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11 Min Read

7 Top Job Satisfaction Statistics You Need to Know

Genevieve Michaels

You can usually tell the difference between an employee who’s really satisfied with their job and someone who’s just skating along. They might volunteer for extra projects, bring a box of donuts around the office more often, and generally lift up the rest of the team.

That’s because when someone is satisfied with their job, every day matches exactly what they expect. They still have to deal with unexpected problems or situations, but their overall workday, week, and year generally match what they expect. Measuring job satisfaction is measuring the gap between an employee’s expectations and the reality of their job.

Let’s break this down and cover some job satisfaction statistics that are essential knowledge in 2024.

What is job satisfaction and why does it matter?

It’s important to differentiate job satisfaction from a term that’s often used interchangeably: employee engagement.

Employee engagement describes the connection an employee has with their employer and how that keeps them motivated and committed to doing their best work. Meanwhile, job satisfaction describes the gap between an employee’s expectations and what they’re actually getting at work. 

Job satisfaction can lead to higher employee engagement, which can create confusion.

Why does job satisfaction matter?

Put simply, job satisfaction has a massive impact on both employees and organizations. Here’s how high job satisfaction can affect employees:

  • Better overall performance: It’s hard to do your best work when you’re constantly dissatisfied with your job. Employees who feel like they’re getting a fair shake are usually more motivated to get things done.
  • Greater engagement: Job satisfaction leads to better employee engagement because employees who feel they’re being rewarded justly for their work will be more committed to the organization’s goals.
  • Better mood: Dissatisfaction makes it hard to show up to work in a good mood. Or be in a good mood throughout a meeting. Or take a performance review particularly well.
  • Better work relationships: Uneven levels of job satisfaction within the same team are pretty easy to spot. You’ll get more conflicts, more complaints within the team, and projects grinding to a halt.

As for organizations, widespread job satisfaction can lead to:

  • Less turnover: Employees who are dissatisfied for long enough will leave as soon as a better option presents itself. By keeping job satisfaction high, you can keep your teams from looking for greener pastures.
  • Increased productivity: An employee who doesn’t feel satisfied at work is more likely to do the bare minimum to get by instead of going the extra mile. Satisfied employees get more done in less time and push the whole organization forward.
  • More ambassadors: Employees who are really satisfied with their job won’t stop talking about it. They’ll help your recruitment efforts by referring people in their network and bringing in customers.
  • Higher customer satisfaction: When your employees are satisfied with the work they’re doing, that trickles down all the way to the customer. No matter what you’re providing and where those employees are in the supply chain, their work will have an impact on the end product and how the customer feels about it.

Now that we’ve covered the ins and outs of job satisfaction, let’s cover some important stats.

Overall job satisfaction is at one of its lowest points in 16 years

Gallup’s yearly employee engagement survey tracks several metrics around engagement, including overall job satisfaction. One question in this survey asks how employees would describe their overall satisfaction at work.

In Gallup’s 2024 survey, only 18% of employees said they were extremely satisfied with their organization. Gallup has data for this question going as far back as 2008, and that number was only ever so low at a single other point: 2022. That highest point? January 2009, when 30% of employees were extremely satisfied.

Organizations can blame several factors for this. Runaway inflation, a tightening job market, and even geopolitical events. But one thing is for sure; you’re fighting an uphill battle when it comes to job satisfaction and the fight has rarely been more important.


High-paid employees are more likely to be satisfied with their job

It might be one of those facts that seem somewhat obvious in retrospect, but employees with higher incomes are more likely to say they’re extremely or very satisfied with their job, their benefits, and opportunities for advancement, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

But it’s not just about being paid fairly for your work, what this stat seems to suggest is that employees are more likely to be satisfied when they’re higher-placed in your org chart.

The takeaway? When you’re trying to get an accurate image of job satisfaction at your organization, make sure you get opinions from the entire organization. With too much of a focus on your c-suite or your VPs, the end result might be a little skewed.


More employees are satisfied with their relationships than their opportunities

When you break down the different parts of a person’s job, you can find out what they’re most satisfied with. If you’re dealing with a downward trend of job satisfaction at your organization, this breakdown becomes essential.

In a survey from the Pew Research Center, job satisfaction was broken down into nine categories, from relationships with coworkers to commutes and paychecks.

The single best category for job satisfaction was an employee’s relationship with their coworkers. The worst? A near-tie between how much they were being paid and their opportunities for promotion at work.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you absolutely need to give everyone a raise to make them more satisfied with their jobs, but feeling like they’re not getting paid enough is definitely going to contribute to a downward trend in job satisfaction.


Fewer than a third of employees feel like they can do what they do best

There’s nothing more satisfying than looking back on a job well done. And the best way to get that feeling over and over again? Work on tasks that match up with what you’re best at.

Unfortunately, few employees feel like they’re able to do what they do best. According to Gallup’s survey, only 30% strongly agree they can get that chance in their work, the lowest percentage since Gallup began tracking this in 2008.

This may be linked to unclear roles and responsibilities, as more and more employees find themselves taking on all sorts of work instead of exclusively dealing with the kind of task they were hired for. As more organizations become short-staffed in tough labor markets, roles can sprawl and bleed into each other, contributing to employee dissatisfaction.

One way organizations can prevent this from being a growing issue? Have a clear understanding of what your teams are best at and try to match them up with the right work.


Fewer than half of U.S. employees know what’s expected of them at work

Employee expectations are a key part of job satisfaction. So when employees don’t have a clear sense of what’s expected of them, then their expectations of what they’re supposed to do won’t match what their employer actually delivers. That may lead to some misunderstandings around compensation and promotions, as well as day-to-day work that’s vastly different from what employees expect.

Where an employee works can have an impact on this as well:

  • 50% of on-site employees have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them in their role.
  • 47% of fully remote employees can say the same.
  • Only 41% of hybrid employees know what’s expected of them.

So what can you do? Clearly delineate roles and their responsibilities from the hiring onward, and revisit them regularly to ensure they’re still accurate. If you have hybrid or remote employees, address their expectations with extra care and clarity.


Older employees are more likely to be satisfied with their job

The difference between generations is noticeable according to the Pew Research Center, with 66% of employees 65 and older saying they’re either extremely or very satisfied with their job. Compare that to 51% of employees between 30 to 49 or 44% of employees between 18 and 29.

What can we draw from this? Well, employees 65 and older might be more settled into their given career, especially when compared to those who are under 29. Perhaps they’ve reached the peak of their income-earning potential, or they’ve become semi-retired, allowing them to pursue work they enjoy rather than just chasing a higher paycheck.

Either way, this is a demographic element to pay attention to when working on job satisfaction initiatives.


It’s probably no surprise to you that Gen Z is all over TikTok. But why pay attention to this job-searching trend when you’re trying to improve job satisfaction for your current employees?

Expectations are a big part of job satisfaction, and many of your employees are getting some of these expectations from social media.

If Gen Z turns to TikTok for advice in their job search, they’re likely following creators in their field when they have a job, too. That means you may need to keep an eye on TikTok to get ahead of trends that could affect job satisfaction at your organization.


How to measure employee job satisfaction

To understand exactly how your employees feel about their job, you’ll have to do a little bit more than just casually ask around. Whether you’re leading a team of 50 or managing HR initiatives for an enterprise-sized organization, here are some of the most common methods for measuring job satisfaction:

  • Employee engagement surveys: These surveys are useful for getting a sense of how employees feel about their work across a number of areas, from how meaningful their work is to how safe they are bringing their whole selves to work. That makes these surveys a great way to gauge job satisfaction, and performance management tools like 15Five are purpose-built for this.
  • Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS): HR teams use eNPS to gauge how an employee’s satisfaction and engagement with the organization affect it as a whole. Employees who are highly satisfied with their work are known as promoters, because they’re hyping up the organization and referring potential hires. Passives are lower on the scale, content but not necessarily promoting the organization. Finally, detractors are generally dissatisfied with their work and might leave the organization or even cause others to leave.
  • One-on-One performance reviews: A performance review is the best way to get a ton of information about a single employee’s satisfaction with their job. Managers can pick specific, pinpoint questions to gauge what areas an employee is most satisfied with, from income to relationships with co-workers. They can also focus on any conflicts or issues that arise to try and turn things around if they find someone on their team is particularly dissatisfied.
  • Employee focus groups: At large organizations, widespread surveys and deep performance reviews might not be entirely possible. If you still want to get the best of both worlds in a way that’s scalable no matter how large your teams are, then a focus group might be your best bet. You’ll need to do a bit of work to build a sample that represents the broader workforce as accurately as possible, but once that’s done, you can go as deep as you need to with your questions.

Measuring job satisfaction regularly is essential for getting ahead of troublesome trends like high turnover and increased absenteeism. No matter how you do it, you just need to make it a priority. 

Build a reputation for satisfaction

Any organization that doesn’t make job satisfaction a priority will struggle with high turnover, making it difficult to build a healthy, lasting company culture. While some of the stats above may seem grim, here’s another way of looking at it; there’s nowhere to go but up. With historic lows in job satisfaction, your organization has a chance to become a beacon for high-performers and highly motivated individuals to show up, do their best work, and reap the rewards.