Happy To Be Working Doesn’t Mean Happy Workers

May 25, 2010

Managing employer-employee expectations can bridge the satisfaction gap

There were 4,150,000 job vacancies advertised online in April, an increase of 222,700 in the month of April and 870,000 over the last six months, according to The Conference Board, http://www.conference-board.org/ a New York-based organization that creates and disseminates knowledge about management and the marketplace.

An increase in jobs sure sounds like good news. Perhaps not too surprisingly in a down economy, a large number of people who are lucky enough to have a job are not happy and would make a change if they felt more optimistic about their prospects.

“Americans of all ages and income brackets continue to grow increasingly unhappy at work‑a long-term trend that should be a red flag to employers,” according to the report U.S. Job Satisfaction at Lowest Level in Two Decades,” released today by The Conference Board.

The report, based on a survey of 5,000 U.S. households conducted for The Conference Board by TNS, finds only 45 percent of those surveyed say they are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61.1 percent in 1987, the first year in which the survey was conducted.

Fewer Americans are satisfied with all aspects of their employment, and no age or income group is immune. In fact, the youngest employees (those currently under age 25) express the highest level of dissatisfaction ever recorded by the survey for that age group.

“There needs to be a paradigm shift,” said Kathy Dean, CEO of TeneoTalent, an innovative online sales placement firm recently launched in Boulder Colorado, that provides sophisticated employer and employee job matching, coaching and job placement services. “You have to start at the very beginning of the process, matching numerous variables to ensure that a company and employee are both the right fit for each other. Traditionally, it has been only the employee that has taken an assessment test, leaving it to chance whether or not s/he would fit in at the company. Now it is essential to have a “litmus test” for both employers and employees,” she added.

“While one in 10 Americans is now unemployed, their working compatriots of all ages and incomes continue to grow increasingly unhappy,” says Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center of The Conference Board. “Through both economic boom and bust during the past two decades, our job satisfaction numbers have shown a consistent downward trend.”

“The downward trend in job satisfaction could spell trouble for the overall engagement of U.S. employees and ultimately employee productivity,” adds Franco.

By looking at this problem in a new way and using new technology, we hope to solve the problem of job dissatisfaction with its companion costs of employee turnover, said Dean.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mark Dreher May 26, 2010 at 3:27 pm


I think your points are spot on. Creating a new employment relationship is definitely a two way street. A few months ago, I was tasked as a consultant to fill 10 brand new sales jobs for a SaaS company. As we evaluated candidates, we really tried to look at the situation from all angles; will the individual fit amongst the group, with the management team, and alongside clients. And then we turned that on it’s head to understand the reverse.

I’m glad we invested the time and energy to do this more exhaustive process. The company is doing very well indeed, and turnover has been much lower that what I’d expect with a new sales team and a new product.

Thank you, and be well!


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