10 psychological keys to job satisfaction
Do you get a pleasant satisfied feeling after a hard day at work?
If some job satisfaction surveys are to be believed then as many as a third of us are considering a change of job. Clearly many are finding it hard to get that feeling of satisfaction from work.
Job satisfaction is important not just because it boosts work performance but also because it increases our quality of life. Many people spend so much time at work that when it becomes dissatisfying, the rest of their life soon follows.
Everyone's job is different but here are 10 factors that psychologists regularly find are important in how satisfied people are with their jobs.
1. Little hassles
If you ask doctors what is the worst part of their jobs, what do you think they say? Carrying out difficult, painful procedures? Telling people they've only got months to live? No, it's something that might seem much less stressful: administration.
We tend to downplay day-to-day irritations, thinking we've got bigger fish to fry. But actually people's job satisfaction is surprisingly sensitive to daily hassles. It might not seem like much but when it happens almost every day and it's beyond our control, it hits job satisfaction hard.
This category is one of the easiest wins for boosting employee satisfaction. Managers should find out about those little daily hassles and address them — your employees will love you for it.
2. Perception of fair pay
Whatever your job, for you to be satisfied the pay should be fair. The bigger the difference between what you think you should earn and what you do earn, the less satisfied you'll be.
The important point here is it's all about perception. If you perceive that other people doing a similar job get paid about the same as you then you're more likely to be satisfied with your job than if you think they're getting more than you.
People feel more satisfied with their job if they've achieved something. In some jobs achievements are obvious, but for others they're not. As smaller cogs in larger machines it may be difficult to tell what we're contributing. That's why the next factor can be so important…
There's nothing worse than not knowing whether or not you're doing a good job. When it comes to job satisfaction, no news is bad news. Getting negative feedback can be painful but at least it tells you where improvements can be made. On the other hand positive feedback can make all the difference to how satisfied people feel.
5. Complexity and variety
People generally find jobs more satisfying if they are more complex and offer more variety. People seem to like complex (but not impossible) jobs, perhaps because it pushes them more. Too easy and people get bored.
To be satisfied people need to be challenged a little and they need some variety in the tasks they carry out. It sounds easy when put like that but many jobs offer neither complexity nor variety.
You may have certain tasks you have to do, but how you do them should be up to you. The more control people perceive in how they carry out their job, the more satisfaction they experience.
If people aren't given some control, they will attempt to retake it by cutting corners, stealing small amounts or finding other ways to undermine the system. Psychologists have found that people who work in jobs where they have little latitude — at every level — find their work very stressful and consequently unsatisfying.
7. Organisational support