Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business

Science Matters: Survey Reveals Employee Satisfaction Criteria

For the fourth consecutive year, the annual Lab Manager Magazine - Kelly Scientific Resources® Salary & Employee Satisfaction Survey revealed valuable and interesting findings that can assist managers and their employees in improving efficiency and morale.

by Alan Edwards

For the fourth consecutive year, the annual Lab Manager Magazine - Kelly Scientific Resources® Salary & Employee Satisfaction Survey revealed valuable and interesting findings that can assist managers and their employees in improving efficiency and morale.

This year’s survey revealed that employee satisfaction is slightly lower today than it was in 2009. According to the findings, 70 percent of respondents currently feel valued at their organizations, compared with 79 percent of last year’s respondents. This drop in morale is likely due to the negative impact the recent economic recession has had on budgets, employee satisfaction and management stress levels.

Yet there is certainly a light at the end of the tunnel. Research and development, product implementation, and hiring are increasing in organizations across the country, likely due to government stimulus bills that have been passed in recent months.

Three criteria for job-satisfaction

A majority of science professionals looking to advance their careers are focused on three specific organizational or career criteria. First, they hope to perform meaningful work, within reputable organizations, that positively impacts society as a whole. Second, scientists desire an effective work-life balance, so that they are able to fully concentrate on their daily business objectives but also have time to relax with family and friends. Finally, researchers are looking for opportunities to expand their skills in order to succeed in the future.

While salary is definitely an important factor in most scientists’ career goals and decisions, a good many are also focused on the nature of the work they do and its value to society and human health.

A desire to positively impact society

Undoubtedly, the recent economic recession has had a detrimental impact on the lives of scientists all over the world. From pay reductions and layoffs to profit losses and budget shortages, both managers and employees have been negatively affected by the recession.

However, one aspect of scientists’ lives has been unaffected by the economic downturn: the desire to be involved in meaningful research, perform analytical testing and clinical research, and produce and sell high-quality products that have a positive impact on society.

According to the survey, 82 percent of respondents want to work for organizations that serve society through their ongoing research projects and product implementations. This same group also believes that those organizations are highly respected for the products and services they provide to their customers.

Adequate work-life balance

Many research professionals are being asked to multitask on a daily basis. In addition to their own job responsibilities, they are also performing the duties of former colleagues who may have been displaced during the recession. This is creating an even greater need for a proper balance between work and home.

Interestingly, according to the survey, 64 percent of respondents are currently pleased with their work-life balance, compared to 78 percent in 2009. These latest numbers will likely increase during the coming months as more and more organizations regain financial stability and begin to hire new contract and full-time employees.

Also, only 49 percent of survey respondents believe their organization’s present staffing levels are adequate to provide high-quality products and services to customers, compared to 61 percent who felt that way last year. At the same time, 61 percent of the survey respondents are currently pleased with the amount of information, equipment and resources their organizations provide them—much lower than last year’s results, as 78 percent formerly believed their organizations provided adequate resources.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (92 percent) stated that a proper balance between work and personal life is very important to them. In fact, worklife balance may be the deciding factor for those choosing whether to remain at their current organizations or look for new opportunities elsewhere. Although a majority of surveyed employees feel valued at their organizations (70 percent), more employees might feel highly valued if they were given more flexibility. Quite simply, adequate work-life balance will likely help employees lower their stress levels so that they are better able to perform to the best of their abilities in the future.

Training programs

The survey also found that 49 percent of respondents believe their organizations provide ample and satisfactory training opportunities to new employees. Unfortunately, training programs do not appear to improve as employees acquire more work experience, as only 48 percent of respondents feel their organizations provide effective ongoing training.

It is also apparent that today’s scientists generally want more training but are unsure of where it will actually come from. Currently, only 21 percent of respondents are planning to go back to school to obtain their next degrees. In addition, 51 percent are preparing to attain additional on-the-job training on their own, without assistance from their employers.

Of interest, 94 percent of the respondents said they feel adequately trained for their current positions, but only 68 percent believe they are ready for the jobs they may acquire in the future. Why are these statistics so important? What type of impact can training opportunities possibly have on science professionals, both inside and outside the lab? In short, training programs may indeed impact the work-life balance of employees, which, as discussed earlier, tends to lead to either low or high employee morale.

According to the survey, only 34 percent of all respondents believe their organizations provide training programs to help them improve their current work-life balance. By offering a variety of training programs within their organizations, employers will ensure improved on-the-job performance; a more adequate employee work-life balance; and, consequently, much higher levels of employee morale. Managers can continue to improve employee morale by providing opportunities to conduct meaningful research and to create innovative products. In addition, an adequate work-life balance, as well as a wide array of effective training programs, will ensure that employee morale will remain high in the future.