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What Makes a Happy Worker? 5 Key Contributors to Employee Satisfaction

Wed, 02/12/2014 - 5:53am | by Jeska


What do you want from your new job? A corner office? Flexitime? A short commute? Job searchers often think certain factors are the most important when looking at potential positions. In addition to obvious things such as money, overall job satisfaction can’t be overlooked. However, it’s hard to define what really makes a job satisfying. In this article, we will examine five contributors that are integral to job satisfaction and should be considered by job searchers when applying for jobs.


Control is the number one reason why self-employed people often report higher job satisfaction. They are their own bosses, and they have control over what they do and when. But that’s not to say that people who work for a company will always feel less satisfied than solopreneurs. Attaining a feeling of control may be as simple as knowing you have a say in the next office meeting, or that your voice will be heard if you object to a process or project. Offices that have strict rules about employees not being able to move the furniture or personalize their workspaces, risk a team of employees who feel that they are not in control. While the debate is still going on as to whether flexitime in the work place is appropriate for reaching company goals, the control it gives workers over their time management pays off in increased satisfaction, according to most reports. Knowing that your work life and your home life can be balanced, and with help from your employer, is a beautiful thing.


Your feedback from your employer and your recognition for having done a good job are crucial to most people’s satisfaction at work. Employers that don’t provide workers with feedback usually rank low among employees for employee happiness. Part of this issue is having clear, well-defined goals to work toward, as the completion of a goal is a marker of success in itself and a source of satisfaction to most workers. Workers also feel more satisfied when they have management that they can talk to. Open-door policies, where direct supervisors are available at any time, and buddy systems teaming new employees with old hands, are all components of a workplace with high employee satisfaction.


Variety is the spice of life, but some say it’s the key ingredient to satisfaction. Workers who have slightly challenging jobs — not so difficult that they feel overwhelmed, however — report higher levels of on-the-job satisfaction than do people who feel bored. Complex tasks also help us keep our skill levels sharp, which in theory makes us better workers as well as more satisfied ones. Part of this complexity component is the need for ongoing job training. This is why continuing education courses add a lot to the overall satisfaction of a working individual.

Defining Your Own Success

This is the wild card in the poker hand that is employee satisfaction. Each person will have his or her own rubric for judging personal success and happiness in the workplace. Using your education or training might be one definition of success. Another might be the kind of work environment you have—certain people would feel dissatisfied at a job where they were asked to work in a cubicle while they would feel satisfied at the same job in an office with different employee workspaces. A workplace that gives employees measurable, clearly defined goals and allows encourages them to engender changes in the company will often meet this criterion as well.


Employees who have forged relationships at work with their colleagues are more apt to be satisfied overall with work than employees who are in more rigid work communities. Team building may take away from actual productivity time at work, but adds a lot to employee satisfaction — which then increases productivity.


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