New research findings on employee job satisfaction conducted by the Human Performance Institute have shown that free cafeteria food and flexible programs aren't enough. An employee's job satisfaction depends as much on the positive mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional resources the employee brings to the workplace, according to data gathered from 75,000 working adults on a three-year study of personal energy management and work-life balance.
"The people who score in the top 10 percent of job satisfaction report they are also taking care of themselves in the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical realms," says Dr. Jim Loehr, CEO of the Human Performance Institute in Orlando.
"Furthermore, people who report the highest job satisfaction are highly self-confident individuals," adds Loehr, who notes an 85% correlation between high job satisfaction and self-confidence. "They are not only satisfied with their jobs, they also feel competent in work and life. These two are mutually reinforcing."
The top 10 percent of people said they "agree" or "strongly agree" to the statement, "I am happy and satisfied in my job." They also exhibit positive energy management habits to a far greater degree than people in the bottom 10 percent of job satisfaction.
For instance, their average exercise and fitness score is 170 percent of those in the bottom 10 percent of job satisfaction. Their nighttime sleep score is 154 percent of those in the bottom 10 percent. Their overall rest and recovery, which includes daytime rest breaks and constructive diversions from work, is 149% of those with the lowest job satisfaction. Their nutrition is 126% of those in the lowest group. "These are individuals who have somehow found a way to harness their own sources of physical energy and motivation, in spite of the distracting environment in which most of us live today," Loehr says.
Even more dramatic are the differences in the two groups' management of "spiritual" energy-practices related to beliefs about the meaning of life. Those with the highest job satisfaction score about 250 percent higher on commitment, passion, self-confidence, vision, and purpose than those in the lowest 10 percent of job satisfaction.
"It is tempting, based on these numbers, to think that job satisfaction can be addressed through good candidate selection," Loehr adds. "And to some extent, it can. But employers get only one chance at good selection with each opening they fill, while they have a daily opportunity to encourage people towards practices that renew physical energy, and as well as the opportunity to encourage employees' self-confidence through training and recognition. If the tensions of the job take away energy, enthusiasm and time for self-renewal, the individual with high job satisfaction is at risk for becoming less engaged."
Human Performance Institute describes five ways employers can create a satisfying work environment:
1. Build employees' competence and self-confidence through training, feedback and recognition. "There is a very close relationship between high job satisfaction and feelings of effectiveness on the job," says Dr. Loehr. "Encouragement of genuine self-confidence is probably the number one way to achieve higher job satisfaction."
2. Communicate the value of the organization's products and services, and the role the organization plays in the marketplaces where it operates. "People with high job satisfaction also report an extraordinarily high sense of mission, vision and passion for their work," says Loehr. "They feel their work is consistent with their values. They couldn't achieve that feeling if their employers didn't enable them to get meaningful insight about the value they provide to customers."
3. Encourage and reward thoughtful risk-taking. "People with high job satisfaction also score high on the desire to try novel approaches, face challenges and perform problem-solving both individually and in groups," says Loehr. "They appear to have an appetite for mission-driven change. They also rate themselves very high on perseverance."
4. Encourage positive workplace relations. "People who are highly satisfied in their jobs report good feelings about their bosses, peers and coworkers," says Loehr. "Their feelings of opportunity are elevated, and they perceive a low hassle-factor."
5. Encourage meaningful rest breaks and light diversion. "High job satisfaction correlates strongly with the feeling of having fun at work," says Dr. Loehr. "Highly satisfied individuals also report that they find it easy to wake in the morning, and that their sleep is deep and restful." He adds: "This is consistent with our thirty years of research on world-class athletes. Top performers in every field know how to enhance performance through rest and recovery."
Image credit: Sylvie Daigeneault