SHRM 2010 Employee Job Satisfaction Report: Don’t Forget the Individual Perspective

The Society for Human Resource Management just posted its annual look at the factors that drive employee satisfaction in the workplace.  One unique element of the SHRM research is that it looks at the factors from two perspectives—employees and HR professionals.  First time readers of the report will be surprised that the lists of what employees want from the workplace and the list of what HR professionals perceive they want do not match up exactly.  But in reality, it makes perfect sense, because each group perceives the environment a little differently depending on their experience.  Let’s take a look at the two rankings in this year’s report, identify the differences, and explore what it means for leaders in today’s organizations.

First, the employees’ ranking

  1. Job security
  2. Benefits
  3. Opportunities to use skills and abilities

Next, the HR professionals’ ranking

  1. Relationship with immediate supervisor
  2. Job security
  3. Communication between employees and senior management

While both lists have job security in their respective rankings you’ll also see that benefits are only on the employee list while “relationship with immediate supervisor” and “communication between employees and senior management” are only on the HR professionals list.

What accounts for this discrepancy?  The difference is perception.  While benefits are certainly important to employees the issues that HR professionals are hearing about in their offices are relationships with immediate supervisor and overall communication.

What does this mean?  Two things.  One, as an HR professional, don’t let data summaries distract you from the most important message.  People are unique, with unique needs and desires.  Every individual perceives their work environment differently.  Survey results should never take the place of one-on-one conversations.

Two, as a manager, remember that you are on the front lines in making sure that everyone has a voice and feels listened to and heard.  Don’t assume you know what your employees want and how they feel about the way that things are going.  Take a minute to sit down and find out where your employees stand personally with each of the issues identified in this year’s SHRM report. To see all of the data collected along with some ideas for action steps, be sure to check out the complete report here.

6 thoughts on “SHRM 2010 Employee Job Satisfaction Report: Don’t Forget the Individual Perspective

    • Hi David–I think you’re right that people will start to look at other things like freedom or autonomy more as conditions improve. Would you agree with some researchers who believe that job security is a foundational factor that has to be in place for all people?

  1. Agree with David – job security comes in the first place on the employees’ list mainly because of the economy.Appearance of this factor in the employers’ list for me is an indicator that companies recognize that the economy isn’t stable. It also, hopefully, confirms that there have been enough communication on this matter between employers and employees.

    However, difference in two other factors again shows that everyone has its own agenda, and notwithstanding the fact that we want our HR programs to be unified, less time consuming in terms of their design and coordination, people are different and need individual approach. Such individual approach cannot be HR’s responsibility only. To my mind, line managers should be heavily involved as well.

    • Hi Valeria,
      You’ve raised a good point about the extra time required in taking an individual approach to employee motivation and satisfaction. I agree with you 100% that line managers need to be heavily involved. I think the challenge is in providing support for line managers to be able to take this extra time. Can HR help with this?

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