Is Just Having a Job Enough?

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

Why are fully employed people job searching amidst a swell of negative job market news? Do employers know what Employees really want out of their jobs? Salary.com has conducted its 4th annual survey of employee job satisfaction to give insight into what really makes employees happy (and unhappy) in their jobs.

Fear of Being Fired?

You’re not alone. Most people are concerned about the current economy. Layoffs all around and those that have jobs wonder "Am I next?" It may be a luxury to wonder compared to people struggling to pay their bills. But many employees are dealing with the aftermath of massive downsizing and being a survivor isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Result? Lot of workers are "just in case" job searching and being proactive in lining up another job before the other shoe drops. Before you race to the door, learn more about the state of the job market and why employers want to keep you happy and productive.

Employee vs. Employer: Who’s Happy in their Job?

Employees are resilient...
The economic downturn still hasn’t depressed the majority of population, but it has made people lukewarm about their jobs. Most people report they are "somewhat" satisfied in their job ?roughly 65 percent ?but very few say they were "extremely" satisfied (less than 15 percent).

Employers are a bit out of touch...
Employers think nearly 30 percent of people are "extremely" satisfied. That number is double the amount employees reported. Of course, many factors affect job satisfaction.

Who’s Really Happy in their Job?

The Happy:
Not surprisingly, the more money you make and the bigger the job title, the more likely you are to be happy at your job. The most satisfied age group in the workforce is Working Retirees. The industries with the most satisfied workers are Healthcare and Internet.

The Unhappy:
By contrast jobs with hourly based pay, and lower level job titles showed the lowest employee satisfaction. Our survey showed the least happy age group was the Millennials, those under 30. The industry that had it worst this year for employee satisfaction was Financial Services.

"Just in Case" Job Seekers

Employees are looking.
If you are like most working people, you’ve dialed up surfing the job listings, dusted offer your resume and linked-in your entire outlook address book. According to our survey the number of currently employed people browsing job listings is up over 17% this year and most employers think just the opposite.

"Just in Case" Job Seekers

Are employers over-looking?
Nearly 65% of employers do not believe their employees are looking at other job opportunities. In reality, currently 65% of employed respondents to our survey are looking around. Also, 60% of employees plan to intensify their job search over next three months ?despite the economy. Nearly 80 percent of employers do not believe their employers would initiate a job search in next three months.

Should I stay or Should I go?

Despite the economy, people stay for different reasons than why they leave. People stay for 3 reasons - a best friend at work, a paycheck and an easy commute. People leave because of low pay, limited career path and no recognition.

Why People Stay
Good Relationship with Co-workers
Job Security
Desirable Commute

Why People Leave
Inadequate Compensation
Inadequate Development
Insufficient Recognition

Should I stay or Should I go?

Employers are making bigger strides to address these issues some of which don’t cost a ton of money. "Thank you and Great Job" is free and can go a long way to acknowledge the amount of work people do –especially after layoffs. In fact, many employers have active retention plans to keep their employees motivated. The trick is aligning it with want employees value.

The Time Value of Money

The biggest lever a company can pull to control costs is your salary. Last year companies budgeted 3.5% as a merit increase average. This year, many are uncertain about following that compensation plan, reducing or freezing wages adding to the level of dissatisfaction among employees. Best practices among employers is to carve out a budget to motivate and retain top performers but this year, even that may not be possible.

The Time Value of Money

Employees get it. What works next to compensation? Communication. Development and Work/Life Balance. Employees want to be heard, know what’s going on with the company and value their time over money. Employers can improve retention strategies by communicating early and often and rewarding top performers with remote privileges or flex time to drive up satisfaction and engagement.

Unhappy and Not Looking Yet.

The economy is a roadblock for some. Roughly 35 percent of people said they were not looking around for a job and 65 percent of them cited the bad economy. The need for a paycheck and benefits has the unhappy workers flying under the radar until the economy recovers. Believe it or not, good people can find good jobs in any economy. It may take longer than normal but people are finding jobs. This creates a pent-up demand and a significant potential for talent defection when the market recovers.

An Open Dialogue is Key

Employers can use help...
Stay engaged in the process; your employer doesn’t want talent to jump ship. Be proactive and look for opportunities to help HR work on retention within your company. You’d be surprised at how many employers want to check-in, connect and make the retention programs work. They designed them for you so if they’re not resonating ?be part of the solution.

Related Salary.com Content