According to the SHRM 2011 Employee Job Satisfaction Survey Report to be released this month, employee job satisfaction in the U.S. reached its peak in 2009—possibly because employees were especially grateful for their jobs at the height of the recession—but since then has been dropping slightly each year. A much-discussed March 2011 report from MetLife found that more than one out of three surveyed employees hoped to be working elsewhere within the next 12 months.
Though any “gratitude effect”—that feeling of relief at merely having a job, any job, during the worst recession in modern memory—was understandable, a slight decline in employee job satisfaction after years of economic stagnation is probably also to be expected. Over the past four years, many employees have weathered layoffs, ever-rising expectations of productivity and the need to do more with less, along with little to no wage growth even as other living costs are rising. A lack of progress in career movement has also frustrated employees—younger employees in particular—and it may be among the reasons older workers tend to report the highest levels of job satisfaction.