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HR, Workers Split on What Fuels Job Satisfaction

June 24, 2007
Related Topics: Your HR Career, Career Development, Employee Career Development, Latest News
HR professionals rate relationships with managers higher in determining a worker’s job satisfaction than employees themselves do, according to a new Society for Human Resource Management report released Sunday, June 24 at the organization's annual conference and exposition taking place in Las Vegas.

Compensation and benefits are the factors that most heavily influence whether someone likes his or her job—and 79 percent of the respondents in SHRM’s 2007 Job Satisfaction survey are happy at work.

SHRM polled 713 of its members and 604 employees, who were randomly selected by an outside organization. The survey was released Sunday at the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition.

The top five issues rated as “very important” by employees are compensation, benefits, job security, work/life balance and communication between them and management.

HR staff, meanwhile, rated their top five as relationship with immediate supervisor, compensation/pay, management recognition of employee job performance, benefits and senior management-employee communications.

Employees ranked management recognition of their performance and their relationship with their immediate supervisor as the seventh and eighth most important influences on job satisfaction.

Placing too high a value on how employees and managers interact may be outmoded thinking.

“HR professionals’ response suggest that their perceptions of employee happiness reflect traditional thinking in the HR literature regarding employee needs for communication and recognition,” the report states. “While HR professionals are in sync with the attributes most important to employees—benefits and compensation—they consistently allow these factors to be overshadowed by issues that are not among the most relevant to employee job satisfaction.”

What is key is the package of benefits, which did not make the top five in HR’s ranking as recently as 2002. “These data illustrate that benefits, along with compensation, are of utmost importance to employees, and this trend is likely to continue,” the report states.

Even though HR was correct in perceiving that pay and benefits are important to employees, it has not done a good enough job explaining to workers the details of their remuneration at a time when many people feel that pay is not keeping up with the cost of living.

“Employers can take steps to better articulate information about the pay structure, make sure that they adjust to changes in the market and adhere to their policies in an equitable way,” the report states. “Organizations can highlight the worth of the total compensation package, including the full suite of benefits available to employees.”

Overall, HR overrated 14 dimensions of job satisfaction. There were four areas that employees valued more than HR anticipated: feeling safe in the work environment, meaningfulness of the job, the work itself and the variety of work.

Despite the growing emphasis on talent management, employees placed career development, their contribution to business goals, and training and tuition reimbursement in the bottom half of the 22 job satisfaction factors the poll measured.

Las Vegas.

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Mark Schoeff Jr.

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