January 28, 2020
Getting on well with colleagues gives workers greater job satisfaction than having a good salary, new research has claimed. “New Decade, New Direction” by the Institute of Leadership & Management asked more than 2,100 workers to identify the factors that affect their job satisfaction and explored their career plans for the new decade.
Good relationships with colleagues were seen as the most important factor in determining job satisfaction, cited by 77 percent of workers who said they were “satisfied” with their job. Among satisfied people, salary was the eighth most important factor in determining happiness in their job, whereas dissatisfied employees cited it as third. Overall, only 24 percent of respondents described themselves as “very satisfied” in their current role, while 48 percent were “somewhat satisfied”.
According to the research, partnered by Amazing If and Triangirls, access to training and development, being trusted to take on more responsibility and access to flexible working are also important for job satisfaction. Satisfied workers considered salary less important than feeling connected to the purpose of the organisation and having a challenging role.
Factors linked to dissatisfaction included feeling undervalued by managers (cited by nearly half of dissatisfied respondents), lack of development opportunities, low salary and negative company culture.
Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards at the Institute of Leadership & Management, said: “This research reveals that it can be the less concrete factors, such as relationships, that can make the difference between someone enjoying their job or not – and potentially wanting to leave. At a time when mental health and wellbeing is high on the agenda and rightly being taken more seriously, it’s particularly encouraging to see the majority of people recognising the importance of having good relationships with their colleagues and even giving it a higher priority than factors such as salary. These relationships can help to create a healthier and happier working environment, and a team with higher morale.
While they may persuade people to hang on in their current roles, pay rises won’t make anyone automatically like their jobs more.
“While they may persuade people to hang on in their current roles, pay rises won’t make anyone automatically like their jobs more. So, while pay is really important – particularly if we feel that, compared to others, we’re being inadequately rewarded – it still doesn’t provide us with intrinsic satisfaction with the work that we do. To help encourage greater levels of job satisfaction, it’s crucial for business leaders to understand what’s important to their staff, which isn’t always financially driven, as our findings show.”
What women – and men – want
The researchers claim that women seek job satisfaction through work-life balance, while men prefer a challenging role. For women who are satisfied in their current role, the findings suggest a short commute and generous annual leave entitlement add to their satisfaction. In contrast, men see challenging work and a positive company culture as more important. This seems to suggest external factors are more important to women than internal organisational ones.
Among dissatisfied workers, almost half of women said that feeling valued by their manager was an important factor affecting their job contentment. In contrast, male dissatisfaction was mostly affected by their trust in their CEO.
Job satisfaction affects career goals
The start of a new year – and decade – often inspires workers to reflect on their career goals, the Institute says. Expanding professional knowledge was voted the top career goal for 2020, being cited by 50 percent of all respondents. This was followed by getting better at leading and managing (36 percent) and improving work-life balance (32 percent). A fifth of all respondents said they want to get a new job in 2020 and 27 percent aim to get a pay rise this year. Among dissatisfied workers, however, getting a new job was the top priority, cited by 48 percent.
Women are more likely to want to work on their confidence in 2020 (30 percent, compared to 16 percent of men), whereas men want to focus on expanding their professional knowledge (53 percent, compared to 47 percent of women).
How to enhance job satisfaction
These are the Institute’s tips for managers who want to retain their staff and ensure their organisation is a great place to work:
- Don’t assume you know how people derive satisfaction from their work – ask them.
- Pay attention to non-financial aspects of a job – flexible working, challenging work and being valued are often very important and a higher salary does not always compensate for the absence of these aspects.
- Allow time for, and put effort into, creating opportunities to build the social relationships that are so important to so many people, paying special attention to flexible and remote workers.
- Bear in mind that social activities don’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Opportunities to have lunch or coffee together are important, so arrange meetings that include a proper break rather than ‘working through’.
- View paying for travel for regular face-to-face meetings as an investment, not an expense.
- Provide opportunities and encouragement for informal learning and the development of coaching skills.
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