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10 psychological job satisfaction factors that really matter

Collaboration & Team Management Inspiration & Motivation Productivity

Job satisfaction is a big factor in employee engagement and the level of discretionary effort team members are likely to make. No doubt, people’s work performance suffers when they don’t feel satisfied with their jobs, not to mention their quality of life.

When it comes to job satisfaction factors, the conversation usually revolves around onsite perks and wellness programs. However, less than 20% of eligible employees in the US actually participate in wellness programs.

More important than the onsite gym and other perks are the psychological job satisfaction factors.

Of course, every person is unique in what they wish to achieve from their work, but there are some job satisfaction factors that psychologists usually agree on.

Understanding the psychological factors of job satisfaction will give you the ability to offer to your team things that are truly important to them.

1. Achievement 

Sometimes, it can be hard for team members to understand what they’re contributing to the big picture. People feel more satisfied when they feel they are achieving something. Your team members need to feel that they are part of something.

Even ‘small wins’ count. Prof. Teresa Amabile, author of the book The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work has found that 28% of minor work events have a major impact on work life.

2. Feedback 

Not receiving feedback on their work can be quite discouraging for most people. Effective feedback will help your team members know where they are and how they can improve.

You also need to know what kind of feedback your team members respond to best. Research shows that novices seek and respond to positive feedback, while experts respond to negative feedback.

In the case of negative feedback, it’s not enough to simply point out what is wrong. Explain why something they did isn’t working, and how it might be corrected.

3. Control

Pointing out to your team members where you want them to go is great. Mapping out the exact route they need to get there is not.

Autonomy and control are necessary for people to feel satisfied with their work. In fact, psychologists have found that the less control people have over their jobs, the more stressful and unsatisfying they find it.

4. Small daily hassles 

Workers’ job satisfaction is quite sensitive to daily hassles such as unnecessary busy work, or senseless administrative tasks. Although they might not seem like much, day-to-day irritations can really affect job satisfaction.

The good news is, this is one of the easiest things to change, and it’s a big hit in boosting employee satisfaction. Take a look at your current processes and see if they can be simplified.

Ask your people what their daily hassles are, and address them. They will be grateful for it!

5. Organizational support 

The more organizational support people perceive, the higher job satisfaction they experience. People want to know that their workplace cares about them. This can be expressed through a multitude of messages, from how superiors treat them, to the benefits they receive and other, more subtle, messages.

Even if you can’t offer your staff all the benefits and perks you’d like, the important thing is that they perceive their organization supports them.

6. Recognition 

If you don’t recognize the accomplishments of your team, you might as well tell your staff that you don’t care about the work they do. And if you only communicate negative outcomes but don’t recognize accomplishments enough, you might discourage your team from taking risks.

You should definitely focus on the challenges your team is facing, but you should also spend some time reflecting on how much has already been achieved. If your team feels that their achievements matter, they will feel motivated to continue pursuing your company’s goals.

7. Physical work environment

Because teams will spend so much of their time in the office, the physical work environment can really make a difference in job satisfaction. But don’t think you need to plop a slide in the middle of your office.

A good desk, a little privacy, and separating the social and quiet areas will do to start with. Add in good lighting and some plants, and your office space is already better than many.

Take some inspiration from these amazing office layouts.

8. Flexibility

Offering flexibility is a great way to show your team members that you trust them. What’s more the gift of time is one of the most appreciated workplace perks.

Smart people work best when they can choose their own schedule. Flexible hours can increase engagement and productivity. But keep in mind that they may decrease collaboration.

Finding a balance will depend on what your team is looking to achieve, but you can start with 1-2 days of remote work per week.  

9. Relationship to immediate supervisor

Great team leaders know that their staff need both praise for their accomplishments and recognition for their efforts. At the same time, team members should feel that they can always approach their immediate supervisors with any questions or concerns that are affecting their performance.

Effective communication in the relationship between team members and the immediate supervisor is crucial, and can make or break job satisfaction.

10. Work-life balance 

Work-life balance has become a crucial element in workplace satisfaction. Although problems at home can impact work performance, it turns out that trouble at the office is more likely to affect personal life.

Another important factor in well-being and work engagement is your team members’ ability to detach themselves from work during off-job time. A longitudinal study showed that high job demands lead to emotional exhaustion, psychosomatic complaints and lowered work engagement. But detachment from work during off hours buffers the impact of job stressors on personal life.

Allow your team members to distance themselves from their work when they’re off. A no-after-hours-communication policy, except for in cases of extreme emergency, might work to start with.

If you’re looking to improve satisfaction at your workplace, try by starting with the easiest thing on this list to implement in your company. Whichever one you choose, even if it might not seem like much, know that it will be appreciated by your team members.

What changes will you start with to improve your team members’ job satisfaction? Join the conversation below! 

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