Having a satisfying career is important to most people. A fulfilling job can provide a sense of purpose and give our lives structure, offer a sense of accomplishment, social interaction, and financial stability.
So when jobs don't live up to expectations, it can cause a great deal of dissatisfaction, and that is not only bad for employees but also bad for business.
In fact, job dissatisfaction is one of the leading causes of employee turnover. In the United States alone, it is estimated that over 2 million workers leave their jobs each year because they are unhappy with their current situation.
So what are the main causes of job dissatisfaction? And more importantly, what can companies do about it? In this article, we'll try and shed some light on the issue, and offer some practical solutions.
Signs of Dissatisfaction in your Company
In order to be able to tackle the issue, you first need to be able to identify it, which is tricky. It's not like you can just ask your employees if they are happy or not, as most people won't give you an honest answer, fearing reprisal.
There are, however, certain signs that can indicate that something is not quite right in your company and that you might have a job satisfaction problem on your hands.
Some of the most common signs include:
- High staff turnover is perhaps the most obvious sign that something is wrong. If you have a high staff turnover, it's likely that your employees are not happy and are looking for a way out.
- Decreased productivity is another common sign of job dissatisfaction. If employees are not motivated or engaged in their work, they will naturally be less productive.
- Increased absenteeism is also a sign that something is wrong, although a tricky one. You should encourage your employees to take sick and paid leave, but if you notice a sudden increase in the number of days taken off, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
- Increased staff conflicts are also a common sign of job dissatisfaction. If employees are not getting along or are constantly arguing, it's a sign that the working environment is not healthy.
All of these signs should be taken seriously and investigated further. If you notice any of them in your company, it's time to take action.
The Causes of Job Dissatisfaction
There can be dozens of reasons why someone might be unhappy in their job, and not all are caused by the employer.
There are factors that are solely under the control of the company itself, such as how it is run, a poor working environment, unrealistic expectations, or a lack of career development opportunities - all these things can lead to job dissatisfaction.
Then there are external factors that can lead to job dissatisfaction. This includes things like a poor economy or having a long commute. Even though these things aren't directly within the company's control, there are usually ways to mitigate their effects
Finally, certain things are simply down to the individual and their personality. Be it that they aren't a good fit for the job, or that they have different aspirations and goals, there is not much a company can do about it.
Solutions to Job Dissatisfaction
Once you know what is causing the problem, you can start working on a solution - or if you determine that there is nothing you can do about it, you can at least manage the expectations of your employees.
Here are some general tips that might help:
Cause: Feeling Undervalued
This can happen for a variety of reasons, be it that they don't feel like they are being paid enough, or that they don't feel appreciated for the work they do.
Feeling underpaid is, by far, the most common reason for job dissatisfaction. Especially in this day and age, it's crucial that you offer a competitive salary since everybody is just a Google search away from finding out what the average salary for their position is.
But it's not always "just about the money". Sometimes, employees simply want to feel appreciated and valued for their work. If this is the case, try to find ways to show your appreciation, whether it's through public recognition, verbal praise, or bonuses and incentives.
What you can do about it:
Not being paid what you're worth is a surefire way to lead to dissatisfaction, so make sure you regularly review your employees' salaries - because remember, the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee's annual salary.
Increasing transparency around salaries is an excellent way to avoid discrepancies and ensure everyone feels like they're being paid fairly. Make sure that everyone knows what the salary ranges are for different positions, and that there is a clear system for awarding raises and bonuses.
Apart from the base salaries, it's also important to offer fair and competitive benefits packages. Be it completion bonuses, healthcare, or paid time off - it all shows that you appreciate and respect your employees and that you are invested in their well-being.
And lastly, by providing a safe space where everyone can share their accomplishments, milestones, and challenges openly you can also help employees feel valued. This could be in the form of a companywide channel, weekly all-hands meeting, or a social intranet like Lorino.
This will ensure that every employee feels heard and seen and will help create a positive and healthy work environment.
Cause: No Room for Growth
Of course, not everyone wants or needs a high-pressure job, but most people do want to feel like they're growing and developing. It's therefore important for organizations to provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills, take on new responsibilities, and progress in their careers.
If there is a lack of opportunity for advancement, employees can start to feel stuck and unfulfilled, which will make them dissatisfied with their jobs.
What you can do about it:
The first step is to ensure that there is a clear career path for each position within the company. Employees should know what they need to do in order to move up within the organization, and they should have regular check-ins with their managers to ensure that they are on track.
You should also provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn.
Companies can do that either through training programs or simply by putting systems into place that will enable and encourage the sharing of knowledge between employees.
Last but not least, it's important to give employees a sense of ownership over their work. This means delegating authority and decision-making power whenever possible. Again, not all people are looking for demanding roles, but feel the pulse of your workforce and see who seems bored and would benefit from more responsibility.
Cause: Poor Management
It's no secret that bad management can ruin a good job. Even in the healthiest of environments, all it takes is one poor manager to create a toxic work environment and cause widespread dissatisfaction.
There are many different ways that bad managers can create problems: They might be micromanaging, they might be unapproachable, or they might simply not have the necessary skills to properly manage and motivate their team.
Whatever the case may be, if an employee's immediate manager is causing them dissatisfaction, it will probably lead to them being dissatisfied with their job as a whole.
What you can do about it:
The first step is to ensure that you have a good management training program in place. This will ensure that all of your managers are equipped with the necessary skills to properly manage and motivate their teams.
You should also regularly check in with employees to see how they're doing and if they have any concerns. This can be done through one-on-one meetings, team meetings, or simply by having an open-door policy.
And lastly, it's important to set the tone from the top. Make sure that your senior leaders are setting a good example for all of your managers to follow.
Cause: Lack of Work/Life Balance
Work/Life balance is becoming increasingly important for employees, especially as more and more people are working remotely. But it's not just remote work that can lead to this issue. Even if you are working in an office, long hours and unrealistic expectations can quickly accumulate and lead to burnout.
The rise of the "Quiet Quitting" movement is a sign that people are starting to prioritize their well-being over their careers, and if your company isn't offering them a way to do so, employees will look elsewhere.
What you can do about it:
Flexible working arrangements are a great way to offer employees a better work/life balance. This could involve things like flexible hours, working from home, or compressed work weeks.
It's also important to encourage employees to take their vacation days. In the US, workers are estimated to leave around 768 million vacation days unused annually!
Make sure that employees feel like they can take time off when they need without fear of retribution. And create a culture where people are encouraged to disconnect from work when they're not at work.
But most importantly: set achievable goals and expectations. If employees feel like they're constantly being asked to do more with less, it's going to lead to dissatisfaction.
Cause: Poor Company Culture
Company culture is the personality of your organization and its values, and it can have a major impact on employee satisfaction in a variety of ways.
Cultures vary widely between different industries and organizations, and what works for some might not work for others. But there are a few key things that all employees value in good company culture: trust, respect, and transparency.
When these things are lacking, it can lead to employees feeling like they're not valued or appreciated, which is a recipe for dissatisfaction.
What you can do about it:
A healthy culture is one that is conducive to a healthy work-life balance, respectful and collaborative relationships between employees, and opportunities for professional development.
If yours is not, then you might want to rethink it. A lot of companies have been embracing the people's first culture recently with great success. This type of company puts the people first, ahead of profits, and it's something that employees really respond to.
No matter what type of culture you want to create, it's important that everyone is on board. Make sure that your leaders are setting the tone and that your employees know what the company's values are.
Investing time and resources in employee satisfaction is a smart move for any organization. Satisfied employees are more productive, engaged, and less likely to leave.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, the causes of job dissatisfaction are often similar. By addressing these issues head-on, you can create a work environment that employees will be happy to come to every day.