Job satisfaction can be understood as an employee’s perception towards his or her job as providing for a positive and fulfilling experience.
It is a subject that has been thoroughly studied in attempts to find the right formula towards designing work (and the workplace) to elicit the right amount of employee satisfaction.
Why? Because as an employer, it would make sense that you would want your employees to feel satisfied about their jobs as opposed to having a team of disgruntled staff.
Research has drawn links between job satisfaction and increased employee happiness, decreased turnover rates, feelings of organisational commitment and even improved productivity rates.
Volumes of research have been dedicated to this subject, in an attempt to find the right recipe for job satisfaction.
In culinary arts, there’s a term called mise en place which means to set up the ingredients before the actual cooking begins. So, among the ingredients for job satisfaction, we have these.
Proper and fair compensation for an honest day’s work is at the top of the list of important aspects leading towards job satisfaction (2014 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report (2014 Report)).
Many individuals require the rewards and compensation offered by a job to satisfy a basic need for stability and security in their lives.
Compensation can go beyond money, and include fair recognition from supervisors, on-the-job perks, or good benefit packages.
These incentives ensure employees feel the exchange between them and the organisation is a fair one, and prevents feelings of under-appreciation.
Repetitive work that doesn’t fully utilise one’s abilities can be draining as well as extremely boring.
According to the 2014 Report, the opportunity to really use one’s skills and abilities in their work was listed as the third most important aspect for job satisfaction.
Employees should be given responsibilities that allow them to challenge their personal and professional boundaries, as opposed to roles that are a mismatch between what they can do versus what they are expected to do.
Friends at work
One of the key questions in the Gallup Q12 Engagement Survey is – do you have a friend at work? This says a lot about the power of being able to work with people you genuinely enjoy being around.
Employers can take an extra step to encourage this by providing platforms, such as sporting activities, for employees to interact outside of their official capacities.
Employees should go to work knowing they can make friends with one another.
Relationship with the boss
Frustration in the workplace can often come from a lack of clarity in instructions and miscommunication between a superior and a subordinate.
A crucial step to improve employee satisfaction within a job is to establish a strong relationship between the two parties – creating a sense of connection that is not governed by power or status.
An open channel of communication will allow information and ideas to flow both ways.
Equal opportunity for growth
Today’s workplace is not just a venue for an employee to spend eight hours working in return for a salary.
Instead it has become the new place of learning for adults – offering opportunities for employees to sharpen their talents, experience novel situations and learn new skills.
Employers too, benefit from employees who are able to continuously improve and change their game. Employees who see their work as an avenue for personal development find more meaning in their jobs, leading them to feeling more satisfied at the end of the day.
As employers, it is also crucial to ensure that all employees are given fair opportunities to grow, with no discrimination.
One commonly cited factor leading to employee engagement and satisfaction is autonomy in the workplace – whereby an employee is allowed to navigate their work independently.
Rather than being just a cog in the machine, the opportunity to make one’s own decisions can be a strong motivator for an employee.
Giving your employees the chance to have a say – either about their work schedules, how the company treats them or in their work itself, gives them a sense of autonomy that validates their contributions to the company.
So, we have the ingredients but what is the perfect ratio for creating employee satisfaction in their jobs? To tell you the truth, there isn’t a perfect formula.
It is up to each individual to find their own formula, and take the necessary steps towards becoming satisfied in your profession.
For many people, a job can mean different things – a way to provide for their lifestyle, an extension of their identity or an outlet for their ambition.
By identifying what is highest on your priority list, you can then determine if your job currently matches this or help you find a job that can meet your personal satisfaction levels.
Even if you find that your job cannot fully satisfy you, have a conversation with your superiors about creating a more satisfactory environment.
Although some aspects that contribute to job satisfaction may be out of your hands, there are equally as many aspects that can be altered to create a more ideal work environment.
Focus your efforts on improving factors that are highest on your own personal priority list to create a job that you can be satisfied in.
Pick your favourite ingredients, and toss them into the pot accordingly!
Millie Ong would like to know what your satisfaction trigger is, and what would make up your personal perfect recipe for job satisfaction. Drop us a line or two in the comment box below or email us at email@example.com. For more Career Advice articles, click here.
Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 7 February 2015