We all want to find joy in our jobs. After all, we spend the majority of our waking hours working.
Based on what the latest job satisfaction statistics tell us, the question of whether an individual is happy or not largely depends on whether or not they have work, how well they get paid, whether the work they do is engaging to them, and whether or not they get recognized for it.
Satisfaction stems from a complex cocktail of elements that creates that elusive feeling of fulfillment at work. But, how many of us can genuinely say we have job satisfaction?
Key Job Satisfaction Statistics
- 23% of employees across the globe are "thriving at work" in 2023, the highest level of employee engagement ever recorded since Gallup started their annual survey in 2009.
- According to a recurring survey run by Conference Board (running since 1987), US worker satisfaction continues to increase. Their latest findings, derived from 2022 data, show the overall segment of satisfied workers is 62.3%. The highest percentage recorded.
- As a point of comparison, 56.8% of workers surveyed in 2020 said they were satisfied with their job.
- The historical low point was 42.6%. This score was recorded in the U.S. after the Great Recession in 2010.
- Men earn more than women on average and seem to be sailing on a happier ship in the workplace than women. According to survey data, men experience a higher level of job satisfaction in every aspect of their jobs. The overall job satisfaction score of participating male workers stands at 64%. Female workers are, on average, 60.1% satisfied with their jobs.
- The gender divide in job satisfaction is most notable in sick day policies with 60.4% satisfaction among men compared to 51% satisfaction among women.
- Bonus plans are another area where the genders disagree. 50.5% satisfaction was recorded among men and 42.3% satisfaction among women.
- Satisfaction with mental health benefits is another disparate aspect of job satisfaction. 53% of men are satisfied with the mental health support they receive at work. vs 44.9% satisfaction among women.
- What workers do matters a lot to them. So much so that, in a 2023 SSR survey, 69.8% of workers said they’d take on a two-hour commute for a job they really want over a mediocre position that's two minutes away from their home.
- Job satisfaction starts on Day One. A recent Korn Ferry report notes that 93% of companies are concerned about employee retention, in part because first-year attrition in the U.S. and U.K. are around 20% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
- The report points to insufficient orientation and an expectation-reality mismatch as likely causes.
Statistics on How Remote Work Impacts Job Satisfaction
- In 2021, the U.S. National Library of Medicine published findings on work-related well-being that state working from home increased the likelihood of job stress by 22%.
- Despite an increase in workplace stress, the study found remote work increased the likelihood of job satisfaction by 65%.
- Evidently, a rigorous work schedule is the enemy of job satisfaction. The report cited above found that change in job schedule decreased the likelihood of job stress by 20% and increased the likelihood of job satisfaction by 62% — a testament to how much workers value flexibility in when and where they work.
- The freedom to take time off work more than doubled the likelihood of job satisfaction.
- Based on the individual components of satisfaction recorded by Conference Board (cited previously), a lot of the recent spike in workers’s satisfaction can be attributed to an increase in the prevalence of remote and hybrid work policies. 60.1% of surveyed workers said they were satisfied with their work/life balance. This is 5.8 percentage points higher than the 2021 data— the most significant increase of all the individual components of job satisfaction studied.
- Other components of job satisfaction related to remote work are commute (67.7% satisfaction up from 66.4% in 2021), and flexi-time policies (54.2% satisfaction up from 52.4% in 2021).
- As one would expect, remote workers are the most satisfied with their working environment. 70.2% are happy with their everyday surroundings, while 64.6% of in-office workers said the same.
- The segment of the study that follows a hybrid work model reported the highest satisfaction score in most aspects of job satisfaction, compared to respondents working fully remote or fully in-office. However, at 68.3%, satisfaction with job security is strongest in employees who work on-premises.
- Remote workers, with a score of 58.7% feel the least secure about their employment.
- Among people who temporarily left the workforce in recent years and returned, the top reason for returning to the workforce, cited by 44% of respondents to a McKinsey survey, was the promise of workplace flexibility.
- Notably, of the top ten U.S. states that had the highest percentage of remote workers in 2023, two are also among the five states with the highest scores on the SSR Employee Happiness Index. Specifically, these states are Colorado and Minnesota.
- Recent appeals from employers to return to in-office models have been met with significant resistance. Among remote and hybrid workers recently surveyed by Deloitte, two-thirds (66%) say they would likely leave their current job if their company made a full-time return to the office mandatory.
Statistics on How Remuneration Impacts Job Satisfaction
When all is said and done, we work to make a living. What we bring home in exchange for our time and effort plays a leading role in how happy people are with their jobs.
- According to recent data published by the Pew Research Centre, 51% of surveyed workers are generally happy with their jobs. However, the satisfaction scores on individual components of their employment reveal that only 34% are “extremely happy” or “very satisfied” with how much they are paid.
- Notably, the Pew study found that job satisfaction differs by income. 57% of respondents from high-income households are satisfied with their jobs overall. 49% are specifically happy with what they get paid.
- By comparison, 45% of respondents from low-income households are satisfied with their jobs overall. In this group, only 25% are satisfied with their remuneration.
- Alaska, the U.S. state with the highest score (69.96) on the SSR Employment Happiness Index (cited above), has a comparatively high average annual wage of $52,000. It helps that Alaska also has an average of 31.3 hours in their work week.
- By comparison, Massachusetts came out as the state with the highest earnings at $58,450 per annum. The SSR Employee Happiness Index places the state as having the 11th happiest workers in the U.S.
- Income is also a partial reason why Conference Board recorded a median job satisfaction score 3.6% higher among those who have found a new job since the pandemic began, compared to those who have not. A new job often implies a higher salary.
- The largest recorded discrepancy (57.4 percentage points), in a factor of satisfaction between workers who intend to leave and stay with their current employer is how satisfied people are with their wages.
- At 83.4%, remuneration is also the highest point of satisfaction among employees who have no intention of looking for alternative work.
- Drilling down into the data, we see workers who voluntarily changed employers since the start of the pandemic in 2020 gave their income a satisfaction score of 66.4%. That’s nearly 20% higher than the income satisfaction score recorded by employees who stuck around in the pre-covid job (55.6%).
Statistics on How Job Satisfaction Affects Employee Retention
It is logical that a lack of job satisfaction would make employee retention more difficult as staff are incentivized to look for alternative employment. This is especially evident in Conference Board’s comparison of job satisfaction scores between employees who intend to leave their current job, and those who are planning to stay.
- Overall job satisfaction among workers who said they would like to leave their jobs was recorded as a mere 19.9%.
- By comparison, job satisfaction among employees with no intention of looking for alternative work opportunities was 76.3% — a substantial difference of 56.4 percentage points.
- It is not just the work people do, but also who they do it with that matters here. McKinsey found that workplace relationships are a driving force of job satisfaction. How an employee relates to their colleagues accounts for 39% of their experience.
- The interpersonal impact is most evident in leadership and people management. Employee relationships with management, in particular, account for 86% of their job satisfaction.
- A 2023 labor market survey found that 56% of the U.S. workforce intends to look for a new job in the next 12 months. While there are many reasons an individual could be looking for alternative employment, job satisfaction is a key driver in this number.
- Notably, the study found that nearly one in 10 employed Americans are concerned about their job security. This is not surprising given the prevalence of layoffs in 2022 and 2023.
- The Great Resignation, a major reshuffling of workers during and directly after the pandemic, has a happy ending. According to the Conference Board report cited above, job satisfaction among surveyed workers who voluntarily left their jobs since the pandemic began sits at an overall 65.7%.
- By comparison, workers who are still in the same job are 62.1% satisfied— still not a bad score. However, the areas of satisfaction where the two groups significantly differ are notable.
- Of employees who changed jobs, 60.9% are satisfied with their access to education and training programs at work. Of employees who are at the same job, 44.5% were satisfied with the education and training.
- Of employees who changed jobs, 60.2% are satisfied with their company's mental health policy. Of employees who are at the same job, 44.5% were satisfied with the education and training.
- Of employees who changed jobs, 62.2% are satisfied with the potential for career growth at their current employer. Of employees who are at the same job, 50.2% were satisfied with their potential for career growth.
Statistics on How Employee Recognition Impacts Job Satisfaction
We know recognition and positive feedback are important. But, looking at the data, there is no denying it is a driving force of employee satisfaction, or lack thereof.
- 64% of employees believe that the quality of feedback they receive should be better.
- Overall, there seems to be improvement happening on this front. According to the Conference Board report, 52.1% of employees are satisfied with the recognition and acknowledgment they received at work last year.
- The year before, satisfaction regarding recognition was 48.4%— 3.7 percentage points lower.
- Satisfaction with recognition is higher among men than women. Male employees recorded a satisfaction score of 54.7% for recognition and acknowledgment. Their female counterparts scored 48.6% satisfaction for the same.
- The Pew Research Centre study, cited above, notes that 49 of American employees are “extremely satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the feedback they receive at work.
Increasing Job Satisfaction Among Your Employees
Employee satisfaction is the cornerstone of a successful organization. It plays a significant role in productivity, fostering loyalty, and creating virtual cycles to attract top talent.
A positive and supportive work environment forms the bedrock of employee satisfaction. As a business or HR leader, your job is to care about what your employees care about. It also means maintaining an open door and a receptive attitude to what is bothering them.
If a challenge at work is standing in the way of their job satisfaction, supporting them means working together to remove that obstacle.
- A global study by UKG found that 38% “wouldn’t wish their job on their worst enemy.”
- That figure is higher than the median if you only look at the U.S. Among American respondents, 45% were deeply unhappy at work.
- A notable reason for this dissatisfaction is purpose. A mere 11% of the workers taking part in the survey felt as though their job was their “calling.”
- The second most common reason for dissatisfaction, cited by 22% of dissatisfied workers, is a lack of recognition — they feel underappreciated. According to a separate SHRM study, 86% of companies with employee recognition programs reported an increase in employee happiness and job satisfaction.
- Tied at third place for reasons employees have to hate their job are an overly heavy workload and a lack of communication. Both of these reasons were cited by 19% of unhappy workers.
- Next in line, cited by 18% of dissatisfied workers, is a lack of opportunity for career advancement.
If a worker perceives that their employer is not interested in hearing these grievances, or is open to hearing them, but won't do anything to remedy the situation, there is a clear lack of support. Although it isn't possible for anyone to love their job 100% of the time, an employee who can raise these concerns and have the company's support in finding a suitable solution will be more satisfied overall.
Looking at these statistics, there is no doubt that working environments impact job satisfaction through recognition, flexibility, fair remuneration, and opportunity for career development. The downstream effect of job satisfaction is greater loyalty among employees which manifests in more effort and retention. It is therefore the business interest of organizations to create employee experiences that prioritize job satisfaction.
By fostering an atmosphere where employees feel valued and supported, both in their careers and on a personal level, you create a robust platform in which job satisfaction can be maintained.