Job Satisfaction – It’s Not All About The Money

Fri, 16 May 2014
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It’s not all about the Money –  by Julia Sandler

Money – how much does it motivate and engage talent?  We would be lying if we said it isn’t a significant part of what initially attracts a candidate to a role.  Salary absolutely counts.  However money isn’t nearly as good at retaining talent as it is at attracting it. As discussed in Stephen Bevan’s recent article Stephan Bevan: Financial Rewards don’t motivate workers[1]keeping talent enthused and on board is more complicated than dangling a financially attractive carrot in front of them and comes down to the multifaceted little number that is job satisfaction.  So, if as Bevan suggests that “Overall, the correlation between job satisfaction and ‘turnover intentions’ – the intention to resign in the next six months – [is] very strong”[2]then the importance of HR as a strategic function in developing and maintaining an organisational culture that fulfil the job satisfaction needs of employees, so that they can in turn meet the needs of the business, should not be underestimated.

If not money then what matters in terms of job satisfaction? It seems job satisfaction is the sum of its parts and considering the individual elements that make up a person’s employment experience is key in being able to, well…satisfy them. Let’s have a look at the parts –

The “Where”

Where I work- The physical environment. How does it affect me? Do the facilities allow me to do my job in reasonable comfort and safety? Am I inspired by the environment?

The “Who”

Who I work for -The organisation as a whole. Do I like the organisational culture and do I care about the overall organisational objectives?

Who I work with-  My team members and my manager. Do I get along with my team members? Are my interactions with people positive or negative? What is my relationship with my manager like? What are the team dynamics – inclusive or exclusive, social or anti-social?

The “What”

What my work is -The specific tasks and responsibilities within my role.  How much do I enjoy performing the specific tasks of my role and how well do I perform them?

The “How”

How my work is valued -Do I feel appreciated? Is my work acknowledged? Am I thanked?

How my work is rewarded -Is my salary proportionate to my role and responsibilities? Are there opportunities for promotion/career progression?

How my work is valued and rewarded and how I am treated vs how other people’s work is valued and rewarded and how they are treated -Am I treated fairly? Are opportunities for Learning and Development given equally?


Perhaps HR’s challenge is in helping develop and maintain an organisation where, for individuals, as many of the answers to the above questions as possible are positive. If looking at what would happen to job satisfaction levels if all the above questions were answered in the negative this seems to make perfect sense!   So how does HR help an organisation tick those boxes and achieve positive answers to the ponderings of job satisfaction? How do we make people happy at work (though if you know the answer to the overall secret of making people generally happy please speak up!)?

In looking at the parts that make up the employee experience it is clear that excluding tangible rewards there are lots of intangible ways an organisation can contribute to employee job satisfaction levels. For example, establishing a positive company culture that engages individuals and sets accepted and encouraged standards of interpersonal and professional behaviour which filter down into the interactions between colleagues and ultimately affect how employees feel about “who they work for” and “who they work with”. There are also “soft benefits” an area where employers can get creative! Soft benefits can be anything from free lunch – who said there was no such a thing?, gym subsidies/memberships, private health insurance, study bursaries, ride to work schemes, company happy hours, a day off on your birthday, life assurance, season ticket loans, PARTIES, sweets, treats, and anything that generally makes employees feel valued, appreciated and all warm and fuzzy on the inside. On that note there is also the importance of saying “Thanks”. Apparently “being told ‘thank you’ in the workplace is worth on average £1,608 a year”[3].


Additionally it appears the workplace environment and company processes and policies also have an impact on individuals’ employment experience. Making the physical workplace environment as nice and inspiring as possible within company means and the necessary functional requirements, having a robust recruitment process (to ensure you are hiring people who want, who are capable of and who are going to be stimulated by the roles you are hiring them for) and having well developed policies regarding areas that matter to employees in terms of job satisfaction such as Learning and Development could act as a pre-emptive strike on the job satisfaction of employees.

Most HR professionals understand the impact that company culture, soft benefits, processes and polices have on individual employee job satisfaction and that is exactly why HR are so important! Within a company HR are the champions of job satisfaction itself and therefor a key asset in retaining talent.


[1] HR Magazine – Stephen Bevan: financial rewards don’t motivate workers. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 May 2014].

[2]  HR Magazine – Stephen Bevan: financial rewards don’t motivate workers. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 May 2014].

[3] HR Magazine – More than half of employees feel undervalued, says study. 2014. HR Magazine – More than half of employees feel undervalued, says study. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2014].