Employee Satisfaction and Happiness


As the economy teeters in our region, the supply of readily available qualified resources in the labor market is growing. In the past few years, employers could receive a resume and have to act quickly to select the most qualified candidate.  Now, there are more qualified candidates for fewer jobs.  Not as obvious as the growing qualified labor pool is a shift that is quietly emerging underlying the entire labor workforce.  This shift relates to job satisfaction.

Even in this depressed market, when is it time to make the move to a new job.  I believe there are two ways to answer this question:

Think short-term (less than a year) and long term (over a year) and apply the employee satisfaction paradigm.  This paradigm is comprised of three facets: quality of life, opportunity, and compensation.  The outcome of the model indicates if the employee should make a short-term move, long-term move or stay with their existing company.

The quality of life facet is composed of company culture and personal needs.   The culture (otherwise known as corporate peer pressure) adds an impalpable feeling to the workplace. How it impacts the employee depends on how they fit in.  While someone maybe able to ignore an uncomfortable culture in the short-term, it can become onerous in the long-term.  Moreover, the employee must look at how flexible the company is when it comes to personal needs of the employee.  Is working remotely acceptable when personal issues arise?  How about the seemingly unending demands to work consistently late evenings or weekends.  While it may be acceptable in the short-term, these demands in the long term can be an issue.  Therefore, when scoring the quality of life facet into the satisfaction paradigm, the employee selects a “+” or “-“ rating for both short and long term.

The next facet of the paradigm is opportunity.  Opportunity is comprised of skill development, career pathing and employee responsibility.  Does the company actively invest in training their staff?  This is a good indicator of how a business views there employees.  If the company does not have internal training, are there opportunities to get training outside the company.  Next, the question about opportunity depends on not only the growth of the company but growth of the employee.  Does the business have an established professional path the employee can follow as they develop the necessary skills?  Moreover, is the company supportive of employees as they are ready to take on additional responsibilities.  The opportunity facet is scored when the employee chooses a “+” or “-“ rating for both the short and long term.

The final facet of the paradigm is compensation.  Is the employee compensated for what they feel is fair based on the marketplace and their peers?  Compensation is comprised of insurance benefits, vacation, and salary.  There are websites that rate salary based on position and location but it is up to the individual to determine their level of satisfaction with insurance and vacation.  The compensation facet is scored when the employee selects a “+” or “-“ rating for both the short and long term.satisfactionparadigm

The scores of satisfaction paradigm need to be tabulated in a matrix similar to a tic-tac-toe board.  The first row is short-term, the middle row is long term, and the bottom row is for the employee to look at their short-term and long-term scores and rate an overall feeling based on model.  Each column is associated with one of the three facets of the paradigm.  While some negative scores may be acceptable short-term, negatives in the long-term are not and should be a good indication that planning must commence for a new position.

With the weakening economy, employers have to make many important decisions.  However one decision that may not have been apparent is that retention is taking on greater importance.  Businesses should begin to think about making themselves a place for employee satisfaction or they risk losing their most valuable resources: trained & qualified employees.

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