People

Australians’ job satisfaction isn’t as good as it could be, but recognition makes a difference

Melinda Oliver /

The job satisfaction of Australian workers could be better, with just 32.5% saying they are “very satisfied” and 42.9% reporting they are “satisfied” with their job, according to new research.

A small amount Australians in paid employment claimed they were “dissatisfied” at 6.6%, and 2.4% reported they were “very dissatisfied”.

The figures from Roy Morgan Research on job satisfaction show that 25% of Australians in full-time employment are working more than the expected 38 hours a week, and one in five are working more than 60 hours per week.

Of the people working over 40 hours per week, 33.5% of workers are very satisfied with their jobs, while 43.9% say they are satisfied.

Almost 15% are sitting on the fence, reporting they are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.

Residents in Tasmania had the largest portion of satisfied workers, at 35.3%, while in Western Australia, the rates of very dissatisfied employees was above the national average at 2.8%.

The survey looked at almost 10,000 Australians from October 2012 to September 2013 aged over 14 years old in paid employment.

Roy Morgan Research industry communications director Norman Morris said that there are many factors to job satisfaction, including pay, job security, recognition in the workplace and healthy work-life balance.

Recognition made a difference to happiness, with 55.3% reporting they are satisfied with the recognition they get at work, and of this group 93.3% were satisfied with their job generally.

However 18.4% of workers are dissatisfied with the recognition they receive on the job, and of these, 36.7% are dissatisfied with their jobs too.

Seven Dimensions founder and psychologist Eve Ash says employee recognition is a classic way for managers to help their team have more job satisfaction, but it must be done with specific reference to tasks well done, and also it should be done with immediacy rather than months after the event.

“You need to say, ‘I like the way you handled that deadline’, or ‘I was impressed with the way you took that task to a higher level’,” she says.

Ash says showing team members that you are telling other people higher up in the business about their good work also helps to demonstrate recognition.

The Roy Morgan research found that half of Australian workers feel their job security is good. Of those, 86.9% reported being either satisfied or very satisfied at work, in contrast to 52.4% who felt their job security was poor.

Almost half, 49.6%, of people reported that their pay rate was good or very good, with this group being one of the highest to report being satisfied, or very satisfied with their jobs.

However, it was not all about the money, with 54.2% of those who reported they were poorly paid also saying they were satisfied with their job.

Ash says in recent years there has been a trend towards managers thinking that they could get away with paying staff less if other aspects to job satisfaction were fulfilled, such as recognition, opportunities for growth and giving project management opportunities.

However, Ash thinks as people spend more time working thanks to mobile devices, and struggle to keep up with higher levels of debt, pay will creep back in as a more dominant factor in employee satisfaction.

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