Compensation Is No. 1 Contributor To Employee Job Satisfaction, Survey Reveals

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By Caryn Freeman

May 12 --Employees ranked compensation/pay above job security as the most important contributor to job satisfaction for the first time since the pre-recession period of 2006 and 2007, according to a report released May 8 by the Society for Human Resource Management.

"Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Road to Economic Recovery," featuring responses from 600 U.S. employees, was conducted in July and August of 2013 and identifies factors that influence employee satisfaction and engagement in the workplace.

The survey showed that 81 percent of U.S. employees were satisfied overall with their current job, unchanged from 2012. It was the first time in eight years that employee job satisfaction has not changed from the previous year, SHRM found.

Sixty percent of employees said compensation/pay was the biggest contributor to job satisfaction, followed by job security and the opportunity to use skills and abilities (both at 59 percent) and relationships with immediate supervisors (54 percent).

"Incomes have grown slowly since the recession, and that undoubtedly is having an impact on workers' priorities and one explanation for the leap to the forefront by compensation," Evren Esen, director of SHRM's Survey Research Center, said in a May 8 press release highlighting the survey's findings.

Esen noted that all four generations of employees ranked compensation/pay as either the top or second-ranked aspect of job satisfaction. Employees at all job levels--with the exception of executives--ranked it as one of the top three contributors to overall job satisfaction.

According to the survey, more than half (56 percent) of employees reported receiving a raise in the last year, a 6 percentage point increase from 2012, researchers said. However, just 36 percent of employees said they received a bonus in the last 12 months, a 3 point decrease from the previous year.

Relationships Important to Engagement.

In terms of employee engagement, the survey found:

  • 73 percent of employees said they were satisfied with their relationships with co-workers, and 70 percent were satisfied with their relationship with their immediate supervisor;
  • 68 percent of employees thought their work was interesting, challenging and exciting and were satisfied with it, a drop from 76 percent in 2011;
  • 79 percent of employees said they were determined to accomplish their work goals and confident that they could meet them, making it the top factor measuring employee engagement; and
  • less than two-thirds (62 percent) of employees said they had passion and excitement about their work.

"While many employees emphasize compensation/pay when considering how happy they are in their jobs, a significant proportion also place importance on relationships with co-workers and supervisors," Alex Alonso, SHRM's vice president of research, said in the press release. "Fostering an environment that treats all employees equally and encourages communication among all levels of workers can be an effective way for employers to earn trust from employees and increase their satisfaction with their jobs."

By Caryn Freeman

To contact the reporter on this story: Caryn Freeman in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at

More information on the report is available at

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