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Study Shows One Fifth of North American Workers Satisfied With Job

According to a survey conducted by Right Management, just 21 percent of employees in North America say their work is rewarding. This data comes from a study conducted in December and January that asked 438 North

American workers to rate their current work situations based on three responses. The options given were: 

  • My job is rewarding and gratifying
  • I want to enjoy my life, so I work 
  • My job is unrewarding and saps my energy

 While more than a fifth of workers seemed satisfied with their current work situations, nearly half (49 percent) claimed their jobs were unrewarding. The remaining 30 percent of respondents fell in the middle ground, responding that working allowed them to enjoy their lives.

 Michael Haid, senior vice president for Right Management, cites the economy for the drop in employee morale: “Employees are clearly in a grumpy mood, a trend we’ve tracked for more than a year. In better times we probably would have found just a minority complain that their energy is being sapped and so forth, but now it is almost a majority of employed North Americans who seem to be unhappy.”

 A 2009 study  released by SHRM shows 41 percent of employees were very satisfied with their work situation at the time. This statistic indicates a 20 percent difference from 2012 employee satisfaction rate.

 Employee morale has plummeted in the past three years, according to the research cited, and some companies are taking note. Haid stated, “Some efforts may be simple or obvious, such as acknowledging that times are difficult. Sometimes it’s just necessary to be seen trying to make a difference. And for larger organizations the engagement strategy needs to be more sophisticated, but genuine as well.” While research indicates a negative trend in employee attitudes, companies like Right Management are making strides to boost overall morale.

 Front-line managers should take note: the findings of this recent survey by Right Management are startling, to say the least. Although it is safe to say that much of this shift in employee morale over the last three years is largely influenced by the economy, front-line managers should be on notice. 

 It is now more important than ever for business leaders to take a proactive position with their employee engagement strategies.  To reverse this trend, managers must actively focus on three opportunities to increase employee engagement: 

  1. Make the work feel valuable: Focus on the things that are within your team’s control and help your team understand why that is important.
  2. Identify shared goals: Get your team working collaboratively toward a shared, measurable outcome. Help team members feel part of something bigger – focus on the strength of the team rather than individual uncertainty.
  3. Focus on the core values: In times of uncertainty, people search for consistency. Your core values are the consistent, shared beliefs that empower employees with confidence and provide clarity for action.

 As a front-line manager, leverage existing employee recognition programs to positively reinforce the behaviors and activities that support all three of the above goals. Although you may not be able to single-handedly change the economy, employee engagement is absolutely within your control.

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