The idea that "a job is a job" is fairly common and often goes along with the idea that employees don't need to enjoy what they do to keep working. This thought ignores the impact that job satisfaction (or the lack thereof) can have on an employee's performance and overall retention time, however. There have been a number of studies on the causes of job satisfaction and how it affects employee productivity and morale, and most show a very strong link between increased employee job satisfaction and company prosperity.
What does this mean for business owners? While the objective of employee satisfaction studies isn't strictly to increase overall job satisfaction, by using the research that's been done on the topic a business owner could make strides toward increasing employee morale. Job satisfaction is more important than just giving business owners a way to increase productivity, of course; that's just one way that employees who are happy with their jobs can have a positive effect on the companies they work for.
The Importance of Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is a measure of how much employees like the work that they do. While this might seem obvious to most people, it's much less obvious why this is important. Some would even argue that job satisfaction is largely unimportant, since unhappy employees still come in to work to do their jobs like everyone else. However, the importance of job satisfaction lies in how it affects the way that employees approach their work and how their attitudes affect those around them.
Employees who are very satisfied with the work that they do perform their work in drastically different ways than those employees who actively dislike their jobs. Perhaps more importantly, happy employees are much more likely to work alongside other happy employees because of the effect they have on overall workplace morale. Conversely, unhappy employees or those who frequently complain about the work they do are likely to drag morale down and cause those around them to suffer the ill effects of decreased job satisfaction.
Job satisfaction is important because it affects not only the satisfied or dissatisfied employee but also those around them. Since job satisfaction can affect productivity and other aspects of an individual's work life, the number of satisfied or dissatisfied employees can have a noticeable effect on how well a business runs.
Benefits of High Job Satisfaction
There's an idea that if you do something you love, you'll never truly have to work a day in your life. This is a strong reflection on job satisfaction, since even menial tasks can be seen as a positive if you truly enjoy the process of your work routine. While even jobs that you enjoy will most likely feel like work some of the time, job satisfaction does make work more enjoyable. This isn't the only benefit of high job satisfaction, either; here are a few additional benefits that research shows come from enjoying the work that you do:
- Employees with high job satisfaction are more productive, getting more work done in the same period of time than employees who do not enjoy their jobs.
- Employees who enjoy their jobs are more loyal to the companies they work for and are less likely to look for other employment elsewhere.
- Employees who like the work that they do are more likely to talk positively about their company and its products, making them into natural brand ambassadors.
- Employees who report high job satisfaction are less likely to call in sick or otherwise miss work.
- Employees who are satisfied with their jobs are more likely to earn raises or promotions than those who aren't, due in part to them putting forth extra effort as a result of their satisfaction level.
- Companies that have a significant number of satisfied employees spend less on recruiting and training than those who don't due to a decreased employee turnover rate.
- Companies with satisfied employees see increased overall profits due to a significant portion of their workforce being more motivated and productive.
There may be other benefits to having employees with high job satisfaction as well, such as a friendlier corporate culture or increased employee innovation due to employees feeling freer to think outside of the box. Companies within certain industries may see additional benefits as well.
Detriments of Low Job Satisfaction
While there are a number of benefits of high job satisfaction rates, that's not the only reason that it's important for employees to enjoy the work that they do. Another key to the importance of job satisfaction is that there are observable negatives to having employees who actively do not enjoy the work that they do. In addition to simply having a bad attitude about their work, here are some of the detriments specifically associated with low levels of job satisfaction:
- Employees with low job satisfaction are more likely to skip work, come in late, attempt to leave early or call in sick than those who are satisfied with their work.
- Employees who do not enjoy their work are more likely to quit or actively look for other employment, creating a higher turnover rate and driving up training and recruitment costs for the company.
- Employees who are not satisfied with their jobs are more likely to do a poor job or not care what the end result of their work is like, reducing the overall quality of the company's services or products.
- Employees who don't like their jobs are more likely to gossip or talk bad about their employer or its products/services in public or online, potentially damaging its reputation.
- Employees with low levels of job satisfaction are more likely to quit without notice, making other employees and management work harder to cover their shifts because there was not time to recruit and train a replacement.
- Companies that have a significant number of employees with low job satisfaction report lower profits and overall higher costs due to increased waste, lower employee productivity and an increased likelihood of accidents or other unwanted incidents.
Employees who don't enjoy their work are also less likely to receive raises or promotions and will often use this to reinforce their feelings of dissatisfaction. This can create a gradual decrease in overall company quality if it affects a large number of employees, as large amounts of dissatisfaction will result in fewer promotions which will, in turn, fuel employee dissatisfaction with the company.
Increasing Employee Job Satisfaction
Since low job satisfaction has a negative effect on both the employee and the company, it makes sense for both managers and employees to want an increase in job satisfaction. To this end, there are a few ways that both employees and the companies they work for can work toward increasing overall employee job satisfaction across the company:
- Managers and employees alike can praise employees for a job well done, and companies can set up an employee recognition program.
- Managers can set up a schedule of pay and benefits review, making sure that all employees are evaluated for pay increases, promotions or other benefits on a regular basis.
- Managers and supervisors can reduce micromanagement, trusting employees to do their jobs if given goals instead of step-by-step instructions.
- Managers and employees can both be more flexible when it comes to scheduling, with management trying harder to accommodate employee requests and employees giving notice of their needs earlier so that management has more time to try and make it happen.
- Employees can offer help and advice to others who seem to be struggling with a task, increasing workplace friendliness and improving overall company morale.
- Employees can practice increased self-care, and management can encourage this by upgrading break rooms or offering gym memberships or similar self-care benefits.
These are just a few steps that you can take to increase employee satisfaction in the workplace, of course. Every work environment is different, so consider the specifics of your place of business to find the benefits and satisfaction plans that work best for the company and its culture. Even seeing that others are putting forth an effort to increase job satisfaction can go a long way toward making employees happier in the roles that they're in.
- Villanova University: How Important Is Job Satisfaction in Today's Workplace?
- University of Southern California: The Importance of Job Satisfaction in Today's Workforce
- 6Q: Benefits of Increased Job Satisfaction
- Mayo Clinic: Job Satisfaction - How to Make Work More Rewarding
- Society for Human Resources Management: Better Pay and Benefits Loom Large in Job Satisfaction
Jack Gerard is a freelance writer and editor with over 15 years of experience writing about topics related to business and finance. His body of work includes copy for small businesses, how-to guides for entrepreneurs and even editing and copy work for international corporations.