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U.S. Workers' Satisfaction With Job Safety Rebounds

U.S. Workers' Satisfaction With Job Safety Rebounds

Story Highlights

  • 72% of U.S. workers "completely satisfied" with safety conditions, coworker relations
  • Employees least satisfied with amount of job stress, retirement plan, pay, benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One year after U.S. workers indicated significantly less satisfaction with the physical safety conditions of their workplace, their satisfaction has rebounded to its pre-pandemic level. Workplace safety and relations with coworkers are the two job aspects that U.S. employees are most satisfied with, of 13 tracked by Gallup.

Seventy-two percent of Americans who work full or part time say they are "completely satisfied" with both their safety on the job and their relationships with coworkers. Meanwhile, just 32% express the same level of satisfaction with the amount of work-related stress, earning it the bottom spot on the list.

These findings, from Gallup's Aug. 2-17 poll, mark the 22nd year of tracking workers' satisfaction with various dimensions of their work life.

Satisfaction With Job Safety

Workers' satisfaction with safety on the job has frequently ranked at the top of the list of 13 job aspects since 1999. Last year, however, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the percentage of workers expressing complete satisfaction with it dropped nine percentage points to 65%, the lowest point since 2001. The latest seven-point uptick puts it back in line with findings from 2018 and 2019.

Line graph. Percentage of U.S. workers who are completely satisfied with the physical safety conditions of their workplace since 1999. The current 72% is up from 65% and in line with the 2018 and 2019 readings.

While the pandemic is ongoing and cases are once again surging as a result of the highly contagious delta variant, unlike a year ago, there are now COVID-19 vaccines available -- and workplaces are increasingly mandating vaccination. Recent Gallup data show 56% of Americans favor companies requiring employees to show proof of vaccination at their office or work site.

Gallup polling has found that white-collar workers are far more likely than blue-collar workers to say they are working remotely and thereby avoiding potential exposure to COVID-19. Last year, several demographic subgroups that are more likely to include blue-collar workers -- men, those with lower incomes, non-White employees and those without a college degree -- showed the largest declines in satisfaction with workplace safety. Though satisfaction figures among these traditionally blue-collar groups have ticked up since last year, most are not back to the levels recorded in 2019.

U.S. Workers' Satisfaction With Safety Conditions, 2019-2021
% Completely satisfied
2019 2020 2021 2020-2021 change
% % % pct. pts.
U.S. workers 74 65 72 +7
Men 79 65 70 +5
Women 68 65 75 +10
White workers 78 69 74 +5
Non-White workers 67 59 68 +9
College degree 71 71 73 +2
No college degree 77 61 72 +11
Annual household income
Less than $75,000 72 55 67 +12
$75,000 or more 78 73 76 +3

Coworker Relations Ties With Safety for Highest Satisfaction Rating

Aside from the change in satisfaction with physical safety at work, employees' satisfaction levels have not changed significantly since last year, and the overall rank order has been generally stable over the past few years.

Majorities of workers are completely satisfied with six other job dimensions in addition to physical safety at work and relations with coworkers. These include job security (67%), flexibility of hours (65%), boss or supervisor (63%), workload (55%), amount of vacation time (52%) and recognition received for accomplishments (52%).

On the other end of the spectrum, along with work-related stress, less than half of workers are completely satisfied with the retirement plan offered by their employer (38%), the money they earn (38%), their chances for promotion (42%) and their health insurance benefits (45%). Still, taking into account the percentage of workers who say they are "somewhat satisfied," each combined measure rises to at least 67%.

U.S. Workers' Satisfaction With Various Job Aspects
Now, I'll read a list of job characteristics. For each, please tell me how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with your current job in this regard. Are you completely satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied or completely dissatisfied with [RANDOM ORDER]?
Completely satisfied Somewhat satisfied Total satisfied
% % %
Your relations with coworkers 72 23 95
The physical safety conditions of your workplace 72 20 92
Your job security 67 25 92
The flexibility of your hours 65 22 87
Your boss or immediate supervisor 63 25 88
The amount of work that is required of you 55 30 85
The recognition you receive for work accomplishments 52 29 81
The amount of vacation time you receive 52 26 78
The health insurance benefits your employer offers 45 22 67
Your chances for promotion 42 28 70
The amount of money you earn 38 37 75
The retirement plan your employer offers 38 29 67
The amount of on-the-job stress 32 36 68
Gallup, Aug. 2-17, 2021

Bottom Line

Although COVID-19 cases are much higher than they were one year ago, American workers are currently more satisfied with their physical safety while at work than they were then. This is likely because of the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. Increasing numbers of employers across the U.S. are mandating vaccines or requiring regular COVID-19 testing to ensure their employees have the safest working environment.

While U.S. workers are broadly satisfied with their workplace safety, relations with coworkers, job security, boss, flexibility in hours, workload, recognition and vacation time, there is still significant room for employers to help improve their employees' stress levels and their pay, benefits and chances for promotion.

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