Job satisfaction levels have been dropping in the United States and internationally, according to three recent studies. In this article, we’ll explore each of these studies to find out why workers have been so unhappy, how many employees plan on leaving their jobs, and how job satisfaction levels vary across age groups. Plus, we’ll share tips for improving your situation if you feel unhappy at work.
2011 Study on Low Job Satisfaction in the United States: Half of Americans Unhappy at Work
A recent survey of nearly 2,400 American employees found half were unhappy at work, confirming the low levels of national and international job satisfaction identified by other recent studies. This survey was conducted by Mercer, a human resources and financial advising firm. It was published earlier this year.
Despite these low levels of job satisfaction, most people were not seriously considering quitting their jobs:
- 32% of Americans had been seriously thinking about leaving their jobs
- 47% of Americans had not been seriously thinking of quitting their jobs
- 21% did not commit to either survey response—that is, neither quitting nor staying
You may think the people considering quitting would be the least engaged at work, but it was actually the 21% of people who didn’t feel strongly either way who seemed least engaged.
For example, each participant was asked to evaluate whether they thought they were being treated fairly at work. Out of the respondents not considering leaving, 83% said they were being treated fairly. However, only 58% of those considering quitting said they were treated fairly, and only half of the undecided people felt that way.
To see a more dramatic example, consider the responses to this statement: “I believe my organization as a whole is well-managed.” Out of those employees not considering quitting, 68% agreed with that statement. However, just half of those employees thinking of quitting agreed, and only 29% of the disaffected group agreed.
2010 Study on Low Job Satisfaction in the U.S.: Over Half of Employees in America Not Satisfied with Jobs
A 2010 Conference Board survey found slightly more than half of Americans have been unsatisfied with their jobs. The Conference Board is a non-profit business membership and research group.
The Conference Board survey, which included 5,000 American households, found that only 45% of people were satisfied with their jobs. In 1987, the first year this survey was administered, 61% of respondents said they were satisfied with their jobs.
Job satisfaction levels were particularly low for the under 25 demographic—just 36% of respondents said they were satisfied with their jobs. In 1987, 56% of people in this demographic were satisfied with their jobs. For all age groups, however, less than half of people reported being satisfied at work.
The Conference Board divided drivers of employee engagement into four categories: job design, organizational health, quality of management, and extrinsic rewards. The drop in job satisfaction was found across categories and in all four areas of employee engagement.
Low Job Satisfaction Internationally: Over Half of Employees Not Satisfied with Jobs
And it’s not just employees in the United States that struggle with low rates of job satisfaction. According to Accenture, a global management consulting firm, job satisfaction levels have been sinking globally.
The Accenture study included over 3,400 employees in 29 nations. The study was published early in 2011. Men and women were equally represented. Overall, under half of respondents were satisfied with their jobs.
As in the Mercer study, most employees were not seriously considering quitting their jobs. Out of all the respondents, 70% of women and 69% of men planned to remain with their companies.
And, as was found in the Conference Board survey, low levels of job satisfaction struck all age brackets. However, in contrast to the Conference Board survey, the lowest rates of job satisfaction came from workers between 45 and 54 years of age.
Why has job satisfaction been so low around the world? Here are the study respondents’ top 4 reasons:
- 47% of women and 44% of men have been feeling underpaid
- 36% of women and 32% of men reported lack of opportunities for growth
- 33% of women and 34% of men reported no opportunities for career advancement
- 29% of women and 32% of men have been feeling trapped
Interestingly, only 32% of women and 31% of men said they had a formal or informal mentor. Traditionally, workers learned their trades through a system of apprenticeship—perhaps the lack of guidance for modern employees might contribute to their poor job satisfaction levels.
What about you?
If you are one of the many people who are unsatisfied at work, is there hope for improving your situation? We at Resume Advantage Pro believe there is! But, if you want to experience real job satisfaction, you can’t just wait for things to change at work. There is no way to change your co-workers or supervisor. There is only one thing you have the power to change, and that is your behavior.
Start making choices today to empower yourself as a professional. Consider changing careers or branching out to new industries. choose a career mentor to help you get on the right path. Look into career counseling to help you evaluate your options.
People say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. If you are experiencing low levels of job satisfaction, you need to figure out what you can change in order to get different results. You will not only improve your satisfaction with your job, you will improve your satisfaction with your life.