The 5 Not-So-Obvious Drivers of Employee Job Satisfaction

Surprising Factors that Influence Employee Job Satisfaction

Almost every year, I read headlines and countless research proclaiming the latest survey on employee job satisfaction. And every year, I am disappointed.


It shows the same thing.

Employees are not satisfied with their jobs, primarily because of their boss. That’s not groundbreaking news at all.

Isn’t there a better survey or study? Couldn’t the researchers ask other questions?

In the Answers American Employee Study, they found that general employee satisfaction is at 65, when rated on a zero to 100 scale. That’s troubling, because it means majority of employees are neither happy nor unhappy about their work.

If you ask me, a 50/50 satisfaction rating—or something thereabouts—is worse because it might mean employees aren’t engaged enough at work to decide what they really feel.

But enough about that, here are other factors that affect employee job satisfaction, besides salary and horrible bosses.

  1. Small Hassles That Build Up Over Time

If you ask sales people what’s the worst part about their jobs, what do you think it is? Selling? Calling up old leads? No, in many cases, it’s something less obvious but painful just the same: logging their sales and claiming commission.

It’s the same with other jobs. Small, day to day irritations go unnoticed. But it builds up. This month your pay was late; the other week accounting gave you a hard time with your reimbursements, then your PC crashes. Small hassles don’t feel like much individually, but it can hit an employee hard over time, especially if it’s for things beyond their control.

  1. Being in the Dark

Leaders, listen up. Employees want to be kept in the loop, even for things that may not really involve them on an individual level. They’re interested in the company’s long term goals and they want to know how the company is doing financially.

Of course, they also want to know where the company is headed and what decisions are being made that may or may not affect their roles.

  1. Perception of Salary Fairness

They say a bigger salary doesn’t guarantee job satisfaction. And that’s true. Partly.

Employee job satisfaction with regard to salary hinges on what people think they should be paid. The bigger the gap between what they earn, and what they think they should be earning, the less satisfied they’ll be.

So the question now is how do employees gauge this? An employee might have several points of comparison, such as:

  • A colleague working in the same capacity
  • Salary comparison websites like Glassdoor
  • Years of service in the company
  • The employee’s contributions to the company’s bottom line
  1. Remote Work Options and Telecommuting

In a recent Gallup survey, they found that remote employees are 32% engaged, while office based employees are only 28% engaged at work. Consider this next time you prohibit employees from working at home.

  1. Control

The more employees feel in-control of their work, the more satisfied they are. Micromanagers beware. Exercise trust in your employee’s ability to do their job in their own terms.

Besides, if employees aren’t given enough leniency or control over their work, they tend to rebel by cutting corners or by challenging authority in another way.

Look at your team. Have you noticed other factors that affect employee job satisfaction in your business?

© 2015 Incedo Group, LLC

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