EY Jobs Survey 2016 – Focus on satisfaction and motivation

50-plus generation the most committed employees – younger staff harder to motivate

  • Share

Job satisfaction highest among women / Swiss workers view good relationships with colleagues as more important than salary / Satisfaction with work and salary lowest in the real estate sector / Staff in trade associations and the public sector are more satisfied than in the private sector.

Zurich, 17 March 2016 – Young employees aged 21 to 30 are apparently more difficult to motivate than older staff: only 20% describe themselves as highly motivated. They therefore need to be managed more closely and differently than the 60-plus generation. The job survey revealed that 52% of employees over 61 say they are highly motivated in their work – the highest ratio for any age group. In fact, staff over 61 are happier and more motivated in their jobs than their younger colleagues across the board. The second most-motivated age group are 51 to 60-year-olds (43% highly motivated). Women also have higher satisfaction and motivation scores that are significantly above those of their male colleagues. These results highlight that companies can do far more to exploit the existing potential within the labor force as they continue to struggle with a shortage of qualified staff.

More than 4 out of every 5 employees over 61 (82%) and just over two thirds of employees between 51 and 60 (67%) state that they are completely satisfied with their jobs – a higher proportion than in any other age group. On average, 61% of all employees are completely satisfied. With 68% of female respondents stating complete job satisfaction, women are also above this average – which means they are much happier in their jobs than men (55%).

A similar picture presents itself with regard to motivation, where just over a third of all employees (36%) describe themselves as highly motivated. Here too, women are above average and ahead of men: 38% of female employees claim they go to work with a high level of motivation, while for men, the comparable figure is only 34%. These are some of the results of the EY Jobs Survey 2016, which this month conducted a survey of 1,000 employees in Switzerland.

“The very low motivation of younger employees is a cause for alarm,” says Dr. Barbara Aeschlimann, Head of HR at EY Switzerland. “Companies have to become better at responding to the changing needs and expectations of the younger generation and start adapting to the working world of the future. This means more flexibility, both in terms of working hours and location, greater openness to individual life plans and less rigid structures. Managers are needed who see their role less as that of a traditional boss and more as a mentor. Young employees want help and guidance from their managers in navigating the increasingly complex working world. The freedom to shape their lives in the way they want – in their jobs, family lives and leisure time – is becoming more and more important to them.”

At the same time, it is important to leverage the high motivation levels of older employees: “Companies need to recognize their potential and use it effectively. In many companies, employees over 50 are often just gradually eased into retirement. But many remain highly productive until their old age – and are also highly motivated, as this latest survey shows. Their experience is an extremely valuable asset for companies, and on top of this they are usually very responsible and reliable.”

Aeschlimann also believes companies should do more to realize the potential of their female employees. “Women work just as hard and deliver the same results as men, and they are apparently more committed in their work. In spite of this, their career opportunities are not as good and they  still receive less pay on average. Companies have a responsibility to reward this commitment with improved promotion prospects. If more women reach management positions, companies also stand to benefit: as is now well known, mixed teams – whether in development, production or management – work better.”

Good relationships with colleagues the most important motivation
Having good relationships with colleagues is the most important motivation for employees in Switzerland, with 56% of respondents citing this as their main motivation – women with a score of 55%, just as much as men (56%). Making up the other top three motivations are, in second place, interesting and challenging work, which is most important for 55% of respondents, with women attributing slightly greater importance to this issue (56%) than men (54%). With a score of 35%, the third most important motivation are attractive working hours (men 35%, women 34%). A high salary only comes in fourth place, representing an important motivation for less than a third of respondents – with men attaching a marginally higher level of importance to this issue (30%) than women (29%).

Job satisfaction highest in trade associations
Employees in trade associations evidently gain the most enjoyment out of their work – 76% of them claimed to be content with their jobs. Job satisfaction is therefore higher than in the public sector (64%) and much higher than in the private sector (59%). At 42%, the proportion of highly motivated staff is also higher in the trade associations than in the other segments, where around one third of employees (private sector 37%, public sector 32%) say they are highly motivated. Trade association staff are also the happiest with their pay, where 57% are satisfied with what they are paid, compared with 54% of staff in the public sector and only 49% in the private sector.

High earners the most motivated
Money does appear to buy happiness up to a certain point: more than half of employees (52%) who earn more than CHF 150,000 per annum told the survey that they are highly motivated. They are followed by the CHF 100,000 to 150,000 salary band where 51% of staff are highly motivated and the CHF 81,000 to 100,000 band at 49%. Motivation is significantly lower in the CHF 61,000 to 80,000 and CHF 41,000 to 60,000 salary bands (33% and 32%).

“Higher-earning employees are paid well – but they usually have to work hard for it,” says Barbara Aeschlimann. “They are often people who are by their nature highly motivated or have to motivate others in their jobs and have a higher level of responsibility. These employees have therefore already achieved a lot in their professional lives. However, they are usually also ambitious. Reaching the next level is a further motivation for them.”

Employees with an income of over CHF 150,000 are way out in front in terms of job satisfaction: 83% describe themselves as completely satisfied. However, it is interesting to note that at the highest income levels of over CHF 200,000, the proportion who are completely satisfied declines slightly to 73%. The least contented employees are not the lowest income categories but, as already mentioned, the middle income categories of CHF 41,000 to 60,000 and CHF 61,000 to 80,000 (completely satisfied: 55% and 56%). Among low earners with an annual income of under CHF 20,000, 64% are satisfied with their jobs.

“Work is fulfilling if an employee’s efforts are recognized and the employee believes they’re making a real contribution,” says Aeschlimann. “Employees don’t necessarily need a high salary for this. Satisfaction actually tends to decline at the highest salary levels, which probably reflects performance pressure at this level. The atmosphere at work and the nature of one’s work can be just as fulfilling, if not more. Dissatisfaction is highest in the medium salary categories, and there is the biggest scope for improvement here – including for employers.”

Employees in Life Sciences contented – less so in the consumer goods industry
Turning to the industry level, the Pharmaceutical/Biotech/Life Sciences sector tops the list in terms of job satisfaction, with 88% of those surveyed in this sector saying that they are completely satisfied with their work. This result puts them well ahead of agriculture and forestry (72%) and providers of business services such as market research companies and consultants (71%).

When it comes to satisfaction with salary and motivation, Pharma/Biotech/Life Sciences no longer lead the field but remain near the top: 48% of employees in the sector describe themselves as highly motivated and 52% are satisfied with their salary. Telecommunications and IT take the top spot in terms of satisfaction with salary (66%) while the machinery and engineering industry leads the way on motivation with a score of 55%.

Banks and insurance companies do less well in the survey. Only 33% of bank employees and 45% of insurance employees are satisfied with their jobs, while the real estate sector takes last place in the ranking with 27%.

It is a similar story for motivation. Just 20% of bank staff and 23% of insurance staff describe themselves as highly motivated, although they manage to stay just ahead of the real estate sector (18%). The consumer goods industry brings up the rear with a mere 12% of its staff highly motivated.
The cutbacks in the financial sector have left their mark: just 43% of bank staff are satisfied with their salary, while once again the real estate sector is at the bottom of the pack with 27% satisfaction.

“A number of sectors are seeing fierce competition and unrelenting pressure for change, driven by repeated waves of consolidation and restructuring. The stress associated with this is a possible explanation for the low satisfaction level of employees. The financial sector in particular – which should be noted is of central economic importance for Switzerland – has been undergoing a process of permanent change for years,” explains Barbara Aeschlimann.


About the global EY organization
The global EY organization is a leader in assurance, tax, transaction, legal and advisory services. We leverage our experience, knowledge and services to help build trust and confidence in the financial markets and in economies all over the world. We are ideally equipped for this task – with well trained employees, strong teams, excellent services and outstanding client relations. Our global mission is to drive progress and make a difference by building a better working world – for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

The global EY organization refers to all member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited (EYG). Each EYG member firm is a separate legal entity and has no liability for another such entity’s acts or omissions. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information, please visit www.ey.com.

EY’s organization is represented in Switzerland by Ernst & Young Ltd, Basel, with ten offices across Switzerland, and in Liechtenstein by Ernst & Young AG, Vaduz. In this publication, “EY” and “we” refer to Ernst & Young Ltd, Basel, a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.