More than 60 percent of the nation's employees describe themselves as satisfied
with their compensation and benefits packages, but just 45 percent view their
organizations' pay policies are fair, according to the results of a survey sponsored
by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and CNNfn.
In addition, 27 percent say their base pay does not fairly represent their
contributions--at least when compared to the contributions of other employees.
SHRM notes that its previous research shattered one myth: that money is the
most tangible satisfier for employees. Yet the new survey results suggest to
the organization that pay-related issues--like communication about pay,
or designing pay policies that employees regard as fair--can affect job
The survey also focused on the perceptions of human-resource professionals.
Seventy percent of them described the employees at their respective companies
as satisfied with their compensation. How did the employees describe themselves?
It turns out the HR folks pretty much had their fingers on the pulse; employee
satisfaction totaled 63 percent.
SHRM said HR pros now need to help their organizations communicate their pay
policies in order to raise that percentage.
"Although compensation is only one component of overall job satisfaction,
communication within the organization is another. Organizations should take
every opportunity to communicate with their employees on issues of importance
in the interest of transparency and open communication within the organization,"
said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of SHRM.
"This survey reveals that employees tend to believe their company's
pay policy is fair if HR professionals explain compensation packages to them,"
said Ken Jautz, executive vice president and general manager of CNN Business
News. "The survey results show that for working Americans straightforward
communication from their employers about their compensation is absolutely critical
to their job satisfaction."
Illustrating the importance of communication, the survey found that nearly
half of the employees who were dissatisfied with the communication explaining
how their pay was determined were also dissatisfied with their total compensation
package. Conversely, when employees understand how compensation is determined,
they tend to be more satisfied with their compensation packages and jobs overall.
One demographic-specific finding reflected generational differences. Workers
age 56 and older indicated compensation contributed more to their overall job
satisfaction than workers age 35 and younger. This correlates to the belief
that less work experience may mean less money. It may also speak to existing
generational differences where Generation X and Y workers base job satisfaction
more on work/life issues, communication between management and employees, and
career advancement opportunities than on compensation.
SHRM and CNNfn are conducting a series of surveys to evaluate employee job
satisfaction based on previous SHRM research that rated important components
to job satisfaction. Total compensation and pay rated fifth in a list of "very
important" components to job satisfaction. According to a September 2002
SHRM survey, employees rated job security, benefits, communications between
employees and management and employee flexibility to balance life and work issues
as the other "very important" aspects of employee job satisfaction.
Sixty-four percent of employees say that compensation contributes "somewhat"
or "to a large extent" to their overall job satisfaction. Of those
employees who were satisfied that their pay was a fair representation of their
contributions, almost 9 of 10 report overall job satisfaction. This compares
to 72 percent of all employees who report overall job satisfaction. This indicates
that those who feel that their pay reflects their contributions to the organization
are more likely to report overall job satisfaction.
Speaking generally about overall job satisfaction, the vast majority of employees
continue to report being satisfied with their jobs. Although 72 percent of employees
reporting overall job satisfaction is an encouraging figure, it does represent
a slight slip from the earlier surveys. In September 2002, 77 percent were satisfied;
in February 2003, 80 percent were satisfied; and in August 2003, 76 percent
reported overall job satisfaction. In the same surveys, HR professionals reported
their perceptions of employee satisfaction: in September 2002, 79 percent perceived
employees as satisfied; 81 percent in February 2003; 72 percent in August 2003;
and 82 percent in this survey.