How satisfied are you with your work and how does it impact other areas of your life? Job satisfaction has a substantial influence on many aspects of our lives. All of us, employers and employees, should strive to make our work place experience a positive one since it is such a large part of our adult life.
A new study by Taub Center researcher Haim Bleikh ׂׂׂ(in Hebrew) looks at job satisfaction from 2002 until 2021 among workers aged 25–64 — men and women, salaried employees and self-employed, public and private sector workers, those with higher education and those without. The study found that, as a rule, Israelis have high rates of job satisfaction, and this has steadily risen over the years. Israelis are happier with their salaries than in years past, and feelings of job security have strengthened over time. During the COVID crisis there was a period during which job insecurity was stronger, but in 2021, those feelings returned to their pre-crisis levels. An interesting finding from the study is that workplace relations are the single most important factor in job satisfaction among employed workers, while wages places only second in importance.
Between 2002 and 2019, the level of satisfaction with work rose among the general population in Israel from 83% to 89%, with the sharpest increase in 2011. Data from 2020 — a time characterized by a serious workplace crisis due to the COVID pandemic — points to a rise in job satisfaction relative to 2019. Reasons for this are varied. Among workers who did not lose their jobs, this rise might well reflect their satisfaction with maintaining a relatively stable place of work. Other workers were satisfied with their return to work following extended periods at home, and still others, with their receiving unemployment benefits.
In first and second place — workplace relations and wages
The Taub Center study focused on four major variables of work: wages, workplace relations, job security, and work-life balance. In contrast to what is commonly thought, the most important factor in determining overall job satisfaction is workplace relations and not wages. Workplace relations includes such factors as interactions with colleagues and superiors, social and professional support, as well as conflicts. This finding regarding workplace relations underscored the dilemma of many employers and places of employment in finding the balance between work and home, and between work in the office, which allows for face-to-face meetings and the development of workplace personal and professional relations, versus remote work. In contrast, the salary factor, which is satisfaction with the level of wages and relative status (relative to other workers in similar positions), was found to be second in terms of importance. Its contribution to overall job satisfaction was higher among men than among women (21% versus 11%, respectively), among workers in the private sector relative to those in the public sector (24% versus 8%), and among those with an academic degree relative to those with no higher degree (19% versus 12%).
Job insecurity and work-life balance
Job insecurity includes the fear of losing one’s place of employment, a fear of losing one’s status at work, and insecurity regarding one’s ability to find alternate employment at the same income level. Long-term job insecurity can have negative effects on health, including stress and emotional pressure, anxiety, and depression. These symptoms can further influence one’s job performance and bring a decline in job satisfaction.
Until 2019, there was a gradual decline in worker’s fear of losing their place of employment, although the COVID crisis changed that trend. In 2020, the share of workers who reported that they were fearful was 12%, versus only 6% in the year prior to the crisis. In 2021, feelings of job security improved among workers, and, among salaried employees, there was a return to pre-crisis levels, while among the self-employed, levels were still higher than before the crisis.
Work-life balance is an approach that supports a worker’s need to find a balance between work and career and personal life — family, social life, free time, and leisure activities. The rise in the employment of women in the past decades and the rise in the involvement of men in child care at home as well as in some areass of home management, has strengthened the conflict between work and family. The possibility of working from home can help in dealing with this conflict and ultimately contribute to greater overall satisfaction with work.
Job satisfaction is influenced by a variety of factors — some of greater importance and some of lesser importance. Remote work, a practice that is expanding in the past few years, especially since the COVID crisis, carries with it many advantages including the possibility of a more satisfactory work-life balance. Nevertheless, due to the importance of workplace relations in job satisfaction, as found in this study, it seems that employers need to carefully weigh policies regarding work from home, since workers job satisfaction has a wide-ranging impact on the organization, first and foremost in terms of worker productivity and loyalty towards the workplace.