Satisfaction Guaranteed?

[Cross-posted at XIMB Alumni Blog]

By the time my dad had retired from his job, he had clocked close to 40 years in service. As if the number of years weren't intimidating enough, he managed to pass these 40 odd years in a single organization. Now that is awe-inspiring. In the 7-8 years of my professional experience, I have managed to change 4 organizations. If I look at my friends, I see almost the same trend and statistics. 

I can understand that things were different 30 years earlier when people held on to their jobs till retirement (for lack of options or other reasons), but what has changed now?  Do we jump jobs because we have more options now or are there other reasons for this behavior? At this point, I can only attribute this phenomenon to job satisfaction or the lack of it. Just because we have job satisfaction issues AND there are other options, we change jobs frequently. I know that I might be generalizing but then there are exceptions to anything, right?

That brings me to the issue of employees’ job satisfaction in organizations.  According to Wikipedia, "Job satisfaction has been defined as a pleasurable emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job;[1] an affective reaction to one’s job;[2] and an attitude towards one’s job. Weiss (2002) has argued that job satisfaction is an attitude but points out that researchers should clearly distinguish the objects of cognitive evaluation which are affect (emotion), beliefs and behaviors. This definition suggests that we form attitudes towards our jobs by taking into account our feelings, our beliefs, and our behaviors."

I talked to a few friends and colleagues and jotted down their parameters for gauging their job satisfaction. Here are the factors that determine their job satisfaction. These factors have been generalized and some of the sub-factors have been force-fitted into the main categories. They might not be true for everyone but they hold good for the general public. So here I go!


Ok! So, this one figured very highly on everyone’s list. I just cannot buy in your theory if you say that money doesn’t matter. I could be wrong when it comes to all the remaining factors but certainly not this one. In this world of instant gratification, almost everyone dreams of retiring early with lots of money in their kitty. If the remuneration is good, then it affects an employee's performance and the way the job is executed. Apart from being satisfied with what the employee is getting, it should also be important for him/her to compare their compensation within and across industry/industries. Then there also sub-factors like hikes and bonuses which keep the employees happy and content. They should always feel that their efforts are being compensated monetarily with increments at regular intervals.  

Work- Life Balance

30 years ago, there was nothing called work-life balance or so I think. It’s a fairly new term and concept which now is an important factor in determining job satisfaction. The hours of work and the commute time determines the time spent by an employee in office, on the road and at home, with his/her family. Spending quality time with family helps an employee get over the fatigue induced by long hours at work.

It has been proved that employees of an organization which provides "work from home" option are more satisfied than the ones who don’t allow. This works out very well with working couples and this freedom is something that compels them to continue with that organization. I don’t know about everyone but many feel that office ergonomics play an important factor in keeping an employee satisfied. If the chairs and cubicle have good ergonomics, then it means one less thing to complain about, right?


Does your job helps in fostering growth or does it stifle you? The answer to this question is important to decode the job satisfaction puzzle. No one wants their life or career to stagnate. This stagnation is the root cause of dissatisfaction. If an employee feels that he/she is not gaining in terms of learning or skill enhancement, then it would invariably lead to dissatisfaction and mental unrest.  Other factors that are related to growth are responsibility and accountability as they boost an employee’s level of interest in the job and make them feel wanted.

Office Culture

Office culture determines whether you wake up and look forward to a day in office or drag yourself to work every day. The people you meet and the way they behave is what office culture is. Office culture of course has to do with HR policies and the inherent genetic build of an organization but it’s the people who make up the culture. Since an employee spends around eight or more hours a day in office, it is very important that office politics, co-workers and superiors are satisfactory. 

Job Security

Who doesn’t like stability and security! It is vital to every employee in any organization. The same is true for jobs. If the level of job security goes below a certain threshold, then it affects performance and confidence. 

The factors that influence job security are attrition rate, HR policies, economy and industry performance among other things. For example, if the economy is looking up then it means, there are more jobs in the market. This would obviously lead to a feeling of job security even if you are not quitting your organization.


I would term any privileges which are non-salary as benefits. These could have financial implications or psychological effect. Benefits like health insurance, perks, reimbursement and vacations play an important factor in terms of job satisfaction.  You might have worked for quite a few years in an organization and feel that given your talent and knowledge, you should be eligible for some special privileges. 

After jotting down all the above factors, it makes sense to draw up the big picture by putting together the smaller pieces. So here is what I feel influences job satisfaction.

(click on the image above to enlarge)

I just tried to list down the factors that I thought might influence job satisfaction. I might be close or I might not be so close. The Job Satisfaction Index (JSI) changes with industry verticals. The JSI in IT industry is quite different than say in the financial sector. I’ll leave that discussion for some other time.

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