Weekend Poll Results: Career Satisfaction in 2017

Assistants typically focus on others’ needs, and ensuring their satisfaction. Last weekend, for the second consecutive year, I turned the lens around to explore how things are working out for you. Our focus:

How satisfied with your career are you at this point in time?

Compensation packages: A full 16% of respondents gave the highest possible rating to this question, for the second consecutive year. In fact, 40% of you were able to assign either a four or five rating. That’s good, except that it represents a 6% decline from last year.

At the same time, the percentage of readers at the other end of the scale increased from 2016. 35% of readers gave either a one or two out of five rating, compared to 22.5% last year.

Work-life balance: Here, we saw a 5% jump in the percentage of respondents who could rate their satisfaction at four or five. As with my 2016 poll on the topic, more than a quarter of you (28%) appear to be struggling to maintain a good sense of balance between work and personal lives.

Career mobility: Last year, 42% of you gave a four or five rating. This year, only 30% of respondents had such comfort levels. At the other end of the spectrum, a lower percentage of you gave ratings of one or two. In between, twice as any people this year gave a three out of five rating.

Are you finding your workplace culture impacted by harassment news? While just over a quarter of you were able to give a four or five rating, that’s a 13% decline from 2016. At the other end of the scale, 42% of readers gave a rating of one or two; that’s less than a 2% increase from last year. Check the data below to see what one reader said about a drop in rating, with people looking over their shoulders.

Assistants are feeling less valued than last year – Ouch! Last year, almost 50% of respondents gave a four or higher rating on this front. This year, only 31% had such confidence. I think it would be interesting to know what’s driving declines in comfort, and how much of it has to do with workplace culture as opposed to evolving roles, the progression of AI in the office, or other factors.

 

If you’re unhappy, what are you going to do about it?

Some factors are beyond an individual’s control, and it’s understandable that circumstances can have an impact on how you feel at a given point in time. However, I thought it would be interesting to see if low ratings would translate to action, or to riding out a situation. With that in mind, I asked readers who gave ratings of two or lower for the majority of the questions to pick one of four options to describe how they were responding to their situation.

The upshot: 14% of those who assigned low ratings are staying put. More than two thirds, though, said they’re either actively or casually watching for a new opportunity. Another 19% are proactively working on certification/education in order to improve their prospects/satisfaction.

How else to achieve the career satisfaction thumbs up?

Determine what you want from your professional life. Be proactive: find your voice, secure training, get certified, and network. These are among readers’ suggestions you’ll find below – along with encouragement to respect and believe in yourself.

 

 THE DATA: YOUR RESPONSES

Note: Information below reflects the percentage of respondents who selected specific responses from multiple choice options.  In instances where more than one person offers similar responses to an open ended question, I typically cluster or paraphrase such responses rather than duplicating all of them.

On a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied; something’s got to give) to 5 (couldn’t be happier), how satisfied are you with your compensation package?

  • 16%: 5/5 (couldn’t be happier), unchanged from 2016
  • 24%: 4/5, compared to 29% of respondents in 2016
  • 24%: 3/5, compared to 22.5% in 2016
  • 24% :  2/5, compared to 22.5% in 2015
  • 11%: 1/5 (very dissatisfied; I’ve got to make some changes), compared to 10% in 2016
  • 3% of this year’s respondents selected “Other”. One person reported currently being unemployed; let’s hope that situation soon changes.

 

On the same scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with your work-life balance?

  • 19%: 5/5 (couldn’t be happier), up from 14% of respondents in 2016
  • 31%: 4/5, unchanged from 31% in 2016
  • 19%:  3/5, compared to 28% in 2016
  • 16%: 2/5, compared to 10% in 2016
  • 12%: 1/5 (very dissatisfied; I have to make some changes), down from 17% in 2016
  • 3% of this year’s respondents selected “Other”, again reflecting unemployment

On the same scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with your career mobility?

  • 12%: 5/5 (couldn’t be happier), compared to 7% of respondents in 2016
  • 18%: 4/5, compared to 35% in 2016
  • 30%: 3/5, compared to 14% in 2016
  • 24%: 2/5, compared to 24% in 2016
  • 12%: 1/5 (very dissatisfied; I have to make some changes), compared to 17% in 2016
  • 3% selected “Other”, reflecting current unemployment

On the same scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with the culture of your workplace?

  • 9%: 5/5 (couldn’t be happier), compared to 20% of respondents in 2016
  • 18%: 4/5, compared to 23.33% in 2016
  • 26% : 3/5, compared to 23.33% in 2016
  • 18%: 2/5, compared to 17% in 2016
  • 24%: 1/5 (very dissatisfied; I have to make some changes), compared to 23.33% in 2016
  • 5% selected “Other”, compared to 3% last year. One comment reflected current employment status; another reader noted that, “Was a 5, but now everyone looking over shoulder as harassment news heightened”.

On the same scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you that your contributions are valued?

  • 6%: 5/5 (couldn’t be happier), compared to 14% of respondents in 2016
  • 25%: 4/5, compared to 35% in 2016
  • 34% : 3/5, compared to 24% in 2016
  • 16%: 2/5, compared to 10% in 2016
  • 16%: 1/5 (very dissatisfied; I have to make some changes), compared to 14% in 2016
  • 3% selected “Other” and noted current unemployment status

 

I asked readers who gave ratings of 2 or lower for more than one of the questions to pick which of the following best describes their situation. Remember, these percentages are reflective only of participants who gave low ratings to the majority of the questions above.

  • 33.33%: I am keeping a casual eye out for other opportunities
  • 33.33%: I am actively searching for a new opportunity
  • 19.05%: I am working on certification/education to try to improve my career prospects/satisfaction
  • 14.29%:  I will stay put

 

Lastly, I asked those readers who were able to give ratings of 4 or 5 for most of the questions to give some recommendations to support such a happy state. Here’s what these readers had to say.

  • Determine what you want from your professional life
  • Plan your training
  • Network/get networked
  • Get certified. Get networked. Leads to professional confidence. Lead(s) to changes.
  • If dissatisfied, check what you can do to change things. Be proactive.
  • Find your voice, ask for what you want, respect and believe in yourself. If not, leave.

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