Salary.com survey: 54 percent of people are “happy at work,” yet 23 percent of people look for a new job “every single day.” Wait, what?


There are employee engagement survey things almost every day — I’ve written about a ton of them over the time I’ve had this blog — and there’s a new-ish one now from Salary.com. You can click through it — it’s done as a slideshow — or you can check out some of the summarized findings at Fast Company, which recently won 2014 Magazine of the Year from some entity. (Golf clap.) Or heck, if you want, check out this infographic:


There are interesting and confusing data points all over this thing — 54 percent of people are “happy” at work, but 23 percent of people are looking for jobs every day. Odd, but we’ll do more on that in a second. Here’s one that’s fairly important: only 29 percent of people looking said a raise would tie them to their current company (in the same survey last year, that number was 36 percent). In fact — curiouser and curiouser — 50 percent of those looking said they had received an incremental pay raise in the past year. Basic idea here? Money is important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. So, what is?

The biggest issues were feeling there’s no possibility of advancement (15 percent said this) and feeling unappreciated (13 percent). A lot of that rolls up with the idea of “82 percent of managers aren’t very good” and some rolls up with the idea that “performance reviews are a horrible process that seems to stagnate employees”, but there are other factors all over. 10 percent of people wanted better work-life balance, nine percent wanted a new boss, eight percent wanted clearer goals, five percent wanted more flexible scheduling, four percent wanted better benefits, and three percent wanted more recognition (which, of course, ties back to the 13 percent in the unappreciated boat).

Bottom line: the future of work may have arrived. It’s not about the things managers tend to think it’s about — compensation and project leads — but rather, it’s about a lot more related to soft skills, such as the ability to connect with/appreciate other human beings in your space (and your team). Oh, and organic communication at all levels.

This will continue to emerge as the issue in the next 10-15 years as wages generally don’t rise that much, but core services become more expensive. If people feel they’re financially kind of screwed anyway, but need to work regardless, it’s going to become increasingly more and more about context and experience of work — especially as millennials become the primary focus of the work force. The whole canon of management and “what employees want” will likely need to radically shift between now and 2030; the idea of managers saying “Why bother with engagement? What’s in it for the business/me?” is going to have to die out for companies to remain competitive. Interesting, no?

Ted Bauer

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