How to Combat Low Job Satisfaction (And Help Your Employees Succeed)

There’s a new pandemic spreading across the U.S. workforce: low job satisfaction. 

It has the potential to infect every American worker, and in many cases the situation is chronic. Symptoms are wide-ranging, and effective remedies tend to vary from group to group. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can combat low job satisfaction: what factors lead to it, how to measure it, and the number one way to prevent it from infecting your team. 

advice to managers from their employees

Combatting Low Job Satisfaction

According to a Chron.com article on the effects of low job satisfaction, about 40% of American workers report high levels of stress in their jobs. That percentage is similar to a statistic from Apollo Technical showing that 35% of workers are unsatisfied with their jobs.

Low job satisfaction is even higher among Millenials. Only 45% of them report being happy with their jobs or career paths. The other 65% complain of stress, low pay, long hours, lack of appreciation, and uninteresting work. 

Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force as of 2016 according to Pew Research. 35% of workers are currently between the ages of 26 – 41.

With so much of our nation’s ability to produce quality goods and services resting upon the shoulders of this age group (as well as 42- to 57-year-old Gen Xers who come in a close second at 33%), a wise business manager will take time to find out what factors are causing so much low job satisfaction and figure out ways to overcome it among the people they lead.

Before you roll your eyes at “those Millennials and Gen Xers”, realize that they’re not alone. The effects of low job satisfaction reach all the way up to those in company leadership as well.

Back in 2016, Dan Cable wrote an article on organizational behavior for the London Business School in which he said that “many leaders feel trapped in work that isn’t meaningful to them, to make money to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t even like.”

Job Satisfaction Factors

There are several factors that lead to job satisfaction if they are present and active (or dissatisfaction if they are absent). 

Chron.com, once again, lists 6 key factors affecting job satisfaction:

  1. Good Working Conditions – Provide plenty of space, good lighting, proper equipment/technology, etc.
  2. Advancement Opportunity – Present a clear path to greater responsibility within your company, and offer to help pay for training, classes, etc. to help your employees gain more knowledge and qualifications.
  3. Manageable Workload and Stress – Be sure to plan projects well, create reasonable deadlines, and provide your employees with what they need to get their work done without having to operate in “crisis mode” every day.
  4. Positive Culture – Create an atmosphere in your business that is free from rudeness, hostility, and toxic relationships. Dave Ramsey even has a firm “no gossip policy” within his company that will get you fired for violating it.
  5. Approachable Leadership – Make sure your teams know that they can safely bring any question or concern to you or their supervisors.
  6. Decent Pay – Reward hard-working employees with competitive compensation and generous bonuses for going above and beyond.

How to Measure Job Satisfaction

There are two basic ways to measure job satisfaction effectively: traditional employee surveys and the Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS).

Employee satisfaction surveys can cover a wide range of questions. They’re a customizable way for companies to get specific feedback that is valuable to their particular workforce. An ENPS, however, only asks 3 simple questions:

  1. On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend [insert company] as a place to work?
  2. What do you like about [insert company]?
  3. What do you dislike about [insert company]?

The last two questions are there to provide open-ended opportunities for anonymous feedback. The first one, however, can deliver a measurable score for your company to track over time.

Employees who rate your company a 9 or 10 are considered “promoters”. They are your brand ambassadors who are most likely speaking positively about you wherever they go. 

Those who rate it a 7 or 8 are “neutral”; they like it there but aren’t too vocal about anything good or bad. 

Anyone who answers with a 6 or below is a “detractor.” They most likely are unsatisfied with their job and are at risk to leave if their situation doesn’t improve. The worst of these are extremely vocal and contribute to low morale among their peers. 

To calculate your company’s ENPS score, simply subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. (Neutrals don’t count in arriving at this score.) For instance, if you survey 100 people and 50% are promoters while 30% are detractors, your ENPS is (50-30): 20.

Any score above zero is considered good. A score from 10-30 is considered healthy. Anything above that put you in “best places to work” territory! Give it a try and see how your company does.

Most Important Benefits to Employees

The latest Employee Benefits Survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), shows that traditional benefit categories are still a priority for most employees:

  • Health – 88%
  • Retirement – 82%
  • Paid Leave – 82%

However, there are other less tangible benefits that workers see as important as well:

  • Work/life balance
  • Flexibility
  • Satisfactory salary
  • Job security
  • The work itself
  • A sense of purpose

Advice to Managers From Their Employees: Know Your People

The big takeaway we hope you get from this post is this: in order to serve your employees, you need to be sure that you know your employees.

The people you employ spend a big part of their lives around you. Next to their immediate family, you are probably one of the most significant parts of their life. 

When they feel like you know them, value them, and understand them they are far less likely to simply clock in, barely work, complain about it all, then eventually leave you for some other job.

Instead, when they know you care they will be motivated to bring their best selves to work and make a significant contribution while they are there. 

job satisfaction factors

Listening to Employees

No matter how great your workplace culture is, there are things your employees wish you knew but aren’t telling you. The key to knowing them is to listen to them. Make sure everyone understands that you are interested in hearing from them whenever they have a need. Even your loudest critics may have valid points and good ideas for improving things, so don’t discount them simply because they come across as negative or irritating.

Overcome Low Job Satisfaction With Trusted Advice From a Pro

If combatting and overcoming low job satisfaction within your company is something you’d like some help with, our team of business pros is ready to guide you to success!

Also, download our free guide to “9 Simple Accounting Mistakes That Are Costing Your Business Money.” From taxes to saving money to making your employees happier…we’ve got you covered!

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