Career Advice

The Real Source of Job Satisfaction

If, like the Rolling Stones, you can’t get no satisfaction (on the job), a recent survey may be able to shed a little light on why. Business backer FundRocket asked more than 1,000 workers what gives them purpose and pride at work—and what they found may surprise you. (Hint: It doesn’t come down to salary.)

Asked what aspects of their jobs gave them the most pride, survey participants responded with 15 top answers—and pay came in dead last. Rather, “nearly four in five respondents suggested their professional skill sets were a point of pride,” the survey says. What’s more, 74 percent of respondents said their professional reputations and self-reliance gave them a sense of pride.

Career coach Hallie Crawford says she’s not surprised that salary doesn’t give more workers more satisfaction. “[A worker’s pay] is a piece of job satisfaction, of course, but this isn’t necessarily the main source of happiness for professionals,” she tells Glassdoor. “When professionals feel good about their jobs, that they are making a difference, or working towards something that is important for them, often that provides more job satisfaction than a paycheck.” Of course, on the flip side, “a professional could be making a large amount but not enjoy their job—therefore, their paycheck doesn’t give them much job satisfaction,” Crawford points out.

According to the survey, workload completion could also give pride and satisfaction. It was the sixth-most sited source of pride and satisfaction, after the worker’s skill level, the product or service offered at the worker’s company, and the worker’s reputation, self-reliance, and self-improvement—none of which surprise Crawford, either. “When we’re able to use what we know and are productive, this is a great source of job satisfaction,” Crawford explains. “And when we can complete tasks successfully, that’s also a boost, because we can see what we accomplish.”

Self-improvement, on the other hand, gives workers pride and satisfaction because “growing as a professional and learning new skills prevents career burnout,” Crawford says. “When we improve, personally and professionally, we feel better about ourselves and are usually more effective in our tasks. Having a continued sense of challenge impacts satisfaction enormously.”

Lastly, the survey shed some light on how to feel pride in our work: Those who reported better friendships and relationships—those who reported satisfaction in their personal relationships—also reported having more pride in their work. “Among those who reported satisfaction with their friendships,” the survey reports, “about 60 percent or more felt confident, productive, and worthy in their professional roles. … A similar pattern emerged in connection to relationship satisfaction. When compared to those dissatisfied with their romantic relationships, individuals who were satisfied with their romantic lives were twice as likely to feel accomplished at work.”

There’s a good reason why that’s the case: “When we are satisfied in our personal lives, which is a big part of life, we feel happier in other areas of our lives as well, such as in our jobs,” points out Crawford. “Our personal lives impact our professional lives. Also, having work-life balance—to take time to work on personal relationships—contributes to our overall happiness. 

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