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November 2019
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Are You Satisfied?
TD Magazine

Are You Satisfied?

Study reveals what U.S. employees are satisfied with at work.

As the U.S. labor market continues to grow, new research from the Conference Board has found that workers' job satisfaction is at its highest point in the past two decades. This research, which surveyed 2,000 U.S. workers, revealed that job satisfaction has climbed to 54 percent, compared with 51 percent in 2018. This makes 2019 the eighth consecutive year in which Americans' job satisfaction has increased, from a low of 43 percent in 2010.

The research also uncovered which factors workers are most and least satisfied with. They are most satisfied by their commute to work, the people they work with, their interest in the work itself, and the physical workplace environment. Fifty-nine percent of workers are satisfied with their level of job security, reflecting the low levels of unemployment that have increased employees' relative position of power in the current job market.

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In contrast, the biggest areas of employment dissatisfaction were related to jobs' economic prospects. Thirty-one percent of workers are satisfied with their job's promotion policy, and only 29 percent are satisfied with their company's bonus system. Of note for talent development professionals is that only 36 percent of employees are satisfied with their organizations' educational and job training programs.

The survey also examined the employment factors that have the biggest effect on employee satisfaction. Unfortunately, some of the ones that employees are most satisfied with have the least impact on overall employee satisfaction. For example, 60 percent of employees are satisfied with their commute to work, but employees' commutes play a relatively small role in overall job satisfaction.

The factor that is most correlated with job satisfaction is potential for future growth, which may help point a path forward for talent development professionals' work. Building the potential for career growth more closely into educational and job training programs may help increase employees' satisfaction with these programs and make talent development more relevant and effective.

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About the Author

Eliza Blanchard, APTD, is ATD's Learning & Development content manager. Contact her at eblanchard@td.org.

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