Employees Mostly Happy, Labor Day Survey Finds

People spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else. This Monday, the first Monday of September, is set aside to laud the social and economic achievements of American workers—and so there’s no better time of year to hear how American employees feel about the jobs they do. 

“[Labor Day] constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor, adding that the holiday was first observed on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union.

Image courtesy: Pixabay

Image courtesy: Pixabay


Today, American unemployment is at all-time lows and likely to get lower, focusing on the attracting and retaining good workers is more important than ever before.  “In 2019, we forecast unemployment to dip close to 3.5%, a low rate not seen since the 1960s,” said Gad Levanon, chief economist for North America at The Conference Board. “As a result, we can expect employers to continue reducing educational requirements in the hiring process, leading to fewer workers feeling overqualified in their jobs, which further raises their job satisfaction.”

This is a particular issue I’m the global high-tech electronic supply chain. In the face of a continuing and widening gap in the supply chain work force, electronics OEMs, contract manufacturers, distributors and other high-tech employees need to focus on making sure that employees have the best chance of job satisfaction. “To attract and retain the most productive employees in today’s labor market, companies must make a bigger commitment to addressing the factors within their control,” said Rebecca L. Ray, Ph.D., executive vice president at The Conference Board. “Among other steps, that entails addressing the job components with which employees are least satisfied, including job training, the performance review process, and promotion policy. As workers continue to voluntarily leave their jobs at a record rate, the need to prioritize components relating to their professional development could not come at a more pressing time.”

The good news is that half of U.S. employees feel overall satisfied with their jobs and that figure has risen consistently over the past seven years, according to a recent survey from the Conference Board that polled approximately 1,500 employed individuals.

Participants were asked to weigh in on 23 components that contribute to job satisfaction.


Smart employers should focus on optimizing the components that they can control and that matter most to employees. “It is clear that for workers, the US labor market is continuing to improve, which gives employees more opportunities to land jobs that meet their needs,” said the report from The Conference Board. “To address these external factors, organizations need to continuously review their human capital practices and look for ways to better engage their workers and raise their job satisfaction.”

The study points to some clear trends about where disgruntlement lies. “However, workers tend to be least satisfied with what are considered to be economic job components, which relate to employee performance evaluation, advancement, and incentive structures,” the report said. Some areas that are ripe for attention include:

  • Work load: Regularly monitor employee workload and be responsive to employees that feel overburdened.
  • Assessment: Organizations need to do a better job of assessing employee performance. One third of employees said that they were dissatisfied with the performance review process in their organization.
  • Advancement :  Organizations need to give workers a clear path to career advancement, as well as help in getting there. The list of the bottom five components heavily skew to these considerations with employees pointing to promotion policies and, educational/job training programs as a big headache for them.
  • Recognition: Employees want recognition for good work and often feel neglected in this area. Twenty seven percent of those surveyed say that they are unhappy with their organizations bonus plan.

Happy Labor Day! Let us know in the comments section below what your organization is doing to maximize employee satisfaction—and what you think they could be doing better.

— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN Circle me on Google+ Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn page Friend me on Facebook

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