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Study: Job Satisfaction Factors Change Over Decades

Oct. 20, 2006 (SmartPros) Factors that make people satisfied with their jobs change from decade to decade, a study has found. Conducted by a consortium of corporations that includes PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte & Touche, the survey uncovered significant information for corporations to consider in regards to the recruitment and retention of key talent.

The "New Career Paradigm" study was commissioned by the American Business Collaboration and conducted by Harris Interactive with nationally representative samples of the U.S. workforce including nearly 2,800 salaried and hourly paid men and women from large and mid-sized corporations. The study found that after salary, work/life balance was the most important job factor to salaried men in joining their present company, whereas learning and growing was the most important factor for salaried women. For both hourly paid men and women, the most important job factor to joining their present company after salary was benefits.

Examination of the survey data by age uncovered differences between men and women. For example, after salary, the key factor to job satisfaction for people less than 30 years of age was:

  * Advancement for salaried men
  * Meaningful work for salaried women
  * Job security for hourly paid men
  * Benefits for hourly paid women

In their 30s, the key factors changed for salaried men and women, but stayed the same for hourly paid men and women. After salary, the key factor to job satisfaction for people in their 30s was:

  * Flexible work options for salaried men
  * Work/Life balance for salaried women
  * Job security for hourly paid men
  * Benefits for hourly paid women

In their 40s, the key factors changed once again for all categories except for hourly paid women. After salary, the key factor to job satisfaction for people in their 40s was:

  * Job security for salaried men
  * Opportunity to learn and grow for salaried women
  * Benefits for both hourly paid men and women

"This study is the first time we're able to see very detailed information about men and women at different stages, and the reasons why they would consider leaving a company," said Betty Purkey, manager of Work/Life Strategies for Texas Instruments, an ABC member company. "Being able to make smart, strategic changes in response to these findings is critical to retain talent and becomes a win-win for both the company and employee."

Why are employees leaving jobs? According to the survey, 49 percent of men and women state that salary is the most important factor in being satisfied with their work, and 25 percent of those employees are seriously thinking about leaving their current job for more money.

Following salary, 20 percent of workers said that job security is the most important factor, and 20 percent of them would seriously think about leaving their company for better job security. And, although only nine percent of those surveyed state that advancement opportunity is most important to them, a significant 41 percent of that group would seriously consider leaving for enhanced advancement opportunities.

"Grouping men and women together by category, such as baby boomers or Gen-Xers and salaried workers with hourly workers, no longer applies when you're trying to understand how to successfully attract and retain talent," said Debbie Phillips, director of the ABC. "This new study demonstrates what is important to men and women at different stages in their career, which can help companies more effectively cater to employees' needs and retain them."

According to the study, the lack of both career development and advancement opportunities dissatisfies employees the most, followed by their salary and inability to fully utilize their abilities.

2006 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

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