Satisfying Careers

Survey reveals 61 percent of US workers satisfied with current job

Satisfaction.Some people can’t seem to get any. Others are overwhelmingly content. But how happy are people at their current jobs?

A new CareerBuilder survey revealed some surprising results on just how much workers enjoyed their position, whether they felt underemployed and if their current employer had ample career advancement opportunities for them. The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive from Nov. 9 to Dec. 5, 2011, of more than 7,700 full-time workers across industries and company sizes.

Let’s get to the results.

Sixty-one percent of workers reported that they were satisfied with their job overall. Workers in health care, transportation and utilities had the highest rate of job satisfaction, at 67 percent. Those least happy? Retail workers. Only half (48 percent) of workers in that industry found their job satisfactory.

But what does satisfaction really mean to workers? Stacey Hawley, principal at government relations firm The Credo Co., says that satisfaction is based on an individual’s preferences and career level. Entry-level workers have different needs than those at the executive level; therefore, their job satisfaction is based on different elements.

“Employee satisfaction is not just money and benefits,” Hawley says. “It is from overall job satisfaction, which includes career development opportunities and a positive view of both immediate management and senior leadership. All else being equal (e.g., money and benefits), if a job is challenging, career opportunities seem plausible and present — aka no one has to die to get promoted — and senior leadership is perceived positively, employees are much more likely to stay with a company.”

When it comes to career advancement, 30 percent of workers said they were satisfied with the opportunities to move up in their current workplace. However, 32 percent responded that they thought there were not enough opportunities. Retail workers once again reported that advancement opportunities were not readily available; 37 percent of those workers felt dissatisfied with their current job’s career-path options.

Workers in health-care were the most satisfied group when it came to training and learning opportunities at their current employer, with 44 percent saying they were content. This group was also one of the highest to report being satisfied with work/life balance, but information technology reported in with the highest satisfaction rate, at 56 percent. On average, 53 percent of workers said that they were satisfied with the work/life balance in their current role.

For most, once the happy dance between work and personal life starts to get out of whack, the stress levels rise and unhappiness sets in. Despite a good portion of workers reporting being happy on the job, 63 percent of workers did say that they felt stress in their current job. The least-stressed workers were those in transportation and utilities, while the most stressed were retail workers. Another reported high-stress industry? Leisure and hospitality.

One of the most interesting questions asked was, “Do you feel like you are doing the job of two people?” Here is the percentage breakdown of those who answered “yes” by industry:

    • Health care — 46 percent
    • Retail — 64 percent
    • Sales — 46 percent
    • Leisure and hospitality — 57 percent
    • IT — 35 percent
    • Manufacturing — 53 percent
    • Financial services — 47 percent
    • Professional and business services — 36 percent
    • Transportation and utilities — 40 percent
    • Government — 50 percent

An important thing to remember is to figure out what’s most important to you overall in your professional and personal life and how you can make everything come together. When it comes to satisfaction, as Hawley stated, it all comes down to you.

Originally posted on by