What creates job satisfaction? 11 contributing factors

More and more people want to leave work feeling filled with purpose. But purpose may not be your cup of tea.

Your people need to leave work feeling the emotions that matter to them, not the ones that don’t.

And the best way to understand what emotions they want to feel is to understand what creates job satisfaction.

So here are 11, to kick things off to achieve the ultimate workplace satisfaction:

workplace satisfaction

What determines job satisfaction?

1. Like they’ve earned their pay cheque

They go home exhausted, covered in dirt and with a stinking headache – but they’ve worked damn hard and earned their money and feel proud of what they’re putting in and getting out.

2. Like they’re ‘on top’ of their job

They feel aware of all the moving parts of the job and how they fit together – they aren’t overwhelmed by them and have a clear sense of what they’ll be doing tomorrow, the next day and the week after.

3. Like they’re professionally developing or being challenged

For some people, being bored at work or feeling like they’re professionally stagnating is intolerable. This positive emotion is about leaving work feeling like they’ve ‘leveled up’ – better than they were yesterday in some small or big way.

4. Like they’re ready to transition to ‘home’

They leave work, the sun is still high in the sky, they’re feeling good about their life and work is being put back in its ‘box’ until tomorrow.

5. Like they’ve succeeded – and moved the dial

This is about feeling successful, like they’re good at their job and are making a difference – that achieving what they’re employed to do.

6. Like work occupies the place in their life they want it to

Whether work is central to their identity or something they do in between weekends, they leave work feeling like it’s not underrepresented or overrepresented in their life.

7. Like they’ve processed the day’s emotions

Leaving work with unresolved tensions is nasty: their body’s checked out and their mind’s still at their desk. But it feels great when the ‘whole you’ gets in the car and goes home.

8. Like they’ve bolstered or improved your workplace relationships

They leave work valuing the relationships they have there. Maybe someone had their back or helped them out. Maybe they asked someone to mentor them. Or perhaps their team is just firing on all cylinders.

9. Like they’ve made a contribution to your industry

They’re working on something that will define the automotive sector, or physics, or engineering, for years to come. Or maybe it’s nothing so grandiose, but it’s still adding to your industry, little by little.

10. Like they’ve made a contribution to their family

They’ve had a tough day, but they picture their family in their mind and feel proud of their hard graft – it’s all for them.

11. Like they’ve made a contribution to society

They work for a charity. Every day at work, in everything they do, they’re trying to build a better future for those in need. 

Job satisfaction: two practical tips to using this list wisely

There is a cost to everything – finding your balance is key

No job can provide everything. Often the more a job delivers on one dimension, the more likely it won’t on another.

Jobs that provide a powerful, intrinsic sense of purpose – those in the charity sector – pay less than in the private sector.

And jobs that deliver on pay may underdeliver on work-life balance – being able to switch off at the end of the day.

But of course this takes out the control you have over the situation. There are ways to help employees switch off, for example.

Think about what you need first, then the best place to get it

Work doesn’t need to, and in fact can’t, deliver on everything you need.

You crave purpose – that’s why you volunteer every weekend. Does work need to give you purpose too?

Maybe. But maybe not. It comes down to your individual emotional needs.

So start thinking about your own work and life. What do you need to feel to be satisfied?

Trust at work helps drive some of the emotional outcomes in this article. Here are five critically-important facts that help you develop and maintain trust at work.

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