American Workers Are the Happiest They’ve Been in a Decade
Life + Money

American Workers Are the Happiest They’ve Been in a Decade


We keep hearing about how crummy American workers have it — lost jobs, stagnant wages and persistent economic insecurity.

No doubt those trends are true and have affected millions of families…and yet a new survey by the Society for Human Resource Management finds that American workers are actually feeling pretty good. In fact, job satisfaction is at its highest level in 10 years, according to the annual report released this month.

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The study was small, as it only surveyed 600 full-time and part-time workers. Still, it found that 37 percent of employees said they are “very satisfied” with their job overall and 51 percent called themselves “somewhat satisfied.” Combined, that 88 percent is up two percentage points from last year.

The report attributes the uptick in employee satisfaction to the improved economy. “Organizations may have found themselves being able to reintroduce incentives and perks that had been reduced or eliminated as a result of the Great Recession,” it says.

Employee satisfaction 2005-2015

Another potential contributing factor is that unhappy workers now have the financial security to look for another job. Instead of sticking it out at a miserable job, employees can find work that they enjoy doing without worrying as much about taking a financial hit.

Workers themselves say a few factors are key in determining whether or not they’re satisfied with their jobs. Being treated respectfully topped the list, with two-thirds of employees saying that was very important to them compared to 63 percent who said compensation was important to their job satisfaction. Getting paid still matters, though — it climbed to second on the list from fourth last year. Benefits and job security were also top concerns.

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But even as job satisfaction is higher, that doesn’t mean employees are going to stay put. About 45 percent of employees say they’re likely or very likely to look for a new job elsewhere within the year.