Measure your Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is cited in many employee surveys as the #1 factor for staying in a job.  But what is job satisfaction and how do you measure it?

First, let’s be honest, there is no such thing as a perfect job where you are 100% happy and satisfied all the time.  The world is just not organized that way!  Second, let’s look at two key aspects of a job: (1) your key responsibilities or core job duties, and (2) the context or work environment in which you perform those duties.

Core Job Duties

Most job descriptions list about 10 key responsibilities that you are expected to perform regularly.  Ask yourself, what percentage of an average work day do you spend performing job duties that energize or stimulate you, as opposed to drain or bore you?  One key to job satisfaction is to spend 60% of your day or more performing job duties that energize you.  Because, let’s face it, many job duties are just grunt work, things you can do but don’t really enjoy doing—in fact, you probably roll up your sleeves, grit your teeth, and wipe the sweat off your brow to get them done.  This is the down side of your job.

Job satisfaction often depends on your ability to limit the downside of your job to 40% of your key responsibilities…which means that the remaining 60% of your job duties should engage your strengths and motivations—things you do naturally and effortlessly.  But, in my experience, most individuals end up performing dull or boring job duties 60-90% of their day, which is a recipe for stress and burnout…and helps explain why depression is the number one workplace disability today.  Why would you want to go to work and spend most of your day performing boring or dull job duties?

This 60/40 split becomes increasingly important as you grow older and have less energy available to you. However, you need to be aware of the likelihood that many times this ratio may slip to 40/60, in which case you may feel drained by brief periods of routine work.  This is nothing to be alarmed about as long as the ratio returns to 60/40 in due course; if it doesn’t, you’ll need to take action.

Work Circumstances

Besides a 60-40 split in terms of core job duties, job satisfaction is often a result of certain factors, such as good relationships with co-workers, especially your immediate supervisor.  You could have the best job duties in the world but if your compensation doesn’t allow you to pay the bills or get ahead, then job satisfaction declines.  Or, perhaps your commute is killing you.  Or, your metabolism can’t adjust to shift work.  Being in work circumstances that align with your values, priorities and preferences also contributes to job satisfaction.

For example, numerous studies point to the following factors that influence satisfaction on the job: a lot of job security; relatively high incomes or university degrees; how much say you have over what you do and the way you do it; small workplaces; the amount of time you spend commuting or working at home; dealing with people; who controls the pace of work is critical…tight deadlines and high-speed is a source of job dis-satisfaction for many people; while small freedoms—such as being able to move your desk or change the lighting—adds to job satisfaction for others.

As you can see, jobfit and career satisfaction are influenced by many factors related to what energizes you in terms of core job duties and what brings out the best in your in terms of a work environment.

Focus on Interests not Positions to Resolve Workplace Conflicts

We are social beings with an inherent, natural desire for connection and attachment to other humans.  One of the core functions of work is to provide us with a broad social connection to our world, as well as more intimate connections with our colleagues, clients, and others.  When we lose a job, we often lose key relationships that can add to a sense of isolation, even loneliness.

At work, we experience a range of relationships–positive and negative, simple and complex, routine and unusual.  These experiences can energize or drain us.  We go through periods of harmony and conflict.  Learning to manage our workplace relationships is a key skill for career survival and advancement.

We might strive for harmony, but work is often a theatre of conflict because there are competing interests at every level.  Conflicts arise between colleagues seeking to advance their careers in a hierarchy with limited opportunities; between employer priorities and employee needs; between employer policies and union rules; between company deadlines and technological failures…and so on.

Learning to resolve conflict is part of managing our workplace relationships.  In our recent free webinar 3 Secrets of Conflict Competency,* we learned about the difference between Positions and Interests, as the single most important part of preparing for any negotiation or effort at Conflict Resolution.

Clarifying your own interests is often one of the few things in your control.

You may not be able to discover what the real underlying interests of the other side are but at least you can clarify your own interests. For example, as a front-line supervisor, we might seriously object to a subordinate’s performance and characterize him or her as incompetent, unreliable, undependable…so we take the position that they must be terminated.  However, we may not have the authority to fire or layoff that individual, so our position hardens, poisoning our milieu at work, increasing tension and conflict.

We can reduce these negative effects on ourselves and others by focusing on our interests as they relate to the employee’s performance.  Our interests might include the following notions:

  • He breaks all the rules about hours of work and personal calls which undermines my leadership;
  • I am worried about losing my job because of declining sales;
  • He could be making more money for the company than he is and I can’t seem to motivate him.

These interests reveal a range of needs and values—e.g. authority, job security, leadership ability.  Understanding the needs and values represented by an individual’s interests now uncovers a range of solutions that will meet all or some of the interests of both parties.  Interests are what a person really wants!

In summary, positions are responses or actions a person will take to meet their needs.  Taking a position closes off communication and reduces the opportunity to find a mutually satisfying solution.  If you are caught in a conflict, your task is to clarify your own interests first, and then uncover those hidden interests of the other party.

Interests are needs, concerns, and values that motivate each person. By understanding and communicating the interests of both parties, you have a very good chance of resolving the conflict.


* Note: For Webinar Link.  Select ‘Click Here to Listen In’ then select ‘View presentation with audio’ to see slides with audio.  If clicking on the link doesn’t work, try copy-and-paste link into your browser.

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