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A recent survey on job attitudes

facesI just read an interesting article saying that only 44 percent of Canadian workers were satisfied with their jobs. About 32 percent are somewhat satisfied and 24 percent are not very satisfied or not at all satisfied. That is a significant number of people (56 percent) who did not answer “very satisfied” about their jobs.

The random telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians conducted by Forum Research Inc. found that many Canadian workers are passionate about their professions, but much less satisfied with the actual jobs they perform or their monetary compensation.

What can we conclude from these results?

The president of the research company concludes that Canada’s workforce cannot remain competitive in a global economy in this state. The fact that workers are not satisfied could lead to a great deal of money lost in missed opportunities and high employee turnover.

Could this be a reflection of today’s economic troubles? The company plans to find out when they survey Canadians again in a year to learn about job attitudes over time. Economic factors could be significant, as the study found those working in manufacturing were the least satisfied. Given what has occurred recently in this industry, it is not difficult to understand this result.

Another interesting finding is that job satisfaction directly correlates to job level and age; that is, the higher the job level or age, the more satisfied the workers were. The majority of people (64 percent) who claimed to be “very satisfied” were executives. Only about 40 percent of the respondents less than 35 years old stated they had high job satisfaction at work.

Also, 54 percent are not satisfied with their compensation. This suggests that these employees may move to a higher paying job with a new employer once the economy improves. That said, 80 percent of the respondents stated they were proud of their company. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that major job jumping will occur in better economic times. However, a meaningful pay raise could make a significant difference for those who believe they are underpaid given their effort and work.

Lastly, one of the more troubling findings was that 32 percent of workers surveyed felt that their supervisor did not give them clear direction regarding their work, and 31 percent indicated that their supervisor never praised their work.

Research in the field of organizational behaviour suggests that mentally challenging work, equitable rewards, supportive working conditions and supportive colleagues significantly affect job satisfaction.

Furthermore, job satisfaction levels significantly affect work productivity, absenteeism and employee turnover. This is seen when examining how employees display their job dissatisfaction. For instance, employees deal with their dissatisfaction by leaving the workplace and finding a new job, voicing their opinion to try and improve the situation, passively waiting until things improve, or just waiting passively for situations to become a crisis and developing a pattern of absenteeism or reduced effort.

Why else is job satisfaction important to an employer? Workers who are satisfied stay with the employer over time, tend to be healthier and are happier in their personal life. Workers’ well-being is an important goal for employers since it creates a group of workers who have lower rates of turnover and absenteeism and higher levels of productivity.

In terms of supervisor feedback, most theories of motivation agree that workers are motivated by obtaining clear and direct information about the effectiveness of their performance. Employees experience internal rewards when they learn from their superiors that they personally performed well on a task they cared about. The more this occurs, the more workers increase their motivation, performance and satisfaction, and decrease absenteeism and turnover. This is especially true for workers with a high growth need.

Other factors that motivate workers include skill variety, task variety, task significance and autonomy. When these factors are combined, the addition of supervisor feedback is likely to lead to higher motivation, causing higher performance and satisfaction.

Perhaps raising salaries can raise job satisfaction levels. Maybe providing more interesting or challenging work is the answer. Or an employer could train supervisors to be more clear when giving instructions and providing feedback. Maybe training supervisors to refrain from micromanaging and provide employees with more autonomy is the way to go.

What do you think? How can we raise job satisfaction levels among Canadian workers?

Do you think these statistics will change once the economy rebounds? Do you think that these low rates of job satisfaction can be changed by increasing salary, mentally challenging work or supportive working conditions? Do you think that providing more frequent and clear feedback can make a difference in job satisfaction and performance?

Christina Catenacci
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Editor

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Christina Catenacci

Christina Catenacci, BA, LLB, LLM, was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002 and has since been a member of the Ontario Bar Association. Christina worked as an editor with First Reference between February 2005 and August 2015, working on publications including The Human Resources Advisor (Ontario, Western and Atlantic editions), HRinfodesk discussing topics in Labour and Employment Law. Christina has decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Western Ontario beginning in the fall of 2015. Read more
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