If you are frustrated at work, dissatisfied with your career and ready to seek out new employment options, you’re not alone. Over the past few years, a majority of American workers report that they don’t want to come to work in the morning.
The Conference Board, a non-profit research group that’s based in New York, issued their latest report as part of a longitudinal study that researches Americans’ feelings about their jobs. The study began in 1987 when 61.1 percent of American workers expressed satisfaction with their work situation.
The study has shown that that the number of American workers who feel fulfilled and happy in their job situations is decreasing, though as of late, an increasing number of job-holders are reporting more satisfaction.
Since 1987, the Conference Board has conducted its job satisfaction survey every year. In 1987, the first year of the study 61.1 percent of workers said they liked their jobs. Over time, that number plummeted to an all-time low of 42.6 percent of satisfied job holders in 2010. The percentage of satisfied workers is again increasing but it’s still under the 50 percent mark, meaning that over half of American workers are unhappy in their job situations.
The poll surveys workers about how they feel about various aspects of their work experience. The study looks at confidence in job security, wages, vacation policies, promotion policies, sick leave, retirement benefits and health care benefits. In all of these areas, workers were happier in 1987 than they are now.
Only in the areas of physical environment and quality of equipment did workers note that they were more satisfied in their present work environment. There were small gains in those categories, with 56.4 percent reporting satisfaction with their physical environment today as opposed to 54.6 percent in 1987 and 55.2 percent who like their equipment today as opposed to 54.7 percent in 1987.
The report’s authors speculate that this is due to the increase in telecommuting options which give more people the chance to work from home today than at any time in the past.
For employers, these insights are leading them to respond by rethinking and improving workspaces and equipment.
In the categories of job security and health care benefits, workers’ satisfaction fell the most. In both those fields there was an 11 point drop since 1987. Employees are concerned about trends that include downsizing, benefit reductions and right-to-work laws that give employees the right to fire a worker at any time, for any reason.
These changes in the workplace mean that employees see their prospects for long-term work, with good benefits, with the same employer, eroding. In addition, workers are frustrated with ever-higher payroll deductions and health plan deductibles.
Men and Women
Finally the report provides interesting data which compares women’s and men’s satisfaction at work. 47.8 percent of men say that they are happy in their jobs. That compares to 46.3 percent of women who say that they’re satisfied with their work environment.
Some sociologists observe that this may be due to women’s frustration over the glass ceiling which, they perceive, limits them in regard to their promotions and compensations. 21.4 percent of women say that they’re satisfied with their promotion prospects versus 26.1 percent of men. 38.3 percent of men are satisfied with their wages versus 34.3 percent of women.
The Conference report also examines satisfaction gains. The results highlight the gap in satisfaction between workers at the bottom of the income scale and those with high incomes. Workers who take home more than $125,000 reported the highest levels of work satisfaction. Conversely, only 24.4 percent of employees who were earning under $15,000 were satisfied. Among medium-range wage-earners, 44.4 percent of those making between $50,000 and $75,000 indicated they were satisfied with their income.
When asked what makes them happiest at work, 59 percent of the survey respondents said that they were happy when they found their work interesting while 60.6 percent said that they were happy when they were surrounded by good co-workers.
Workers are most worried about layoffs. The economy has seen an increase in hiring lately but according to the Conference study, only 46.6 percent of employees say they are satisfied with their job security. That’s a significant decrease from the 59.4 percent who said that they felt secure in their jobs in 1987.
Analysts say that employers should take note of these findings if they want to maintain a loyal and competent workforce. Some suggestions include:
1. Offer more work-from-home options for employees who want to (and can) telecommute.
2. Create clear guidelines that delineate what type of promotions and compensations employees can expect.
3. Provide relaxation options in the workplace such as piped in music, vegas slots, games and food and drink.