American Employees Put Work-Life Balance Over Job Satisfaction, Survey Shows

A young adult woman takes a break from exploring a nature park on a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest, her canine companion joining her.
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A new study from Motivosity, the modern employee engagement software platform, revealed that Americans may be quitting their jobs in droves, but most actually love their jobs — and for surprising reasons. When survey respondents shared those reasons, 75% said they “love” their job because it gives them enough time to do what they love outside of work, not because of the work itself.

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The key takeaway, according to Motivosity founder and CEO Scott Johnson? “Having time outside of work to do the things you love is just as important as loving what you do. Work and life blend together, and if you don’t love one, it makes it harder to love the other.”

Other reasons people love their jobs included:

  • Clients and co-workers they interact with (44%)
  • Ability to maintain a good work/life balance (39%)
  • Roles and responsibilities (39%)
  • The industry they work in (34%)
  • Their manager or boss (30%)

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With the realization that so many people put their co-workers and clients at the top of their list when it comes to enjoying work, the pandemic created new and unique challenges with employee engagement and retention.

Johnson told GOBankingRates, “When people stepped away from their normal work environments, especially with COVID, they started asking why they were working and what they were working for. The titles, vacation time and social interaction that mattered before really didn’t make a difference now that they were working from their home offices.”

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What really matters to employees, now, is work/life balance and an actual affinity for the work they’re doing.

See: 20 Best and Worst Jobs for Work-Life BalanceFind: Latest Job Perk — Firms Adopt Automatic Retirement Savings Plans to Attract More Workers

Gender Gap in Job Satisfaction

It was surprising, in this era of “The Great Resignation,” with quit rates hovering near — or exceeding — all-time highs, that 69% of employees said they “love” their current job, and 41% even called it their dream job.

However, a gender gap exists in this important workplace metric of job satisfaction. Only 59% of women said they enjoy what they do for a living, while 82% of the men polled said the same. More than half (52%) of men also said they were working in their dream job, compared to just 31% of women.

If this sounds all too familiar to you, Erica Newell, Motivosity vice president of customer success, suggests it’s time to start going after your dreams. “Start. Now,” she emphasized. “Whether your dream is to be an executive at a Fortune 500 or to have your own business, make decisions now that will help you be the happiest and most fulfilled in your career. After all, isn’t that really what success is all about? Be intentional about learning opportunities, take on more responsibility in your current role and push yourself to be better than you were yesterday.”

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In a Labor Shortage, Job Burnout Becomes a Real Fear

Even those who are happiest in their jobs right now worry about getting burnt out. Fifty-five percent of women polled and 72% of men said they feared burn-out for a variety of reasons. Top concerns included:

  • Increasing workloads (45%)
  • Stressors unique to a particular industry (40%)
  • Lack of work-life balance (37%)

To avoid this contingency and potentially losing what was once a good thing, Newell advised, “Individuals should set reasonable boundaries and companies should respect them. Set boundaries for yourself within your work life. If your manager doesn’t support you, it’s unlikely that will ever be your dream job.”

See: Why Employers Need to Adapt to Employees Post-PandemicFind: 5 Alternatives to Quitting in the Post-Pandemic Great Resignation

Johnson suggested asking for consistent and frequent one-on-one time with your supervisor to halt problems before they start. “These frequent check-ins build the employee/manager relationship and give both managers and employees an opportunity to improve communication and productivity,” he said, adding that these meetings can help prevent burn out and unite the entire team.

Seeing that 44% of employees love their job because of the people they work with, this culture of teamwork can be crucial to career longevity and a long-term commitment to the company you work for. “The companies that are retaining people and seeing positive engagement are the ones who are putting connecting their employees first,” Johnson said. “Life is too short to not love what you do all day.”

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