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Blog: The 7 sins of Job Satisfaction

4th July 2018 by microdec

As you put the phone down from delivering the good news, you smile. Your candidate, Lee, fits this role perfectly. You’ve made a great match. You’ve set in motion a happy, fulfilling, enduring relationship.

So, five weeks down the line, when your client calls to say Lee is leaving, it’s a big disappointment. Lee’s departure could reflect badly on you, not to mention cost you money. You’re pretty sure your matchmaking was spot on, so what’s caused this relationship breakdown?

Maybe it’s a hackneyed comparison, but recruitment can be like arranging a marriage; Once the wedding bells end and the contract is signed, everyday life can take a toll.

The foundations of job satisfaction
Over a lifetime we spend an average of 90,360 hours at work, so it stands to reason we want to enjoy it. Pay, fancy titles and exciting job descriptions might lure us in. But it’s satisfaction that keeps us there, day after day. Unfortunately job satisfaction, like marital contentment, is impossible to guarantee.

Let’s assume the foundations for Lee’s placement were strong: It was the right role, salary, distance from home. It was the right balance of intrinsic satisfaction (derived from the work itself) and extrinsic satisfaction (derived from the environment, culture, colleagues, job security and other benefits). Lee’s personal values appeared to align with the client’s corporate values.

On paper, the match looked great, so what went wrong? Why did Lee disengage? And how can your client prevent the same thing happening again?

Avoiding the seven deadly sins of job satisfaction
Like a happy marriage, job satisfaction requires give and take. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume Lee was acing it - working purposefully and conscientiously to a high standard, supporting his team and going the extra mile. Despite this, he quit. So what could his employer have been doing to bring Lee to this decision? Were they committing the seven deadly sins of job satisfaction?

  1. Bypassing skills: Ignoring or overlooking abilities is a fast track to employee disengagement, not to mention a waste of talent. Notice what people are good at and find ways to put their talents to use. The reward? Focused and productive staff who take pride in their work.
  2. Lack of purpose: Failing to explain the correlation between an individual’s work and the company’s goals can lead employees question their purpose in the workplace. Why are they doing this job? Inspire employees by showing how their work directly supports a greater outcome.
  3. No acknowledgement: Only saying anything when an employee makes a mistake or when allocating new tasks is demoralising. Praise achievements and good ideas so employees feel respected, valued and motivated.
  4. Secrecy: No-one likes being in the dark. A culture of constructive feedback and open communication encourages honesty and problem solving (creativity).
  5. Inequality: Finding out colleagues are being paid more for the same work is deflating. A fair, open and transparent pay scale creates a sense of equality and builds trust.
  6. Burn out: Sacrificing the rest of their life for work leaves employees exhausted and resentful. Give employees time and space to live healthy, balanced lives.
  7. Isolation: Does your employee have a ‘friend’ at work? Cultivate a warm, supportive environment where fun and socialising is encouraged.


According to psychologist and expert in marital stability, Professor John Gottman, happy marriages are grounded in simple kindness and generosity . Could these qualities also be the cornerstones of a workplace where staff feel comfortable, nurtured and able to be their ‘best selves’? A workplace, perhaps where staff just might want to stick around for significant anniversaries.

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