The following article aims to describe the ways in which national politico-economic factors, social aspects of internal business management and individual working attitudes contribute to satisfaction in the workplace; and how this job satisfaction itself is a phenomenon which, if present, can be translated into quantifiable value for organisations.
European Union Statistics
There are numerous scientific studies which attest that the level of people’s satisfaction with their own job is a major contributing factor in individual performance, with positive repercussions for the whole organisation . This data is also confirmed by evidence from different socio-demographic contexts, case studies on businesses found in different geographical and cultural areas showing how benefits of job satisfaction on the economy of businesses is a universal constant . The tangible value for organisations can be traced back to greater job satisfaction regarding not only – as it is natural to imagine – turnover reduction and absenteeism , but also productivity , organisational behaviour  and innovation.
Moreover, effectively establishing the level of job satisfaction people feel is very difficult to measure as it depends on objective factors (quantitative qualities which can be measured statistically) and subjective factors (qualitative measures which can only be gauged through case studies) .
Job Satisfaction – Objectively
A survey on quality of life conducted by the EU Statistics Office (EUROSTAT, 2015) took objective factors – linked to the economic structure of the job market, crossing them with socio-demographic data linked to quality of life (*) – into consideration, highlighted that, overall, 19.4% of workers in Europe say they highly dissatisfied, while 55.8% claim to be moderately satisfied with the remaining 24.8% being very satisfied. The average relative data for single nations showed that the most unsatisfied EU countries are Latin and Eastern European countries, with a rate of up to 47.7% in Bulgaria and 37.7% in Greece. More positive figures were linked to northern EU countries, notably in Denmark where nearly 50% of workers stated they were very satisfied with their job .
Job Satisfaction – Subjectively
Of the subjective factors which greatly influence job satisfaction, we see emotionality, or how people react to events , work pressure, level of independence and transparency , and also engagement , relationships between colleagues and supervisors, as well as many others. These qualitative aspects, while difficult to measure, represent a large section of the influential factors for job satisfaction.
(*) examples of data linked to the job market: type of employment, paid work, working hours, type of contract and job placement, employment or self-employment, journey to work, etc. Examples of socio-demographic data: poverty, social exclusion, level of education, geographical areas, demographic area (city or country), gender, age, etc.
Work autonomy, workload, and satisfaction: a European survey
A 2014 study on EU countries, aimed at examining the impact of some job satisfaction factors – in particular the relationship between work intensity and the level of autonomy – highlighted that from 1995 to today job satisfaction linked to objective factors such as salary, working hours, and health and safety has improved or at least remained stable in the past decades, while satisfaction linked to subjective factors such as level of autonomy, stress, and work intensity has seen a decrease . In particular, a clear deterioration of psychosocial conditions in the European work environment in the past 15 years could be seen, mainly attributable to the general increase in work pressure and the lack of a suitable level of independence in managing work.
Furthermore, the research demonstrated that having more liberty in taking decisions helps people to better manage their own growing work needs, which would otherwise translate themselves as mental tension, stress, and health problems. In order to understand which categories of workers were most affected by dissatisfaction, qualitative data on working pressure and independence were crossed with socio-demographic information relating to the job market. The resulting picture highlights that categories with the highest level of dissatisfaction are those of ‘low-skilled work’ (labourers and first-level employees). These have experienced an increase in performance demand but no change in the tool provided to meet these expectations.
Among EU countries most affected by lack of job satisfaction were those in Southern Europe, where there is the biggest disparity between classes of workers. In contrast, northern countries, particularly Scandinavia where the increase in workload – larger than the European average – has transformed into staff motivation and is oriented towards ambitious objectives. This was possible thanks to the adoption of internal organisational policies aimed at reducing hierarchical differences in groups, empowering workers and granting them greater autonomy .
Foxwin actively follows Ted Talks about development models in innovative businesses.
One of these, which we recommend, is Ricardo Semler, at TEDGlobal 2014, 24/10/2014.
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