Big news today! American’s job satisfaction falls to record low. According to an Associated Press article this morning only 45% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs. That’s the lowest level ever recorded and down from 49% in 2008.
The article said there were a variety of reasons:
o Fewer workers found their jobs interesting
o Incomes haven’t kept up with inflation
o Health care costs have eaten into take home pay.
o Product quality
o Customer satisfaction
o Costs in the form of scrap and rework.
I did some research after I read this article to see what the politicians and “experts” were saying as to the cause of this serious issue. There were few reasons cited except money, recognition, or advancement.
I think these things have always been an issue. Everyone wants more money, when they get it it’s a temporary fix. Recognition and advancement have always been in the forefront as well. The survey began in 1987 and at that time nearly 61% were happy with their jobs and I’d bet those three reasons were issues then also.
So what’s different between 1987 and 2008 that would cause a 16% drop in job satisfaction? That’s really the question to be answered. I think it ties directly to leadership. I said in the preface of my book a few months ago that I think the biggest crisis facing America is the lack of leadership at all levels.
You can take that specifically to the job site or factory and look how it ties to employee dissatisfaction. In my role as a business coach I’ve personally seen things such as:
o Employees feel helpless, many feel it doesn’t matter if they do a great job or a mediocre job, the pay / recognition is the same.
o They have no control over their destiny. The economy, cost pressures etc. all affect them directly but the lower they are in the food chain the less they can control it.
o Nobody listens to them, innovation and ideas are held back because nobody asks, or acts on them if they do get heard.
o Poor performers are often kept in place of good performers because of seniority or friendships lowering employee incentive.
o Management often gives conflicting direction with shifting priorities causing employees to be unclear of expectations.
o Managers often don’t take the time to provide meaningful feedback, especially positive feedback.
Leaders must understand that employee satisfaction ties directly to their bottom line and invest time and money in employee development. Lack of leadership weakens and organization in many ways, the most obvious being:
o Lack of innovation
o Poor teamwork
o Increased costs
o Employee turnover
One thing I’ve heard often in the past few years during the economic downturn is “there are no jobs, there is nowhere for employees to go”. That’s only partially true, there may not be a lot of options for average employees to go but there is always somewhere for top employees to go, if not immediately at some point in the future.
Poor leadership often causes an organization to be comprised of average or below average employees due to better employees having options and moving on.