What do employees value? Depends who you ask

Dec 05 2002 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A survey of 1,000 American workers and human resource professionals by USATODAY.com and the American Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has found significant differences between what makes employees happy and what HR professionals think makes employees happy.

Employees say that “job security” is very important to their satisfaction levels. The top three aspects that are “very important” to worker satisfaction are Job Security (65 per cent), benefits (64 per cent) and communication between employees and management (62 per cent).

But HR professionals have a rather different view of what they think workers need to be satisfied with their jobs. HR professionals ranked communication between employees and management as most important (77 per cent), followed by recognition by management (62 per cent) and relationship with immediate supervisor (61 per cent).

Considering the differences in responses, the question raised is whether HR professionals are in tune with employees. The survey indicates that HR professionals believe that employees place a significant emphasis on workplace relationships. But employees are focused more toward the tangible items like benefits and job security, doubtless due to the current economic uncertainty.

Opinions also differed by employees’ age and gender. Workers age 35 and younger rated communication and work/life balance as equally important (66 per cent), while older workers age 35 to 55 ranked job security first (71 per cent).

Women ranked flexibility to balance life and work issues (72 per cent) and communication (71 per cent) as their top concerns, while men placed benefits (62 per cent) and job security (61 per cent) as their highest priorities.

In terms of overall satisfaction with their current job, only 11 percent of employees responding said they were dissatisfied. The majority, a total of 77 percent, said they are either satisfied or very satisfied with their current job, a figure that correlates with similar research in the UK. According to research from the CIPD, three quarters of the UK workforce are satisfied with their jobs.

“Given what employees say is important to them in terms of job satisfaction, most employers appear to be making the grade,” according to SHRM Vice President of Knowledge Development, Debra Cohen.

“Remembering the turnover that many companies experienced in the recent past when the labour market was very tight for skilled workers, it is interesting to note that most employees currently report the extreme importance of job security and a high level of job satisfaction.”