SHRM Job Satisfaction Series: Job Security Survey. Research SHRM

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1 Job Satisfaction Series: Job Security Survey SHRM

2

3 Job Satisfaction Series: Job Security Survey Evren Esen Survey Program Coordinator SHRM June 2003

4 This report is published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SHRM. All content is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as a guaranteed outcome. The Society for Human Resource Management cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions or any liability resulting from the use or misuse of any such information Society for Human Resource Management. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. This publication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the Society for Human Resource Management, 1800 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA. For more information, please contact: SHRM Department 1800 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA Phone: Fax: Web:

5 Job Satisfaction Series: Job Security Survey Contents About This Report iv About the Author iv Introduction to the Job Satisfaction Series v Introduction to the Job Security Survey vi Methodology viii Key Findings ix Survey Results Analysis by Organization Size Analysis by Industry Analysis by Employee Gender Analysis by Employee Age Conclusions Demographics Demographics of Responding HR Professionals Demographics of Responding Employees SHRM Survey Reports

6 About This Report The objective of the Job Satisfaction Series is to identify and understand factors that are important to overall employee job satisfaction from the perspectives of both employees and HR professionals. This knowledge can help HR professionals better relate to and appreciate employee needs for development of programs and policies designated to influence employee satisfaction. In September 2002, SHRM conducted the first part in this series, the Job Satisfaction Poll, to determine which aspects or factors contribute to the overall job satisfaction of employees (this report can be downloaded free of charge at The Job Satisfaction Poll was the first of a series of surveys that fall under the Job Satisfaction Series. Sixteen aspects of job satisfaction thought to influence perceptions of overall job satisfaction such as job security, career advancement opportunities, communication between employees and management, benefits, compensation/pay, and others were explored from the perspectives of both HR professionals and employees. Three of the top five aspects named by employees were also identified in the top five list for HR professionals, although the order of importance varied. Job security was identified as the aspect most important to employees in overall job satisfaction and it ranked fourth for HR professionals. It was therefore decided that the second poll for the Job Satisfaction Series would focus on job security. About the Author Evren Esen is the Survey Program Coordinator for the Society for Human Resource Management. Her responsibilities include designing, conducting and analyzing polls on HR-related topics, and assisting in larger survey projects. iv

7 Introduction to the Job Satisfaction Series Even in a relatively weak economy, the retention and recruitment of qualified and skilled employees is the foundation of any business, small or large. typically indicates that employees who are more satisfied with their jobs are more likely to stay with their current employers. Keeping a cadre of happy and motivated employees, however, may become even more elusive as the expectations of employees shift. These shifting expectations stem from demographic trends, such as more women entering the workforce, the retirement of baby boomers, caring for elderly parents, and the entrance of Generation Y into the workforce, to more general changes in society such as increased stress levels as employees attempt to juggle work and their ever-increasing nontraditional lives. As life becomes more stressful, employees become more stressed. Therefore, the factors long thought to satisfy employees may be changing and may be different depending on the gender and age of the employee. HR professionals are the organizational link to the human capital embodied by employees. They are often in the prime position of developing policies and workplace standards that are crucial to the satisfaction employees feel with their jobs. Therefore, as organizations prepare for a changing workforce it is imperative that HR professionals are aware of what employees say contributes to their motivation and satisfaction. This report compares the responses of HR professionals and employees in an effort to understand the similarities and differences between these two vantage points. In order to make meaningful comparisons, it is important to consider the employees represented in this study. HR professionals were asked to report on employees in their organizations, i.e., the entire workforce including both exempt and nonexempt workers. With this in mind, it is accurate to say that the profile of employees from the HR respondent perspective tends to be a more generalized and inclusive category. This difference may to some degree influence the results discussed in this report. Nonetheless, the results are important for understanding issues of job satisfaction in the workplace. v

8 Introduction to the Job Security Survey Job security is an inherently vital part of an employee s perception of job satisfaction. Without first feeling stable in one s job, it is difficult to imagine other factors contributing strongly to overall job satisfaction. Job security is even more relevant in today s economy where jobs are being slashed and hiring has slowed due to the weak economy. Although employees have always sought stability in their jobs, job-hopping and high turnover rates, a common phenomenon of the late 1990s, are almost nonexistent today. With jobs harder and harder to come by, employees may be more likely to seek security and stability in their present jobs. In addition, their measuring stick for job satisfaction may no longer be stock options, compensation and good corporate communication, but a consistent level of job security and the observable efforts that an organization makes to maintain it. Table A, taken from the Job Satisfaction Poll, shows how job security rated in terms of what employees and HR professionals considered very important to overall employee job satisfaction. As can be seen, 65% of employees rated job security as very important and 59% of HR professionals indicated so. This placed job security in the number one slot for employees and fourth for HR professionals. In this report we will further analyze these initial differences between employees and HR professionals in relation to job security to see if they persist. The Job Security Survey covers the following topics: Employee satisfaction with the level of job security provided by their organizations; The level of concern employees have regarding their job security over the next 12 months; Table A Top Five Very Important Aspects of Job Satisfaction Employees HR Professionals 1. Job security 65% 1. Communication between employees and management 77% 2. Benefits 64% 2. Recognition by management 62% 3. Communication between employees and management 62% 3. Relationship with immediate supervisor 61% 4. Employee flexibility to balance life and work issues 62% 4. Job security 59% 5. Compensation/pay 59% 5. Compensation/pay 54% Source: 2002 SHRM /USATODAY.com Job Satisfaction Poll vi

9 The factors that contribute to and lessen the sense of security employees have in their jobs; and Overall employee job satisfaction. Overall employee job satisfaction from the Job Satisfaction Poll and the Job Security Survey are compared for differences along with analysis comparing certain variables to relevant questions in the survey. In addition to an overall comparison of HR and employee respondents, an analysis by industry and organization size for both groups is examined to determine if responses vary in relation to these variables. Employee responses are also looked at by two additional variables gender and age. Differences based upon these characteristics are explored and provided toward the end of this report. vii

10 Methodology The survey instruments were developed by the SHRM Survey Program. An internal committee of SHRM staff with HR expertise and an external committee of volunteer leaders and experts in the HR field also provided valuable insight and recommendations for the instruments. For comparison purposes, both employees and HR professionals received similar questions in the surveys. The HR professional sample was randomly selected from SHRM s membership database, which includes approximately 170,000 members. Only members who had not recently participated (approximately the last six months) in a SHRM survey were included in the sampling frame. Members who are students, consultants, academics, located internationally and who have no address on file were excluded from the sampling frame. In February 2003, an that included a link to the SHRM Job Security online survey was sent to 2,500 randomly selected SHRM members. Of these, 2,099 s were successfully delivered to respondents, and 607 HR professionals responded, yielding a response rate of 29%. The survey was fielded for a period of two weeks, and two reminders were sent to sample members in an effort to increase response rates. A similar survey was sent to 762 randomly selected employees by the survey research organization, Knowledge Networks, whose panel recruitment methodology uses a list-assisted Random Digit Dialing technique on the sample frame which consists of the entire U.S. telephone population. A response rate of 100% was achieved. All respondents were employed, either full-time or part-time. Knowledge Networks fielded the employee portion of the survey for approximately seven days. viii

11 Key Findings The perceptions of HR professionals and employees differed in their assessment of employee satisfaction with job security, employee level of concern about job security for 2003, factors that provide and lessen the sense of employee job security, and overall employee satisfaction. As a general trend, employees responded more positively than HR professionals. Employees reported greater satisfaction with the current level of job security provided by their organizations. Employees also indicated less concern about their job security over the next 12 months than HR professionals. In terms of overall job satisfaction, again employees reported greater levels of satisfaction than HR professionals predicted. Employee respondents stated that the factors that provided them with the greatest sense of security in their jobs were their own abilities and skills, the importance of their jobs (or roles) to the organization s success, and their length of service (tenure or seniority) at the organization. In contrast, HR professionals felt that the most pertinent factors providing employees with a sense of job security were the importance of employee jobs (or roles) to the organization s success, the organization s good financial standing, and open lines of communication between employees and management. The top three factors that lessen the sense of job security felt by employees were: not being unionized (under a collective bargaining agreement), closed lines of communication between employees and management, and not being contracted employees. From the perspective of HR professionals, the following factors were thought to lessen the sense of job security felt by employees: the organization has experienced layoffs in the past 12 months, closed lines of communication between employees and management, and employees feeling that their jobs (or roles) are perceived as lacking in importance to the organization s overall success. Comparisons were made between the Job Security Survey (February 2003) and Job Satisfaction Poll (September 2002) in terms of overall employee job satisfaction. Employees reported greater overall satisfaction with their jobs in the Job Security Survey. Analysis also showed that from the perspectives of both HR professionals and employees, the more satisfied employees were with their jobs overall the more satisfied they were with the job security provided by their organizations. An analysis by organization size showed that HR professionals from small compared to large organizations perceive that employees feel more secure about their jobs and are less concerned about their job security over the next year. Additional results by organization size, industry, employee gender and age are also discussed in the report. ix

12 x

13 Survey Results For the purposes of this poll, job security was defined for respondents in the survey instructions as the sense of stability and financial security that comes from being employed. Throughout this report, conventional statistical methods were used to determine if observed differences were dependable. Therefore, in most cases only results that proved to be dependable are included, unless otherwise noted. Chart 1 shows the perceptions of both HR and employee respondents about employee satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their current level of job security. Three-quarters (75%) of employees indicated they were satisfied with their current level of job security (44% very satisfied and 31% somewhat satisfied ) compared to 66% of HR professionals (20% very satisfied and 46% somewhat satisfied ). Twenty-six percent of HR respondents indicated that employees are Chart 1 Employee Satisfaction With Current Level of Job Security Provided by Organization HR Professionals (Number of Respondents=606) Mean=2.47 SD=1.19 Employees (Number of Respondents=761) Mean=1.98 SD= % 40% 44% 46% 30% 31% 20% 20% 20% 10% 0% 8% 12% 9% 6% 4% Very Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Neither Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied nor Dissatisfied Note: Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding. Very Dissatisfied Note: SD=Standard Deviation; Mean scores are based on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 representing Very Satisfied and 5 representing Very Dissatisfied. 1

14 not satisfied ( somewhat dissatisfied and very dissatisfied ) with their current level of job security, which is twice as much as employees themselves at 13%. A scale of 1 to 5 was employed for this question with 1 representing very satisfied and 5 representing very dissatisfied. A mean score of 1.98 was obtained for employees and 2.47 for HR professionals. The difference in these means indicates that employees are more optimistic than HR professionals perceive them to be regarding their current level of job security. 1 Are employees concerned about their job security over the next 12 months? Employees appear to be less concerned overall by this prospect compared to HR professionals. Fifty-nine percent of HR respondents indicated that employees in their organizations are concerned about their job security, although about one-half (47%) indicated being somewhat concerned while 12% were very concerned. Interestingly, employees themselves were more hopeful about their job security in 2003 with only 34% overall indicating concern (10% very concerned and 24% somewhat concerned ). Half as many employees compared to HR professionals indicated being somewhat concerned (24% versus 47%, respectively) and one-half (50%) of employees indicated little or no concern (25% not too concerned and 25% not at all concerned ) about their job security for the next 12 months. It is quite clear that employee concern about job security is less than what HR professionals believe it to be. These data are depicted in Chart 2. A scale of 1 to 5 was employed for this question with 1 representing very concerned and 5 representing not at all concerned. A mean score of 2.66 Chart 2 Level of Concern Employees Have Regarding Job Security Over Next 12 Months 50% HR Professionals (Number of Respondents=605) Mean=2.66 SD=1.16 Employees (Number of Respondents=760) Mean=3.31 SD= % 40% 30% 24% 26% 25% 25% 20% 18% 10% 12% 10% 9% 6% 0% Very Concerned Somewhat Concerned Neither Concerned nor Not too Concerned Unconcerned Note: Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding. Not at all Concerned Note: SD=Standard Deviation; Mean scores are based on a scale of 1 to 5 with representing Very Concerned and 5 representing Not at all Concerned. 2

15 was obtained for HR professionals and 3.31 for employees. The difference in these means shows that employees, more than HR professionals perceive, are more optimistic that their jobs are secure over the next year. 1 Many factors may contribute to how employees feel about their overall job security. Personal attributes such as the abilities and skills employees possess and the number of years they have worked at an organization can play an important role. These factors may help employees feel more or less secure about their jobs depending on where they perceive themselves falling along the spectrum. Also important, however, are factors external to employees and the organization. Employees cannot control these factors, yet they may contribute to a sense of instability and insecurity about their jobs and the state of the company at which they are working. Charts 3 and 4 look at factors that give employees a sense of security and factors that lessen their sense of security in their jobs, respectively, from the perspective of both HR professionals and employees. As can be seen from Chart 3, the top three factors which provide employees with the greatest sense of security are: 1) their abilities and skills (58%); 2) the importance of their jobs (or roles) to the organization s overall success (41%); and 3) their length of service (tenure or seniority) (34%). According to the perceptions of HR professionals, the top three factors that give employees in their organizations security in their jobs are: 1) the importance of their jobs (or roles) to the organization s overall success (63%); 2) the organization being in good financial standing (50%); and 3) the open lines of communication between employees and management as well as the efforts they have observed by management to avoid layoffs at their organizations (both at 43%). Chart 3 What Gives Employees a Sense of Security in Current Jobs HR Professionals (Number of Respondents=607) Employees (Number of Respondents=762) Their abilities and skills The importance of their jobs (or roles) to your organization s overall success 40% 41% 58% 63% Their length of service (tenure or seniority) 34% 34% The organization is in good financial standing The organization has not experienced layoffs in the past 12 months 29% 29% 34% 50% The open lines of communication between employees and management The organization has not recently been (and does not plan to be) involved in a merger and/or acquisition The efforts they have observed by management to avoid layoffs at your organization They are unionized employees (under a collective bargaining agreement) 20% 23% 22% 33% 43% 43% 11% 11% They are contracted employees 3% 7% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 3

16 It is noteworthy that employees value certain factors more than HR professionals predicted, and that all of these factors can be categorized as personal attributes things that employees feel are directly within their control. First and foremost, it appears that employees rely upon their own skill and abilities to make them feel secure in their jobs, whereas only 40% of HR professionals indicated that this was important to employees, which is 28 percentage points less than what employees themselves indicated. One factor showed up both in the employee and HR professional top three lists the importance of the employee s job (or role) to the organization. While employees rated this second on their list, it was the number one factor stated by HR professionals. Again, the difference between the two groups is quite noticeable (63% for HR professionals and 41% for employees). Length of service (tenure or seniority) came in third for employees and sixth for HR respondents although the percentage of respondents selecting this factor was the same (34%). It appears that the main differences for employees and HR professionals in addressing issues that provide a sense of job security for employees are influenced by factors situated in close proximity to their respective place in the organization. For employees this means personal factors and for HR professionals it means organizational factors. HR professionals appear to put more weight on factors that relate to the whole of the organization that are more objective and measurable than the subjective view of individual employees. Chart 4 describes what respondents indicated as lessening the sense of job security felt by employees. It is interesting to note that again the factors selected by employees and HR professionals vary Chart 4 What Lessons the Sense of Security Employees Have in Current Jobs HR Professionals (Number of Respondents=607) Employees (Number of Respondents=762) They are not unionized employees (not under a collective bargaining agreement) Closed lines of communication between employees and management They are not contracted employees 8% 10% 14% 13% 16% 33% The organization is not in good financial standing 12% 22% The organization has experienced layoffs in the past 12 months 12% 40% Their length of service (lack of tenure or seniority) They feel that their jobs (or roles) are perceived as lacking in importance to your organization's overall success The lack of observed efforts by management to avoid layoffs at your organization 11% 11% 11% 10% 17% 28% Their abilities and skills 6% 7% The organization has recently 5% been (or plans to be) involved in a merger and/or acquisition 16% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 4

17 based on their different paradigms. This time, however, employees focused less on personal attributes and shifted to more external factors they have little or no control over. The top three factors that lessened the sense of job security felt by employees were: 1) they are not unionized employees (not under a collective bargaining agreement) (16%); 2) closed lines of communication between employees and management (14%); and 3) they are not contracted employees (13%). From these results it appears that the lack of security that employees feel leans toward not having tangible or legal recourses to keep their jobs secure (unionized or bound by a contract). For employees, the factors that lessen their sense of job security are characterized by low percentages in general and tend to fall within the same range. It may be that employees are not as concerned with factors that they have little control over and choose to focus on what they can have more influence on their abilities and skills and their role (or making themselves a role) in the organization. Employees seem to be somewhat impervious to factors that HR professionals believe have an influence on their sense of job security. HR professionals Chart 5 Overall Satisfaction of Employees With Current Job HR Professionals (Number of Respondents=605) Mean=2.13 SD=.86 Employees (Number of Respondents=761) Mean=1.90 SD= % 60% 63% 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 20% 18% 11% 10% 9% 9% 7% 0% Very Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Neither Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied nor Dissatisfied Note: Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding. 1% 3% Very Dissatisfied Note: SD=Standard Deviation; Mean scores are based on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 representing Very Satisfied and 5 representing Very Dissatisfied. 5

18 rated the top three factors that lessen employee job security in the following way: 1) the organization has experienced layoffs in the past 12 months (40%); 2) closed lines of communication between employees and management (33%); and 3) employees feel their jobs (or roles) are perceived as lacking in importance to the organization s overall success (28%). While HR professionals perceive layoffs as having a strong impact on lessening employee job security, only 12% of employees indicated so (a difference of 28%). It may be that employees are relying on their personal attributes and feel confident that although there may have been layoffs at their organization it does not necessarily impact their individual jobs. Although HR professionals and employees agree that closed lines of communications between employees and management are likely to lessen employee feelings about their job security, the difference between them (33% for HR professionals and 14% for employees) shows that the degree of importance varies considerably. In addition, HR professionals indicated more so than employees that employees perceive their jobs (or roles) as lacking in importance to the organization s overall success as a reason for lessening employee job security (28% for HR professionals and 11% for employees). It appears, however, that employees do not feel this way and perceive their roles as important to the organization. Chart 5 depicts employee job satisfaction from the perspective of employee and HR respondents. Both groups of respondents indicated employee job satisfaction and dissatisfaction with almost the same overall percentages. Eighty percent of employees and 81% of HR professionals reported that employees Chart 6 60% Overall Employee Job Satisfaction Comparison of Employee Respondents From Job Security Survey and Job Satisfaction Poll Employees in Job Security Survey--February 2003 (Number of Respondents=761) Mean=1.90 SD=1.07 Employees in Job Satisfaction Poll--September 2002 (Number of Respondents=604) Mean=2.09 SD= % 45% 47% 40% 35% 30% 30% 20% 10% 11% 12% 7% 8% 3% 3% 0% Very Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Neither Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied nor Dissatisfied Note: Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding. Very Dissatisfied Note: SD=Standard Deviation; Mean scores are based on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 representing Very Satisfied and 5 representing Very Dissatisfied. 6

19 are satisfied with their jobs while 10% of both employee and HR respondents indicated that employees are not satisfied. A difference between the two groups emerges, however, when we look at the percentages of satisfied and dissatisfied. Employees are more likely to state that they are very satisfied (45%) with their jobs compared to HR professionals who perceived only 18% of employees in their organizations as very satisfied. HR professionals, on the other hand, are more likely to believe that employees are somewhat satisfied at 63% compared to less than one-half as many employees (35%) who reported so. A scale of 1 to 5 was employed for this question with 1 representing very satisfied and 5 representing very dissatisfied. A mean score of 1.90 was obtained for employees and 2.13 for HR professionals. The difference in these means shows that Chart 7 Overall Employee Job Satisfaction Comparison of HR Respondents From Job Security Survey and Job Satisfaction Poll HR Professionals in Job Security Survey--February 2003 (Number of Respondents=605) Mean=2.13 SD=.86 HR Professionals in Job Satisfaction Poll--September 2002 (Number of Respondents=460) Mean=2.19 SD=.67 80% 70% 71% 60% 63% 50% 40% 30% 20% 18% 15% 10% 8% 9% 9% 6% 0% Very Satisfied Somewhat Satisfied Neither Satisfied Somewhat Dissatisfied nor Dissatisfied Note: Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding. 1% 0% Very Dissatisfied Note: SD=Standard Deviation; Mean scores are based on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 representing Very Satisfied and 5 representing Very Dissatisfied. 7

20 employees are more satisfied overall with their jobs than HR professionals believe. 1 Has overall employee job satisfaction changed during the five-month period when respondents were first asked this question in the Job Satisfaction Poll (September 2002) and then again in the Job Security Survey (February 2003)? Chart 6 depicts this data for employee respondents and Chart 7 for HR respondents. Employee responses regarding overall employee job satisfaction are similar for the Job Security Survey (February 2003) and Job Satisfaction Poll (September 2002). Eighty percent of Job Security Survey employees indicate being satisfied, 45% of which are very satisfied and 35% somewhat satisfied. Seventy-seven percent of Job Satisfaction Poll employees (30% indicating very satisfied and 47% somewhat satisfied ) reported satisfaction. The main difference is in the very satisfied category, where there is a 15% increase from the Job Satisfaction Poll to the Job Security Survey. These data are described in Chart 6. A mean score of 1.90 was achieved for employees in the Job Security Survey and 2.09 for employees in the Job Satisfaction Poll. The difference in these means shows that employee respondents from the Job Security Survey report being more satisfied overall with their jobs than Job Satisfaction Poll respondents answering this question five months earlier. 1 It may be that little improvement in the economy over the past five months has encouraged employees to be less critical of their current jobs thus increasing their opinions of satisfaction from somewhat satisfied to very satisfied. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues for employees in the next poll of the Job Satisfaction Series. Similar to employee responses to overall employee job satisfaction, HR respondents did not differ remarkably in their responses to the Job Security Survey (February 2003) and Job Satisfaction Poll (September 2002). Eighty-one percent of Job Security Survey HR professionals reported perceiving employees as satisfied with their current jobs, with 18% very satisfied and 63% somewhat satisfied. More than three-quarters (79%) of Job Satisfaction Poll HR professionals reported satisfaction (8% very satisfied and 71% somewhat satisfied ). The percentage of HR respondents perceiving employees as very satisfied increased 10% from the Job Satisfaction Poll to the Job Security Survey. Differences were also reported between the two polls in the percentage of HR professionals who believe employees are dissatisfied with their jobs (10% for Job Security respondents and 6% for Job Satisfaction respondents). A mean score of 2.13 was achieved for HR respondents in the Job Security Survey and 2.19 for the Job Satisfaction Poll. 2 These data are shown in Chart 7. Further analysis was conducted to determine the correlation between overall employee job satisfaction and employee satisfaction with the current level of job security provided by organizations. 3 For HR professionals, the correlation between these two variables was high. Among HR professionals who indicated that their employees were satisfied ( very satisfied and somewhat satisfied ) with their jobs overall, 75% also indicated that they were satisfied ( very satisfied and somewhat satisfied ) with the current level of job security provided by their organizations. For employee respondents the correlation between overall job satisfaction and current level of job security was also high. Among employees who indicated that they were satisfied ( very satisfied and somewhat satisfied ) with their jobs overall, 86% also indicated that they were satisfied ( very satisfied and somewhat satisfied ) with the current level of job security provided by their organizations. 8

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