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US employees are more satisfied than ever, new survey finds

<i>Maskot/Digital Vision/Getty Images</i><br/>Employees' job satisfaction overall is the highest it has ever been
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Maskot/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Employees' job satisfaction overall is the highest it has ever been

By Jeanne Sahadi, CNN

No job will ever be perfect.

But a new survey released by The Conference Board on Thursday found that US employees’ job satisfaction overall is the highest it has ever been since the survey began in 1987.

Two key reasons for the record satisfaction level, according to Conference Board researchers: A tighter labor market, which has meant employees can command better pay, benefits and working conditions; and greater flexibility in work arrangements.

Just over 62% of survey respondents indicated overall satisfaction with their jobs, a 2.1 percentage point increase over the prior year’s survey and a 5 percentage point jump over that recorded in 2020. The lowest level of satisfaction (42.6%) recorded in the history of the survey came in 2010 on the heels of the Great Recession.

Among the 26 metrics that respondents were asked to assess in determining their satisfaction: wages and bonuses, workloads, recognition, promotion policies, job security, people at work, quality of leadership and workplace culture; their commute; and several benefits-related metrics (e.g., vacation and sick days, family leave policies, flex time plans and pension/retirement plans)

“Apart from competitive pay, the factors that most influence employee retention center around work experience and culture. … Across the majority of 26 factors surveyed, employees with hybrid work arrangements report the greatest job satisfaction compared to fully remote or fully on-premises workers,” Board researchers said in their analysis.

Survey respondents who had recently changed jobs also were more likely to say they were satisfied.

“Overall job satisfaction is 3.6 percentage points higher among those who have found a new job since the pandemic began, compared to those who have not,” Conference Board researchers wrote.

The job switchers reported their biggest boosts in satisfaction came from their new job’s training programs, bonus plan, mental health benefits and promotion policy.

Women expressed less satisfaction than men

Just as there continues to be an overall gender pay gap at work and a shortage of women in leadership roles at many companies, the Conference Board survey revealed there is also a satisfaction gap.

“Despite year-over-year improvements, job satisfaction among women remains below that of men, with large gaps appearing in job security, promotion policy and bonus plans, as well as across compensation and benefits, including pay, sick-day policy, vacation policy and health plans,” the researchers said.

In addition to women’s dissatisfaction with those various compensation factors, they are also less satisfied with their workplace’s recognition, performance reviews, growth potential and communication channels.

The broad takeaway from the survey for all employers, the researchers concluded, is this: “After establishing and maintaining competitive pay and benefits, leaders gain the most by offering flexible, hybrid work arrangements, and by emphasizing work experience and culture factors such as interesting work, reasonable workloads, and opportunities for career growth.”

The Conference Board survey, which was conducted online, had 1,680 respondents who were nationally representative of all employed US workers.

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