Job satisfaction is a vital workplace component

Human capital is paramount for business success. While you may not actually "whistle while you work," workplace benefits beyond financial incentives can lead to a more productive workplace and ensure your operation continues without a hitch.

Job satisfaction is a vital workplace component

Every satisfied, productive and retainable employee needs both pride and hope. An employer can recognize accomplishments for a service or production-level product that offers the employee a sense of pride. Additionally, a pleasant work environment can provide a sense of hope in the workplace and in a brighter tomorrow. Let’s look at some research that provides direction for employers in this area.

The first person we will look to is author James Altucher. He asks the question: “Is your job satisfying your needs?” He defines “needs” by what he calls “the daily practice, which includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.” He indicates that salary alone from a job will not make you happy or allow true abundance to come into your life.

Former General Electric President Jack Welch and his wife Susie also provide some insight for us. In a LinkedIn blog post, they were asked: “What criteria can you use to determine if you have been with the same company too long?” In response, they gave the example: “A friend of ours, an investment manager at a highly regarded company in the Midwest, drove to work one morning, parked his car in the usual spot and then found he simply could not bring himself to get out of the car. He joked later, “I guess I stayed on the farm one day too long”. “It wasn’t one thing. It was everything.” Accordingly, he drove home and called in his resignation.

The Welch’s indicate that gone are the days when, after graduation, you took the best available job and stayed for as many years as you could possibly stand, noting that it is not unusual to hear of perfectly legitimate careers built on multiple job stints. They indicate that knowing when it is time to move on can be answered by asking yourself the following questions.

  • First, do you want to go to work every morning? Is the work interesting and meaningful?
  • Second, do you enjoy spending time with your coworkers? Hey, it is only 8 – 10 hours.
  • Third, does your company help you fulfill your personal mission? While this may seem somewhat abstract, finding a company that enables and enhances your life’s goals and values is very important.
  • Fourth, can you picture yourself at your company in a year? Is there upward mobility? What work will you be doing? What will the management structure look like, both above and below?

A third group to learn from is Lauren Weber and Rachel Feintzeig in Is it a Dream or a Drag? Companies Without HR from the Wall Street Journal. They recently reported on the current trend of companies flattening management structures by placing more accountability on employees and, in turn, removing the dependence on their human resources (HR) department to find qualified staff and an effective evaluation process. These companies believe that HR stifles innovation and bogs down businesses with inefficient policies and processes. The advent of the HR software industry has made it easier than ever to automate or outsource personnel-related functions such as payroll and benefits administration.

In 2012, The Society for Human Resource Management reported that U.S. employers had a median of 1.54 HR professionals for every 100 employees. Additionally, a survey by Assocham, The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, revealed that 70 percent of respondent say employees walk out the door because of the indifferent attitude of their boss or immediate supervisor.

Compounding these reports, according to Martha C. White of NBC News, is the fact that a staggering number of American professionals have work weeks that exceed 40 hours. She reported that a new survey by Virtual meetings software company PGiPremiere Global Services, conducted an online survey of its customers that yielded more than 600 responses. Of those, 88 percent said they work more than 40 hours a week and just over one in five said they work more than 50 hours a week. A main culprit in the lengthening of the workweek is technology that lets people work anywhere. “I think a lot of it has to do with the “always on” atmosphere that’s permeated across our culture,” said PGi executive vice president of strategy and communications Sean O’Brien. PGi found that 71 percent of survey respondents take home work on a weekly basis.

Welch stated, “You will have to endure difficult times, and even a deadly dull assignment, to survive a crisis or move up. But it makes little sense to stay and stay at a company because of inertia.” Employees that are being overworked, unappreciated and just “putting their time in” are not as productive as they could be.

The prime directive of Human Resources is to increase productivity through thoughtful hiring, proper training and constructive, ongoing evaluations. The trend to fewer HR professionals, it would seem, should be reversed.

Michigan State University Extension educators work with businesses to enhance their labor capital through retention and training. The MSU Product Center can provide business counseling to clients within the Food, Agricultural and Bio-Science industries.

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