Despite rising levels of stress and falling standards of living, job satisfaction is on the up as staff attach more value to simply being in work than they do in less uncertain economic times.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s quarterly Employee Outlook survey undertaken among 2,000 workers, job satisfaction – which is calculated by subtracting the percentage of personnel satisfied from those that are dissatisfied – has climbed across all sectors to +42 from +35 in the last quarter.
The findings echo the situation during the recession in early spring 2009, when job satisfaction rose to +46 before dropping back again when economic and employment conditions improved.
Ben Wilmott, the CIPD’s senior public policy advisor, said: “Both then and now, there was talk of job losses and bleak economic commentary, suggesting that – when faced with an uncertain outlook – employees put more value on simply having a job than they do during more benign economic times.”
They are also less inclined to think that the grass may be greener with employers elsewhere. But such a situation is “not surprising given that two thirds of employees think it would be difficult to get a new job if they lost their current position”, he added.
Some 19% of total respondents indicated that their current employer was planning to make redundancies, with the figure rising to 50% among public sector workers, a 10% increase on the previous quarter. One in four public sector staff believe they are likely to lose their jobs, while 63% say that stress levels have grown as a result of budget cuts compared to 54% in the last quarter.
A much smaller 10% and 17% of private and third sector staff indicate that their employers are intending to make redundancies, however, although 39% report being under excessive amounts of pressure at work either every day or once or twice a week, with the figure rising to 44% in the public sector.
Public sector workers are also more likely to signal increasing conflict at work, bullying by line managers and an increase in staff taking time off for sickness as a result of the current economic situation.
Willmott said: “Past findings suggest that the rise in job satisfaction could be a temporary one – particularly for public sector workers. The survey shows some real causes for concern, with job insecurity and stress at high levels and trust in senior management at extremely low levels.”
Only one in five public sector staff said that they trusted their senior leaders, while half disagreed, leading to fears of significant drops in levels of employee engagement, which could have a damaging effect on the quality of public service delivery, he added.
To make matters worse, staff across all sectors were three times more likely to report that their standard of living had fallen over the last six months (29%) rather than that it had increased (9%).