If you are currently employed, what do you think about your job? Do you like it? Would you like to quit and find another job doing the same thing for a different company? Or would you like to stay with the same company but do a different job? These questions all concern a person’s job satisfaction. But exactly what is employee job satisfaction and why is it important?
What Is Employee Job Satisfaction?
Job satisfaction is simply how people feel about their jobs. Do they like or dislike them? If someone asks about your current job (or one you’ve had in the past) it isn’t hard to tell them whether you like it, hate it, or are somewhere in between. But job satisfaction is not just about your bottom line or overall satisfaction. Our feelings about different aspects of a job, called job satisfaction facets, can vary. We might be satisfied with one facet and not another. We might like a job overall but be dissatisfied with a certain facet.
Some of the commonly considered job satisfaction facets include:
- Coworkers: Are you satisfied with the people you work with?
- Fringe Benefits: The benefits you receive, both monetary (e.g., health insurance) and nonmonetary (e.g., vacation days per year).
- Pay: Your salary and salary raises over time.
- Promotion Opportunities: Is there a chance to move up in the organization?
- Supervision: Your direct supervisor and other supervisors you interact with.
- Work Itself: Do you enjoy the things you do at work?
How Do We Assess Job Satisfaction?
Job satisfaction is generally assessed with a survey administered to employees. People are given a series of questions concerning their jobs and are asked to make ratings, usually on a 5-point to 7-point scale from disagree very much to agree very much. Items measuring the same facet or overall satisfaction are summed into a total score to index satisfaction.
Surveys of employees are performed by academic researchers and organizational practitioners alike. Academic researchers use such surveys in their studies in an attempt to better understand how people feel about work. Organizational practitioners conduct surveys to benchmark how employees feel about work. This allows them to track the impact of organizational changes and improvements.
Why Is Job Satisfaction Important?
Job satisfaction is important because it is an indicator of how well people are matched to their jobs. If satisfaction is high, we have confidence that people are well matched in terms of their interests and talents, and that they feel well treated by the organization. If satisfaction is low, it suggests that there are potential issues that need attention. It raises a number of questions that need additional investigation to determine why employees are dissatisfied. There are many possibilities, so the satisfaction survey is only the first step. There are many things we might wonder about, including:
- Are people’s talents a good match to the job? If not, is it because we are not hiring the right people or is it that we need to improve employee training?
- Are people’s interests a good match to the job? This would be indicated by a low score on satisfaction with the work itself.
- Are supervisors treating subordinates well?
- Is there a toxic work culture?
- Do people feel fairly compensated for their efforts?
Scores on the facet scales and individual questions can provide hints about areas that are in need of improvement.
Why Should We Care about Job Satisfaction?
Job satisfaction is important because it is linked to important outcomes for both employees and organizations. Compared to the dissatisfied, satisfied employees have better mental and physical health, have higher work engagement, are more likely to remain at the organization, and are more productive. Satisfied customer service employees have more satisfied customers, and that can lead to future sales. A satisfied work force is an important sign that an organization is healthy, which in the long run benefits everyone.