The Conference Board ReportsMany Are Simply 'Showing Up For A Paycheck'

April 11, 2005
Americans are growing increasingly unhappy with their jobs, The Conference Board reports. The decline in job satisfaction is widespread among workers of all ages and across all income brackets.  Half of all Americans say they are satisfied with their ...

Americans are growing increasingly unhappy with their jobs, The Conference Board reports. The decline in job satisfaction is widespread among workers of all ages and across all income brackets.

Half of all Americans say they are satisfied with their jobs, down from nearly 60% in 1995. But among the 50% who say they are content, only 14% say they are "very satisfied."

This report, which is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households, conducted for The Conference Board by TNS, a leading market information company (LSE: TNN), also includes information collected independently by TNS. This information reveals that approximately one-quarter of the American workforce is simply "showing up to collect a paycheck."

"Rapid technological changes, rising productivity demands and changing employee expectations have all contributed to the decline in job satisfaction," says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "As large numbers of baby boomers prepare to leave the workforce, they will be increasingly replaced by younger workers, who tend to be as dissatisfied with their jobs, but have different attitudes and expectations about the role of work in their lives. This transition will present a new challenge for employers."

Money Can't Buy Me Love

The survey finds that job satisfaction has declined across all income brackets in the last nine years. While 55% of workers earning more than $50,000 are satisfied with their jobs, only 14% claim they are very satisfied. At the other end of the pay scale (workers earning less than $15,000), about 45% of workers are satisfied, but only 17% express a strong level of satisfaction.

The survey also finds that employees are least satisfied with their companies' bonus plans, promotion policies, health plans and pensions. The majority are most satisfied with their commutes to work and their relationships with colleagues.

"Less than one-third of all supervisors and managers are perceived to be strong leaders," says Shubhra Ramchandani, North American Stakeholder Management Practice Leader at TNS. "The Enron/Worldcom era of corporate scandals and the outsourcing of jobs have increased the level of employee discontent. Shrugging off employee disengagement would be a disastrous, short-sighted view creating lasting global repercussions for American business."

Job Satisfaction -- By Age, Income And Region

  • The largest decline in overall job satisfaction, from 60.9% to 49.2%, occurred among workers 35-44.
  • The second largest decline took place among workers aged 45-54, with the satisfaction level dropping from 57.3% to 47.7%.
  • The smallest decline occurred among workers 65 and over. Overall job satisfaction declined from 60.8% to 58.0%, making this group the most satisfied with their jobs.
  • The largest decline in job satisfaction took place among householders earning $25,000 to $35,000, with satisfaction falling from 55.7% to 41.4%. This income group expressed the second lowest level of overall satisfaction.
  • The second largest decline was posted by householders earning $35,000-$50,000. This group experienced a decline from 59.7% to 46.7%.
  • With less than 47% of householders claiming to be satisfied with their current job, workers in the Middle Atlantic and Mountain states are the least satisfied workers in the U.S.
  • The East South Central region has the most content workers. Close to 59% of residents in these states claim they are satisfied with their jobs.
  • Company promotion policies and bonus plans tended to be the lowest on the satisfaction scale.
  • Educational and job training programs did not fare well either. Only 30% of workers claimed to be satisfied with these types of company programs.
  • Workers also rated their wages poorly, with only 33.5% of householders expressing satisfaction with their pay.

Additional results from the supplemental survey conducted by TNS in August 2004 include:

  • 40% of workers feel disconnected from their employers.
  • Two out of every three workers do not identify with or feel motivated to drive their employer's business goals and objectives.
  • 25% of employees are just "showing up to collect a paycheck."

For more information Visit The Conference Board's website --

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