Work-Life Balance Whiners Part 2

I talked about workplace whining recently and felt that it was worth coming back to the topic again.  I actually emailed FDS International directly and obtained a copy of the 28-page report What Workers Want: A Worldwide Study of Attitudes to Work and Work-Life Balance.  Just as I suspected, the headlines didn’t do justice to the data contained in the survey. 

After reading several more articles about “workplace whiners”, and growing increasingly tired of the hype and characterizations, I decided to go directly to the source. I emailed FDS International and obtained a copy of the 28-page report What Workers Want: A Worldwide Study of Attitudes to Work and Work-Life Balance.

What I found shouldn’t have surprised me: the sensational headlines didn’t do justice to the data contained in the survey.

The study attempted to answer four important questions:

  1. Which aspects of employees’ working lives are most important for overall job satisfaction?
  2. How important is satisfaction with pay?
  3. How important is the working environment?
  4. How important is work-life balance?

These are four very important questions that simply cannot be summarized in a 3-page press release or a 300 word article.

I’ll attempt to shed some light on what the data actually do reveal relative to employee satisfaction and work-life balance.

Employee Satisfaction: this is commonly defined as a company’s ability to fulfill the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of its employees.

The survey asked workers what contributes to their overall job satisfaction. Here are the findings for USA workers (the numbers given are correlations: a correlation of +1 means perfect correlation, a correlation of -1 means perfect negative correlation, and 0 means absolutely no correlation):

Opportunities to do an interesting job 0.537
Recognition for your performance 0.466
Balance between private life and work life 0.443
Prospects for advancement 0.416
Job security 0.414
Your salary/payment 0.341

As you can see by the study, one’s pay is not a good predictor of job satisfaction. A job that challenges and allows growth is much more important than salary or job security, or even the opportunity to climb the ladder.

This should come as no surprise. Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist, writes about this often. Check out her post How much money do you need to be happy? or Ten Questions With Penelope Trunk: Career Guidance for This Century on Guy Kawasaki’s blog.

You see, when we characterize the issue of satisfaction as one of personal fulfillment, we’ve redefined employee satisfaction as being our own ability to fulfill physical, emotional, and psychological needs, not that of the company that we work for.

Tomorrow: Differentiating attitudes to work-life balance.

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