’s about feeling fulfilled at work and that your work matters. Though we just mentioned people valuing a steady paycheck, most professionals are willing to reduce their take-home pay in order to support a vision they can feel good about. 

8. Only 42% of employees know their organization’s vision, mission, and values.

This is an interesting statistic given statistic number 7. Almost two thirds of employees are willing to take a pay cut for something they believe in, when only two out of five employees actually know their companies mission and vision. Clearly, there is a disconnect. If you’re not sharing your overall mission and values with employees, you should. It matters. 

9. Only 15% of full-time employees worldwide are engaged at work.

Employee engagement statistics show that only 15% of 1 billion full-time employees are actively engaged at work.  Put, differently an alarming 85% of global employees are not engaged in their work. Meaning they don’t perceive their work to be positive or engaging. Modern executives know that employee engagement is crucial to not only employee retention but also their company’s success.

10. Unhappy workers can cost up to $550 billion a year. 

The cost of an unhappy worker in America is between $450 and $550 billion in a single year. Meaning disengaged employees are expense. There is a very tangible financial impact attached to a dissatisfied employee, making employee retention is critical.  This is very concerning given the fact that only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged. 

Team meeting where everyone looks disengaged and bored

11. Career satisfaction reduces employee turnover.

It’s fairly obvious, but is worth repeating: people who are happy in their jobs are less likely to leave their company. Essentially, employee satisfaction is a reliable indicator of employee retention.

12. 43% of people would leave their current job for a 10% salary increase.

That’s a startling statistic because 10% of the average salary isn’t that much. Which things make the difference between employee retention and employee turnover?  The answer is weak company culture. It’s not really about the money, it’s about the company at large. 

13. Wage satisfaction jumps the highest among millennials. 

Millennials job satisfaction is greatly impacted by their pay, though employees between ages 33 and 54 continue to be the group most satisfied with their pay. Baby boomer respondents were less concerned with wage satisfaction. 

14. Referrals reduce hiring times by 40%. 

Referrals can be a critical element of obtaining new staff. Having employees recommend your company to other professionals can significantly reduce your recruitment efforts. Offering employee referral bonuses can impact how willing employees are to make referrals.

15. Happiness improves sales.

When employees are happy at work, they tend to get more done, they become faster workers. Additionally, studies show they also rack up 13% more sales as compared to unhappy co-workers.  Based on research, it’s been demonstrated that happy workers make more calls and work harder to convert those calls to actual sales. This is strong causal evidence between satisfaction and productivity. 

16. A company’s biggest expense is its employees. 

Any business carries many expenses. Payroll and human resources, in other words, employees are a companies biggest cost. Because of this, too many companies try to scrimp and save on this line item, but they need to consider the larger impacts of doing so. Focus on career development to keep employees happy and reduce recruiting expenses. 

17. Being a team player and collaboration are the top traits employees love about their co-workers.

Co-workers should get along. It improves the work environment and can increase job satisfaction. There are many quality a good co-worker has. Business leaders should do whatever they can to facilitate cooperation and communication between colleagues. Working as a team is vital for organizational and business success.

18. Management transparency is the top factor when determining employee happiness.

Generally speaking, people just want you to be straight with them. Trust in management and in the future of the company is a key component to keeping employees engaged. Transparency is the key to reducing employee turnover, increase satisfaction and retention.

Why Job Satisfaction Statistics Matters

At this point you might be thinking, “Interesting facts, but what do they really mean?” How much does job satisfaction statistics really matter? 

The truth is job satisfaction matters much more than most business leaders know or acknowledge. As we stated, the companies with the highest job satisfaction rates also tend to be the most profitable. There is a direct correlation between employee’s job satisfaction and profitability and productivity. Need proof? 

A study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happy employees were 12% more productive, while disengaged workers proved 10% less productive. On an intuitive level, that makes sense. Naturally, more energy is put towards work that people are engaged and excited about. Similarly, if staff genuinely like the company and managers they work for, they will want to create positive results and be recognized. 

Diverse Team of happy employees

If employees feel bored and undervalued, it will affect their performance in the opposite way. It’s essential that employers empower their teams and give them room to grow. Boredom is stifling on productivity. Simply stated, bored people quit. 

Even if those people don’t quit, you can be sure they aren’t putting forth their best effort. It’s essential to help employees to feel empowered through flexibility, the ability to display creativity, and showing appreciation. 

Job Satisfaction and Company Bottom Line

There is a direct correlation between job satisfaction and your bottom line. Here are a few reasons why. 

1.  Happy employees want to stay and succeed

Not only are happy employees less likely to quit (leaving you to take on the expensive process of recruiting and onboarding new people), they are more likely to bring passion to their role.

2. Engaged employees will refer others

It’s a pricey process to fill an opening in your company. Before you can even get into the onboarding, salary, and benefits, you have to find a person who is the right fit. The process of recruiting that individual, costs an average of $3,500. That doesn’t account for the opportunity costs of having that role unfilled for a specific time period. On the other hand, if your employees love the organization, they’ll be eager to refer potential employees that will cut down on recruiting expenses and time. Not only that, they are more likely to refer high caliber individuals, since they don’t want just anyone to be a part of their team. According to a study done by Stanford, employees hired through referrals have increased productivity, lower turnover and reduced screening costs – so referrals are a win-win for your business and the new employee.

3. Companies with satisfied workers have increased productivity and output

Simply put, when your employees are happy they just care more. Employee satisfaction is linked to an increase in creativity, productivity, and overall quality of work. Happier employees are more efficient and productive. They also put more thought into what they’re doing. Companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20%. In addition, employees who report being happy at work take ten times fewer sick days than unhappy employees, and people with “a best friend at work” are 7 times more likely to engage in their work. To use a department specific example, happy salespeople produce 37% more sales. What does that equate to in your organization?

Closing Thoughts

In still more scientific backing, another study demonstrated a strong correlation between employee satisfaction and customer loyalty. The study focused on four key performance indicators that are arguably the most important for business: customer loyalty, employee productivity, profitability measures, and staff turnover.

They found employee satisfaction to have a substantial positive correlation with customer loyalty and a substantial negative correlation with staff turnover. The correlation with productivity is positive and strong. These job satisfaction statistics prove that there is a moderately positive correlation between employee satisfaction and profitability.

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