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When Will You Be Satisfied?

Fewer than half of all U.S. workers are satisfied with their jobs. This unsurprising pronouncement comes from the latest edition of an employee survey sponsored by The Conference Board. The results are not surprising because The Conference Board has conducted the annual survey for twenty years and, in every study, nearly one out of two workers expressed dissatisfaction in their situations.

What do employees dislike about their jobs? Just about everything, it seems. Workers give their companies low marks for their bonus plans, promotion policies, performance review processes, workloads, work/life balance commitments, communication channels, training opportunities, recognition programs, and career growth potentials. About the only thing employees are happy with are their commutes.

Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, hopes the survey's results will wake up companies interested in employee retention. "A certain amount of dissatisfaction with one's job is to be expected," says Franco. But, he adds, "the breadth of dissatisfaction is somewhat unsettling, since it carries over from what attracts employees to a job to what keeps them motivated and productive on the job." He warns that 20 percent of survey respondents do not see themselves in their current jobs one year from now.

But before you start redesigning compensations plans and performance review forms, notice that the survey fails to determine how employees feel about their companies' missions. Why is that important? The dictionary defines satisfaction as a feeling of gratifications that results from fulfilling a need. In their jobs, people seek out employers whose values are consistent with their own, and look for ways to satisfy their interests and needs by aligning with an organization's mission. So while workers will always complain about certain aspects of their jobs -- we call that human nature -- what will really satisfy your employees is your proven commitment to the organization's values.

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