Eight in 10 American workers report being satisfied with their jobs, according to an annual survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
The 81% satisfaction level was unchanged from the previous year, marking the first time in eight years that the result remained static, the survey found.
“This finding may come as no surprise, considering that economic conditions and job creation rates have experienced little fluctuation during the past few years,” SHRM said in its 2014 report, Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Road to Economic Recovery.
It notes that workers are placing different levels of importance on the factors that contribute to job satisfaction and engagement, which are expected to change further if the economy and the labor market improve during 2014, as predicted.
The level of satisfaction reported in 2013 was 4 percentage points higher than the low of 77% in 2002, a period of robust economic growth, but below the peak of 86% reported in 2009, just as the economy was starting to transition out of the Great Recession. Job satisfaction gradually fell between 2009 and 2012.
In the most recent survey, 36% of employees said they were “very satisfied” and 45% were “somewhat satisfied.”
Among the respondents, compensation/pay ranked above job security as the most important contributing factor to job satisfaction for the first time since before the recession.
Compensation had ranked as low as fifth most important just a few years ago, according to SHRM survey data. But years of frozen wages or tiny increases are “undoubtedly having an impact on workers’ priorities and could affect their plans for seeking new employment in 2014,” the report found.
Among factors affecting the level of worker engagement, the survey found that 73% of employees were satisfied with their relationships with co-workers. The ability to use skills and abilities, and relationships with supervisors each drew 70% satisfaction levels, tied for second most important.
The survey of 600 U.S. workers was conducted in summer 2013.
The report recommends that employers consider new strategies to keep workers happy and improve performance, including positive feedback and recognition awards. Fewer than 1 in 5 organizations have such recognition programs, the human resources association noted.
A previous SHRM survey found that 47% of human resources professionals considered engagement to be their company’s most significant HR challenge.
The Job Satisfaction and Engagement report also recommends nurturing an environment “that treats all employees equally, as well as one that encourages communication between all levels of workers.”