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More U.S. workers unhappy with health benefits, promotions, according to Gallup poll

U.S. workers are more dissatisfied today with their health insurance benefits and their chances for promotion than they were before the global economic collapse. These are the biggest movers since August 2008 on a list of 13 specific job aspects Gallup tracks.

  1. The health insurance benefits your employer offers: 19 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 30 percent in 2011.
  2. Your chances for promotion: 19 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 26 percent in 2011.
  3. The amount of on-the-job stress in your job: 28 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 34 percent in 2011.
  4. Your job security: 13 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 18 percent in 2011.
  5. The physical safety conditions of your workplace: 5 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 9 percent in 2011.
  6. The amount of work that is required of you: 13 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 17 percent in 2011.
  7. Your relations with coworkers: 1 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 4 percent in 2011.
  8. The retirement plan your employer offers: 25 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 28 percent in 2011.
  9. The amount of money you earn: 27 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 30 percent in 2011.
  10. The amount of vacation time you receive: 18 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 20 percent in 2011.
  11. The recognition you receive at work from your work accomplishments: 17 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 19 percent in 2011.
  12. The flexibility of your hours: 12 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 12 percent in 2011.
  13. Your boss or immediate supervisor: 13 percent dissatisfied in 2008, 12 percent in 2011.

The findings are from Gallup’s annual Work and Education Poll, conducted Aug. 11-14, 2011. The majority of workers are at least somewhat satisfied with these job aspects, which Gallup asks about each year, but often fewer than half are completely satisfied. On-the-job stress remains the aspect workers’ are least positive about overall, as it was last year, with 28 percent of workers completely satisfied. Workers remain the most satisfied with the physical safety conditions of their workplace, with 72 percent completely satisfied.

Between those extremes, workers tend to be more satisfied with the people they work with –namely, their coworkers and boss –and their schedule in terms of flexibility, vacation time, and amount of work required than they are with what they get in return. Fewer than half are completely satisfied with the recognition they receive, their chances for promotion, their health insurance benefits, the retirement plan their employer offers, and the amount of money they earn.

Just under half of workers, 49 percent, tell Gallup they are completely satisfied with their job security. Gallup in the same poll found 30 percent of workers worried about being laid off in the near future, near the all-time high.

Together, the findings point toward an issue that may be bubbling under the surface of the nation’s unemployment problem. With more workers than jobs, workers who do have jobs may be staying in jobs that they are less satisfied with. Further, employers who are struggling financially may be cutting back on salaries, promotions, and health benefits –to the dissatisfaction of workers for whom those aspects may count more than ever. Indeed, 83 percent of workers in this survey say they are satisfied with their job overall, compared with 90 percent before the recession. However, the survey did not ask workers about their level of engagement with their work and workplace, which Gallup research has documented as an even more important measure of productivity and job creation.

Long-term view provides more positive picture. Although negativity has edged higher over the past three years, workers’ satisfaction with these 13 aspects of their job is generally stable or improved from 10 years ago, when the economy was also struggling with the bursting of the dot-com bubble. Only workers’ satisfaction with their job security has trended slightly lower since August 2001.

  1. The recognition you receive at work from your work accomplishments: 39 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 47 percent in 2011.
  2. The physical safety conditions of your workplace: 65 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 72 percent in 2011.
  3. Your boss or immediate supervisor: 51 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 72 percent in 2011.
  4. Your chances for promotion: 32 percent completely satisfied in 2011, 39 percent in 2011.
  5. The flexibility of your hours: 57 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 63 percent in 2011.
  6. The amount of work that is required of you: 47 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 53 percent in 2011.
  7. The amount of on-the-job stress in your job: 22 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 28 percent in 2011.
  8. The amount of money you earn: 24 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 29 percent in 2011.
  9. Your relations with coworkers: 64 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 29 percent in 2011.
  10. The retirement plan your employer offers: 31 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 34 percent in 2011.
  11. The amount of vacation time you receive: 52 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 54 percent in 2011.
  12. The health insurance benefits your employer offers: 36 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 35 percent in 2011.
  13. Your job security: 54 percent completely satisfied in 2001, 49 percent in 2011.

Implications. Workers’ perceptions about their jobs deserve as much attention from leaders as the nation’s unemployment rate and the need to create new jobs. More than one in four workers remain dissatisfied with the tangible things they get in return for their work, which could affect their willingness to work harder for the good of their employer and the economy more broadly, not to mention their own willingness to spend. At the same time, employers may face an understandable dilemma between hiring new workers and better compensating the ones they have. As such, these measures provide yet another important gauge of the nation’s true economic health.

Source: Gallup; www.gallup.com.