Reading between the Lines * What Survey Results REALLY Mean

SHRM (the US version of CIPD) released its 2009 Employee Job Satisfaction Survey earlier this summer. Keep in mind, this is a satisfaction survey (measuring, per SHRM, satisfaction with career development, relationship with management, compensation and benefits, and work environment), not an engagement survey (measuring employee commitment to the company, understanding of where the company is going and how the employee can help it get there, and willingness to give discretionary effort to make it happen). Some of SHRM’s findings:
“According to this survey, 86% of employees indicated overall satisfaction with their current position, with 41% of employees reporting they were very satisfied. What’s more, majority of employees (58%) reported that the current economic climate has not made any difference in their level of satisfaction—and this is good news for employers, especially during the economically challenging time.”
I question, is this really “stiff upper lip” syndrome at work? Another study reported in CNN Money found:
• 54% of employed Americans plan to look for a new job once the economy rebounds
• Of those aged 18-29, 71% say they are likely to look for work once the economy turns

I do agree with (and our own research supports) how important SHRM reports communication and recognition are to both managers and employees:
• 97% of managers report management recognition of employee job performance to be important or very important and 91% of employees agree
• 98% of managers report communication between employees and senior management to be important or very important and 92% of employees agree

My take is this: Many employees are “satisfied” with their jobs right now because they have one and know the market is tough, but they are not deeply engaged with their companies or their work and will look elsewhere as soon as they see a reasonable chance. How do leaders counteract this? By communicating clearly and frequently with employees and sincerely recognizing their efforts.

What do you think? Does satisfaction equally a desire to stay or are employees just grinning and bearing it right now?

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