Workload and job satisfaction

12th March 2012

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The IEMA practitioners' survey 2012 reveals environmental professionals' workloads and how happy they are in their roles

The majority of environment professionals are happy in their work – more than two-thirds (68.2%) are either satisfied or very satisfied in their roles. According to their feedback, this contentment is due mainly to intrinsic factors associated with respondents’ employment, such as enjoying the interesting and challenging nature of their work, being able to make a difference in their organisation or community, and having a varied role at work.

Of the 1,209 respondents providing details of job satisfaction, 36% say they enjoy their work and/or they find it challenging, and/or interesting. A quarter report the source of their satisfaction as being able to make a difference in their organisation or community. Only 3% said that good pay and benefits gave them a high degree of job satisfaction.

Some respondents who are not happy in their jobs provided anecdotal feedback on why this is the case. Reasons are many and varied, but a key one is a lack of development potential in their role. This was reported by 23% of those providing feedback. Most of the other main factors contributing to an absence of job satisfaction relate to organisational issues such as perceived poor management, a lack of strategic direction, too much pressure and a lack of financial resources. In 17% of cases, dissatisfaction is due to a perceived lack of commitment by the organisation to the environment.

Survey respondents were also asked if they had experienced any changes to their workload over the course of 2011, in respect of its scope and variety and the amount of work they were expected to complete. As figures 9 and 10 (below) show, almost two-thirds of members report an increase in the scope and variety (65.3%), and/or quantity (63.9%) of their workload in 2011.

The first type of change – more varied work – could have a positive impact on the quality of an individual’s working life, given that one of the main factors contributing to respondents’ job satisfaction is the interesting and challenging nature of their work. It is less likely that the second type of change – an increase in the amount of work – has the potential to have a similarly positive impact on environment professionals’ job satisfaction levels.

As figure 11 (below) shows, more than one-third of respondents (35.8%) report a rise in the number of hours worked in 2011. Examination of the feedback supplied by the 291 respondents giving reasons for their dissatisfaction at work reveals that 17% are unhappy due to having too much work and/ or insufficient time to complete their work, while 12% state that a lack of resources is the reason for their dissatisfaction.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that in 2011 full-time employees in the UK worked some of the longest hours in Europe, working an average of 42.7 hours a week, compared with the EU average of 37.4 hours. The ONS data also reveal that, on average, managers and senior officials in the UK have a total working week of 46.2 hours.

Bigger workloads and longer hours can increase the potential for an individual to experience stress at work. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s 2011 annual sickness absence survey found that stress, for the first time, is the most common cause of long-term sickness absence across the UK workforce. There was a particular increase in stress-related absence among public sector organisations.

Read the full survey results:

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