What is job satisfaction and how to get it in your workplace

Are you happy in your job?

Job satisfaction is generally defined as feeling fulfilled, engaged and satisfied by your work. There’s a growing feeling that employers need to prioritise the job satisfaction of their employees in a bid to increase productivity and motivation, and decrease staff turnover.

In 2020, the Circular Board recruitment website reported on research that job satisfaction rates in the UK are among the lowest in Europe, with only 64% of employees stating that they are happy in their current role. They suggested that job satisfaction has fallen by 10% in the previous three years.

A report by the Institute of Leadership and Management found that the following factors motivated employees:

How much they enjoyed the job
How much money they were paid
How well they got on with colleagues
How well they were treated by managers, including showing interest in ideas and welfare
How much control they had over their work
Not having to work long or irregular hours
Having flexible working hours or being able to work from home if necessary
Getting rewards or bonuses for working well
Access to training or development such as qualifications

The research also suggests that workers fall into four categories of motivation types. Identifying which one you are, or which of these your employees fall into, can greatly help workplace satisfaction and motivation.

Career Climbers

“Most interested in training, development and their career prospects. They are also likely to be under 35 and hard workers.”

How to increase their job satisfaction:

Provide access to training and skills development
Offer networking opportunities
Workplace mentoring schemes
Opportunities to climb the career ladder

Sociable Workers

“Most motivated by getting on well with the people they work with, the Sociable Worker is on a below average salary, respects their manager, works hard and enjoys their job, which gives them great satisfaction. They are least likely to say they work because they need the money.”

How to increase job satisfaction:

Help build positive working relationships by giving regular feedback and coaching
Create a strong dynamic team and regular employee interaction opportunities
Focus on socialising events out of office hours


“Being able to work flexibly, from home or with varied start and finish times is important to the Flexi-worker. They’re likely to have been with their employer for a slightly above average length of time, be more qualified than the average employee and get on well with their manager.”

How to increase job satisfaction:

Prioritise developing a system where flexi-time or remote work can be achieved
Attract new employees by offering rewarding part-time jobs, contracts or freelance work

Financially Focused

“Financially focused individuals choose performance related bonuses as their top motivating factor and place the greatest emphasis on financial rewards and the importance of money. They’re also least likely to enjoy their jobs and tend not to have warm feelings for their employer or their manager.”

How to increase job satisfaction:

Use financial rewards for hard work, such as bonuses
Implement a clear pay-increase structure
Treat work as a transactional, formal arrangement

Job satisfaction is a naturally subjective matter and is linked closely with motivation. If you’re an employee, for longer-term satisfaction it is useful to carefully consider what motivates you and use this information in salary and benefits negotiations. As an employer, it appears increasingly important that you can work with your staff to identify their needs and prioritise these, in order to compete in today’s job market.