Happiness is a journey—and I’m not talking about your commute to work. We spend almost a quarter of our adult life working. It’s only natural that we shouldn’t leave our pursuit of happiness at the office door.
Job security, adequate pay, and work-life balance become increasingly important as we’re recovering from COVID-19 and heading into another recession.
Job satisfaction describes your subjective well-being and happiness at work.
In this stats compilation, you’ll learn:
- How many people in the US like their jobs.
- Why people quit, and why they’re doing it at an alarming rate now.
- Why job satisfaction hasn’t plummeted during COVID-19.
- What careers you should avoid if you want to stay happy-go-lucky.
- —and many more fascinating stats about job satisfaction.
Job Satisfaction in America: General Statistics
- 78% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs. (Randstad, 2019; Statista, 2018)
- 86% of Americans are satisfied with their schedule and working hours. (APA, 2022)
- San Jose, CA; Washington, DC; Boston, MA; and Austin, TX share the first position as the cities with the highest job satisfaction in the US. (Glassdoor, 2020)
- Raleigh, NC is the all-around best city to work in, considering the factors of job satisfaction, median salary, and median home value. (Glassdoor, 2020)
- Happy workers are 13% more productive. (University of Oxford, 2019)
- Teams that are highly engaged in their work generate 21% more profit. (Gallup, 2018)
- A third of people wouldn’t mind earning less if they could contribute to their society. Among Americans, this number is a whopping 41%. (Randstad, 2022)
- 31% of Americans list having a meaningful job as the source of their greatest happiness. (IPSOS, 2020)
- Job satisfaction was at its lowest during the Great Recession and has been steadily climbing up since 2010. (The Conference Board, 2021)
Key Factors of Employee Satisfaction
It’s hard to measure job satisfaction accurately like an average salary—in many ways, it’s utterly subjective. Statisticians and HR professionals carry out surveys to find out which factors drive happiness at work. Here are the heavyweights:
- Factors that matter for job satisfaction of employees in the US:
- Culture and values—22%
- Senior leadership—21%
- Career opportunities—19%
- Business outlook—14%
- Work-life balance—13%
- Compensation and benefits—12% (Glassdoor, 2017; Glassdoor 2022)
- Three of the factors: compensation and benefits, work-life balance, and business outlook become less and less important as the pay rises. (Glassdoor, 2017)
- For employees earning over $120,000, compensation and benefits make up only 9.8% of overall satisfaction, and work-life balance—9.5%. (Glassdoor, 2017)
- The two factors that affect employee satisfaction the most are commute to work and relationship with their colleagues—60% of Americans consider them crucial. (Statista, 2019)
- Government employees regard culture and values more highly than an average American, while work-life balance is less important to them. (Glassdoor, 2022)
Job Dissatisfaction: “The Great Resignation” Is in Full Swing
With 2021 came a new economic phenomenon dubbed “the big quit”—people have been leaving their jobs at an astonishing rate. What’s behind these decisions, and what makes employees unhappy?
- 71% of Americans want to change their job. (MHA, 2017)
- One in three workers changed their job in the past year. (Owl Labs 2022)
- 45% of employees think they don’t get the money they deserve. (MHA, 2017)
- 44% believe they are overlooked at work. (MHA, 2017)
- 71% of workers say their compensation hasn’t kept up with the inflation. (APA, 2022)
- 4.4 million people resigned due to burnout or inflexibility in just September 2021. (MHA, 2022)
- Gig workers have by far the lowest job satisfaction at 39%. (Angus Reid Institute, 2022)
- 30% of Americans view their job as something that just helps them “get by” (Pew Research Center, 2016), and 52% wouldn’t work at all if money was of no concern. (Randstad, 2022)
- 69% of employees say they would work harder if they received recognition for their efforts. (Officevibe, 2022)
- The three main reasons workers quit their jobs in 2021 were low compensation (63%), no opportunities for career advancement (63%), and feeling disrespected at work (57%). (PEW Research, 2021)
- 43% of workers reported that their company has “never” or “rarely” had realistic workload expectations. (MHA, 2017)
Top 5 things workers wouldn’t tolerate
- Sexual harassment that wasn’t addressed—79%
- Selling user data without consent—76%
- Harming the environment—72%
- Underpaying women and minorities—71%
- Lobbying against consumer protections—69% (The Manifest, 2019)
Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace
Sexual harassment and discrimination deeply affect their victims, so no wonder workers wouldn’t tolerate it if unaddressed. Still, the numbers can be pretty surprising.
- 53% of workers between the ages of 18 and 25 don’t feel accepted at their workplace. (APA, 2022)
- 30% of employees have experienced workplace harassment and verbal or physical abuse in the past year alone. (APA, 2022)
- People who have experienced or witnessed discrimination at work are more than twice (68% vs 33%) as likely to seek new employment in the next year. (APA, 2021)
- A fifth of employees would resign if their employer didn’t act against sexual harassment. (The Manifest, 2019)
- Two thirds of organizations where women, people of color, or LGBT+ individuals are in senior leadership positions have diversity policies in place. (APA, 2022)
- 38% of women and 13% of men have experienced sexual harassment at work. (Stop Street Harassment, 2018)
- Three in four cases of sexual harassment never get reported. (EEOC, 2016)
Harassment at work: The basis of charges received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Healthy and unhealthy workplaces
Mental Health America has done a study of work health in the US, dividing workplaces into healthy and unhealthy. The differences between the two are staggering:
|9.38%||Employees are actively looking for a new position||38.48%|
|15.64%||Workers find it hard to concentrate at work||31.58%|
|14.50%||The stress from work has led to other mental health concerns (anxiety, depression, substance abuse)||31.57%|
|16.49%||The stress from work influences relationships with friends, family, and colleagues||30.24%|
|53.01%||Organization’s leadership speaks openly about mental health in the workplace||4.07%|
|50.75%||Company invests in developing supportive managers||2.96%|
|50.52%||Company’s leadership is invested in their workers’ well-being||2.73%|
|42.15%||Organization provides access to mental health training||8.21%|
|40.64%||Company invests in an inclusive environment where employees of all identities feel valued and represented||6.65%|
|48.18%||Managers actively encourage taking time off when employees need it||3.89%|
|52.99%||Employees are comfortable providing feedback to the manager about their performance||5.39%|
Job Satisfaction in the Time of COVID-19
COVID-19 has changed the way we work. Strangely, job satisfaction is at its historical highest despite the challenges people had to face:
- 40% of women work in the sectors hit the hardest during COVID-19. (WHR, 2021) Women make up about 78% of all employees in healthcare and social assistance, so they’ve been exposed to greater health risks. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022)
- Unemployment among young adults increased by 290% in comparison with 2019. (WHR, 2021)
- Quit rates have increased in the pandemic throughout all industries, but were especially high in leisure and hospitality. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022)
- 45% of people think their work-related stress has increased in the past year. (Owl Labs, 2022)
- Workers are less satisfied with safety conditions during the pandemic (74% satisfaction rate in 2019 dropped to 65% in 2020). (Gallup, 2020)
- Attention span at work keeps falling. In 2022, 71% of employees reported that they find it difficult to concentrate at work. These figures were 65% in 2021, and 46% in 2018. (MHA, 2022)
Work-wise, the pandemic has disproportionately hit people in their twenties and thirties— other age groups have mostly seen positive changes (WHR, 2021).
As for COVID-19 perks, remote work and wellness programs raise job satisfaction the most.
- 71% of individuals have noticed their employer pays more attention to their mental health now than before the pandemic. (APA, 2022)
Remote work and employment trends
During the pandemic, there was a massive shift to remote (and hybrid) working styles. After almost three years, it’s clear that people don’t want to return to the office.
- In 2022 24% more people chose to work remotely compared to 2021. (Owl Labs, 2022)
- If remote work was taken away, 66% of employees would start looking for a new job. (Owl Labs, 2022)
- Millennials prefer working remotely more than any other age group (44% would go for it). (Owl Labs, 2022)
- More than half of the respondents want their organizations to introduce asynchronous work (where the team doesn’t have to be online at the same time—or even have the same schedule). (Buffer, 2022)
- 92% of organizations now offer telehealth and telemedicine options to their employees. This number was only 62% in 2018. (SHRM, 2022)
- Women prefer remote work to hybrid and on-site systems, while men rate remote and hybrid work almost equally. (Owl Labs, 2022)
Workplace Satisfaction and Wellness
- 80% of workers confirm that stress from work affects their relationships with family and friends. (MHA, 2022)
- Offering wellness programs to employees increases job satisfaction: 67% of workers reported a boost in job satisfaction, 66%—increased productivity, while 63%—greater financial stability. (IFEBP, 2017)
- The most important strategies to improve workers’ mental health are managerial support, company investments, and employee empowerment. (MHA, 2022)
- Overall, 78% of employees believe that stress from work has caused them other mental health issues (anxiety, depression, and substance abuse). (MHA, 2022; MHA, 2021)
- Of employees at companies that support well-being efforts, 89% are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work. (APA, 2016)
- Only 30% of workers have health insurance that covers mental health, of which 93% find it ineffective. (APA, 2022)
- Out of the employees who feel stressed and anxious at work, 60% reported that their employers monitor them using software, cameras, and other technologies. (APA, 2022)
- 23% of people who are constantly monitored at work consider this environment to be “very toxic”. (APA, 2022)
- 81% of employees say they’ll be looking for workplaces that value mental health in the future. (APA, 2022)
- Disengaged employees cost their companies between $450 and $550 billion a year. (The Engagement Institute, 2017)
The six key factors that can improve employees’ mental health
- Flexible working hours.
- Workplace culture that respects time off.
- Ability to work remotely.
- Four-day work week (APA, 2022).
- Breaks during the workday.
- Encouraging employees to take care of their health (APA, 2021).
Fake it till you make it? How unhappy employees hide their problems
It might be tempting to suck it up and put on a fake smile if you’re miserable at work. But the “fake it till you make it” strategy doesn’t work with job satisfaction—it’ll only make you more miserable.
- 81% of employees with low job satisfaction fake happiness at work. (Ladders, 2020)
- Those who fake happiness waste 35 minutes more during their working day than people who are happy. (Ladders, 2020)
- 66% of workers who fake happiness don’t get enough sleep. (Ladders, 2020)
- People who fake happiness are twice as likely to eat unhealthy foods and not exercise. (Ladders, 2020)
- One in four people who are unhappy with their job, still post positively about it on social media. (Ladders, 2020)
Employment Satisfaction Statistics by Gender
Gender inequality is still rampant in the workplace—women tend to be underpaid and mistreated in comparison with men—but how are they feeling at work?
- 74% of men claim they are compensated fairly for their work, while only 65% of women say the same. (APA, 2021)
- If employees could choose one extra benefit, one third would choose extra pay. Women (36%) especially value this as a perk. (APA, 2021)
- Women are more likely to say that equal pay is needed to achieve a healthy workplace (50% in comparison with 43% of men). (APA, 2021)
- Women are almost 10% more likely to fake happiness at work. (Ladders, 2020)
- 79% of women care if they are perceived as happy at their job, while only 65% of male employees share these feelings. (Ladders, 2020)
- Women experience burnout more than men, especially in senior positions: 43% of women leaders are burned out, in comparison with 31% of men. (McKinsey 2021)
- Workload, co-workers, and work-life balance affect women’s overall job satisfaction more than men’s. (The Conference Board, 2019)
- Men are more money-driven—they find wages, retirement plan, and promotion policies the most important. (The Conference Board, 2019)
Which Generation Is the Happiest at Work?
Bridging the generational gaps among at least four generations currently active in the workforce—Gen Z, millennials, Generation X, and baby boomers—might be a challenge for employers everywhere. What are the main differences among those age groups at work?
- Millennials are the happiest generation, with 57% being extremely happy with their jobs. (GoodHire, 2021)
- Gen Z have the lowest job satisfaction—22% go as far as saying they hate their jobs. (GoodHire, 2021)
- 56% of Gen Z would quit their job if it was stopping them from enjoying life (only 38% of baby boomers share this view). (Randstad, 2022)
- 75% of Gen Z employees say work is important to their lives, higher than the oldest group surveyed (68%). (Randstad, 2022)
- 37% of adults under 30 voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021, compared with 17% of those aged 30–49, 9% of 50–64-year-olds, and 5% of those 65 and older.” (Pew Research, 2022)
- 90% of millennials would prefer a four-day workweek. (GoodHire, 2021)
- 37% of baby boomers dislike working remotely (GoodHire, 2021)—they’re the only generation that prefers in-office work. (Owl Labs, 2022)
Job Satisfaction Statistics by Profession
We keep asking ourselves if our careers bring us joy—but which professions are the happiest and most meaningful in 2023?
- Corporate recruiters and realtors had the highest job satisfaction (4.4 out of 5) in 2022 according to Glassdoor. (Glassdoor, 2022)
- 32.3% of developers are highly satisfied with their jobs—and 65% are happy with where they are. (Stack Overflow, 2020)
- Developers are more satisfied with their careers than with their current position (72.8% vs 70%). (Stack Overflow, 2018)
- Job satisfaction is at a historic low among teachers. Only 12% are highly satisfied with their employment. The previous low point was 33% in 1986. (Merrimack College, 2022)
- 55% of teachers say they wouldn’t advise their younger self to go into this profession if they could travel back in time. (Merrimack College, 2022)
Top 10 meaningful jobs (ranked by job satisfaction)
- Education administrators
- Radiation therapists
- Directors of religious activities/education
- English language and literature teachers (postsecondary)
If you want your life to have meaning and your job to bring happiness, you may want to become a (wo)man of God—90% of ministers, vicars, and rabbis say they’re happy in their jobs, while 98% find them meaningful.
Top 15 jobs with the highest job satisfaction
|Ranking||Job title||Job satisfaction||Average salary||Job meaning|
|1||Cartographers and photogrammetrists||97%||$63,100||80%|
|2||Rotary drill operators||93%||$60,400||80%|
|4||Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators||90%||$56,600||69%|
|6||Education administrators (elementary and secondary school)||88%||$76,700||95%|
|9||Emergency management specialists||86%||$57,300||79%|
|11||First-line supervisors/managers of police and detectives||85%||$69,200||90%|
|13||Directors (religious activities and education)||84%||$37,600||96%|
- Job satisfaction is 95% higher among nurses who work in hospitals with better safety practices. (Journal of Nursing Management, 2017)
- Physicians are happier at their jobs early in their career—then there’s a drop of at least 9% after six years (it only gets better after 30 years of practice). (CompHealth, 2019)
- Law is by far the dullest industry—81% of people in legal professions find their jobs boring. (Emolument, 2017)
Top 15 jobs with the lowest job satisfaction
|Ranking||Job title||Job satisfaction||Average salary||Job meaning|
|1||Lathe machine operators||35%||$34,000||32%|
|2||Laundry and dry-cleaning workers||39%||$18,700||35%|
|3||Cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers||39%||$19,400||33%|
|5||Crushing, grinding, and polishing machine operators||41%||$36,000||26%|
|6||Parking lot attendants||41%||$19,700||5%|
|7||Counter and rental clerks||43%||$26,500||26%|
|9||Cooks (short order)||45%||$20,600||36%|
|10||Photographic processing machine operators||46%||$24,300||42%|
|11||Combined food preparation and serving workers (including fast food)||46%||$19,000||33%|
|13||Home appliance repairers||47%||$38,000||44%|
- 71% of women working in the restaurant industry have been sexually harassed. (EEOC, 2016)
- 63% of flight attendants have been verbally abused, 26%—sexually harassed, and 2%—sexually assaulted (mostly by passengers) last year alone. (PubMed, 2019)
Top three healthiest industries
- Non-profit organizations (MHA, 2017)
The unhealthiest industries
- Food industry (MHA, 2017)
Job Satisfaction Statistics by Country
Now you know all about job satisfaction in the US. Let’s finish off with some global stats:
- Job satisfaction is the lowest in Japan at only 42%. Hong Kong is a close second with a satisfaction rate of 49%. (Randstad, 2019)
- Only 15% of Japanese workers would rather be unemployed than unhappy at work (and fewer than one in five have quit for this reason). (Randstad, 2022)
- Half of Danish employees would chose unemployment over being miserable at work (33% worldwide). (Randstad, 2022)
- 80% of workforce in Luxembourg have received better benefits and compensation because of COVID-19 (only 22% worldwide). (Randstad, 2022)
- People in Latin America are considerably less tolerant of poor jobs. Nearly half (47%) left their jobs last year, because they didn’t fit in with their lifestyle (more than in North America (29%) or any other region). (Randstad, 2022)
- In New Zealand, Cancer Control Agency staff have the highest job satisfaction (87%) among all public service workers (the average for all sectors is 69%). (Public Service Commission, 2021)
Top 10 countries by job satisfaction
The Bottom Line
Forget the pandemic and the looming economic crisis—job satisfaction is on the rise. Employers offer mental health support, remote work, and other perks—if they don’t, people might choose to quit in favor of businesses or careers with more flexibility and pay.
No matter which group you’re in, you’ve just become 100+ facts more knowledgeable about job satisfaction in 2023!
AUTHOR Jane Tumar
Storyteller by day, data enthusiast when I have free time, meticulous researcher—always. I’ve been working as a content writer for the past 3 years. With my degree in Computer Science and Literature, I am a breathing and walking juxtaposition. I love metaphors, SQL, and round brackets (duh!).