Millennials and college grads don’t feel as fulfilled at work as more seasoned pros, research shows. Happiness increases with age, income and education level.
Entry-level workers are hungry for more.
Most working Americans are pretty happy in their positions, according to a Bankrate survey released Thursday, which found that 7 in 10 employees are satisfied with their jobs. Half (50%) rated their positions at 8 or higher, and almost 1 in 5 (19%) scored their spots a perfect 10. This backs Glassdoor’s research finding that 73% of employees say they are ‘ok’ or ‘satisfied’ with their jobs and companies.
“As the job market has continued to improve, and the unemployment rate is at a 17-year-low … it stands to reason that many workers feel a reasonable degree of job satisfaction at this point,” Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com’s senior economic analyst, told Moneyish.
But Millennials and workers whose formal education ended after college were slightly less satisfied than more seasoned professionals and those with graduate degrees. Millennials rated their gigs at a 6.9 on average, compared to Gen Xers (7) and Baby Boomers (7.2). As a matter of fact, college grads (6.97) reported feeling even less fulfilled than workers who didn’t continue their education past high school (6.98).
Hamrick notes the college degree is “a double-edged sword” because, “we know the unemployment rate is lower for college graduates than it is for those that only attended high school.” But the country’s 44 million college grads are also drowning in more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.
“So the people who did not take on student loan debt, but they did get a reasonable, well-paying job, are happy because their lives are just fine,” Hamrick said.
Meanwhile, many Millennials are facing frustration with paying their dues as they advance in their careers. Almost one-third of Millennials say that managing their work, family, and personal responsibilities has become more difficult in the past five years.
“When we think about people being younger and being early in their careers, they typically aren’t earning as much,” Hamrick said. “Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can make being miserable a lot better. So you can obviously resolve a lot of life issues that come up with a better paying job and a more successful career.”
So older and more educated workers, who generally command larger salaries, and those in the highest income bracket are feeling the most fulfilled – although the happiness gap isn’t as wide as you’d think. Households earning more than $80,000 rated their jobs a 7.5 out of 10, on average, while those earning under $30,000 still gave their jobs a 6.6, only nine-tenths of a point less than those making twice as much money.
But here as well, work-life balance issues are leveling the emotional playing field. “While salary matters for employee satisfaction, Glassdoor Economic Research found the three leading workplace factors that impact satisfaction are culture and values, career opportunities and quality of senior leadership,” Sarah Stoddard, Glassdoor’s community expert, told Moneyish. “These attributes apply to employee satisfaction across different stages of people’s careers, so employers can help boost satisfaction by making company culture a priority, helping employees understand their potential career progression and encouraging leaders to be transparent with their workforce.”
And studies show that Millennial employees in particular are hungry for more than money. More than a third (35%) value a flexible schedule over pay. They want to be able to shop around for healthcare. And most are looking for jobs where they can “learn and grow,” according to Gallup research, so they’re not happy unless they’re in a position that keeps them engaged.
So what are the most satisfying jobs? Glassdoor’s Best Jobs in America for 2018 report scored corporate recruiter, reliability engineer, creative manager and compliance manager among the roles with the highest satisfaction scores. “It’s not surprising to see corporate recruiters at the top of the pack for job satisfaction, as they are uniquely positioned to help others find their own dream jobs,” said Stoddard.
PayScale’s 2017 survey of most satisfied workers had a different take. Those who found religion found the most fulfillment, with the clergy being named the happiest job with almost three-quarters (74.1%) of workers reporting they are satisfied – and that’s with a median salary of less than $50,000. Chief executives raking in more than $130,000 on average were a close second with a 74% satisfaction rate, followed by education directors, flight attendants and judges.
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