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It was an informal poll to get some sense of why workers have job satisfaction. The answers were eye opening. 


Over the past two or so years, I've been asking folks, "Why do you like your job?" The range of responses have come from fast food workers, people on the street, office workers, government employees, transit security workers, and librarians. The reasons were as different as the individual speaking. However, there were some things that had a certain commonality.

Employers and recruiters are constantly looking for the quality hire -- the person who is going to be motivated to do a good job, with the least amount of cost in the shortest amount of time and that will attract repeat business at increasing profits. They want to find people who will cause customers to refer business to others. Once these types of jewel employees are in the fold, some employers strive to achieve what may seem like the most difficult task of all -- retain these workers and attract others like them. So the comments from this straw poll should be of great significance to hiring managers, HR pros, managers, and recruiters.

Choosing the Respondents
The selections for the poll question, "Why do you like your job?" were random, arbitrary and not based on anything more than the fact that they looked approachable at the moment.

One person was standing on a bus stop. She had just gotten off work. Two others were in the office at their desks. While both appeared satisfied, one's face brightened as she agreed to answer the question while her co-worker's face darkened. The state security officer was on the job, new to the position by about three weeks or so. He was happy to respond.

Several of the office workers were commute captives. They've become friends because they travel at approximately the same time, going both ways. What attracted me to them was the fact that they were so convivial and their conversations so diverse and outward in perspective.

The librarians were chosen because it's a profession that tends to be taken for granted so much. Given that fact of life, I felt they would have extremely interesting words to share.

The Representative Companies
One of the employers is a regional turnkey business services office suite. The fast food representatives were Yoshinoya and McDonald's. The transit officer is a California deputy sheriff. Several of the office workers are in support positions in local government. And I also surveyed a manager at FedEx/Kinko's.

And They Said, ...
There's more opportunity for promotion now that the two companies have merged is what the FedEx/Kinko's manager shared. She liked the fact that the work opportunities are more diverse. And she enjoyed the fact that working conditions had vastly improved. She has a good selection of hours to work and training opportunities are available for people so that they can make good moves for themselves within the company.

In the same vein, the McDonald's manager cited a "grow into it" environment with the company. It's a good company because you can come in as a food server. If that's all you want from your job, that's all you'll do and then you'll move on to something else.

The manager was open to sharing so I listened. People come to McDonald's and prove themselves worthy of promotion. That's how they get ahead. If they're fast, accurate, courteous, enthusiastic, they will be noticed. They will be offered not only an increase in salary but an opportunity for a promotion.

Promotions come in stages. Those stages are always prefaced by training to ensure that the person knows what they're supposed to do and that they're doing it properly before they're thrown into it.

Not only is promotional training available. If a person wants to continue their education, there are ways that the company can support that endeavor. Unfortunately, the McDonald's survey was more than three years ago and the educational opportunity details are now faint.

The Yoshinoya employee literally raved about her employer. "I love working there! It's like family." No, that doesn't mean she goes there to put her feet on the coffee table and shoot the breeze. She works and works hard.

What she meant by 'having family' was that the company truly cares about the welfare of their workers. It offers flexibility. The pay is good for fast food work. Benefits are available! This was of paramount importance to this young woman. And the hours of work proved to be a good match for her needs. But the family atmosphere, the care and interest the company has about the welfare of their workers were the most important issues to her.

The two librarians, although both profess a love of books and information, had different perspectives about what keeps them in this profession. One enjoys the challenge of finding diverse information from so many different resources. She enjoys the research.

The other finds enjoyment in not only the information but also in being of service to the public. She sees herself as providing a unique service, no matter what the setting. It all boils down to the fact that she simply found the right calling and she absolutely loves her work. It is extremely satisfying.

The office co-workers had very disparate perspectives. Although unspoken, one's face dropped at the question. Judging by the guarded words she used, she's suffered disappointments in the past that seem to carry a common theme. However, she expressed relief that her working conditions at this office were much better than at her previous employment. The opportunities were greater and she felt she could rely on the representations her employer made.

The co-worker, on the other hand, was extremely enthusiastic and animated. She is a college student. Her job is just enough for her. It is a means of earning income to pay bills and education costs. The challenges are not such that they "go home" with her which means she can then focus on doing quality studying and earning good grades. That means the job is helping her work toward her own future.

The California deputy sheriff is in the transit security section and relatively new to the job. He beams at being able to wear the uniform and appeared gratified that someone would ask about his satisfaction with the job. What he likes is the courtesy of the people, the friendliness.

The commute captives encompassed local government workers and office support staff. Given their work environments, it seemed important to not ask a lot of detailed questions so that the possibility of gaining confidential information did not become an issue.

One said she is just glad, given these times and her age, that she even has a job. Actually, she has two part-time jobs but she considers they daytime one her primary situation. Between the two, however, it sounded as though she derives more satisfaction from the evening work where she has more freedom and enjoys the company of the clients.

There was a common, two-pronged thread among the commuters' responses. Having autonomy ran through the words of each. Being heard was another important element that created satisfaction. Being seen as an authority and being relied on for expertise was yet another.

The Missing Element
One thing should be of paramount interest to all of you. Even with the person who demonstrated dissatisfaction with their job, the one element that did not affect job satisfaction was amount of pay. No matter how many dollars and cents you throw at a person, if a positive work environment, quality challenging work, and a sense of worth are missing, the level of satisfaction and amount of quality productivity will plummet. You may as well invest precious dollars in a dry oil well.

Okay. Now, I'll turn my informal poll around and ask you, "Why do your workers like their jobs?"

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