Content at the wheel

| February 01, 2006

“In all cases, the drivers that I find are the happiest are those who feel a passion about their commitment.”

Be proud of what you do
As drivers you help others every day of the week. So let it show. If the public perceives you as someone who helps others, they will hold you in higher prestige. And that is a significant ingredient in job satisfaction.

The University of Michigan found in a 2004 study that the most satisfied workers were those who felt they had a positive impact on others. This was so much the case with many firefighters that they reported they wished they could fight more fires.

A Harris Poll measuring job prestige that was released in summer 2005 found four occupations are perceived to have “very great” prestige by at least half of all adults – firefighters, scientists, doctors and nurses. Three professions are perceived to have “very great” prestige by 40 percent or more but less than 50 percent – military officers, teachers and police officers.

Making money doesn’t win people prestige (business executives and stockbrokers were in the bottom half of the Harris Poll’s list), and fame doesn’t bring prestige (entertainers and actors were also in the bottom half of the list). What is prestige? The Harris Poll says simply, “It’s about helping others.”

“Helping others is what truckers do,” says Youngblood, “but most of the public doesn’t know that. There’s an irony here. A lot of drivers feel badly that the public doesn’t like them, and that eats away at job satisfaction. Yet they are doing the one thing that the public does respect people for – helping other people.”

The Society for Human Resource Management has published a report of a survey done in conjunction with USATODAY.com talking to both Human Resources Departments and employees. The HR folk say that communications between employee and management would be the No. 1 choice of employees asked about their overall job satisfaction. But the employees’ No. 1 choice was job security.

Interestingly, the survey found that people in human resources departments, when assessing job satisfaction, appeared to put more emphasis on the “interactions that employees have with management, immediate supervisors and co-workers” than the workers did. And when they did this, they risked overlooking “just how important aspects such as employee autonomy and independence, work/life balance and the work itself is to employees.”

The survey eventually concluded that HR people were aware that employees are satisfied with the jobs but not clear on precisely why this is so.

The final conclusion of the survey found that age is a factor in job satisfaction. “Career advancement is considerably more important for employees 35 and under compared to older employees. Job security is ‘very important’ to employees 36-55 more so than other age categories, while for employees 56 and over benefits took precedence. In terms of overall job satisfaction, employees 36-55 were most content, 80 percent were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their jobs, followed by employees in the 56 and above age range. The youngest employees also appear to be the least satisfied.”

What does this mean for driver job satisfaction? The survey suggests that what you are looking for to raise your level of job satisfaction may not always be what your carrier thinks you are looking for. This could lead to a company making what they consider an excellent job offer when you would rather have a different offer. Bottom line: Ask questions of a carrier and let them know what is really important to your job satisfaction.

Another study, this one in the Journal of Vocational Behavior in December 2001, looked at the perception drivers had of their relationship between themselves and the job, and themselves and their carrier, talking to 104 office personnel and 127 drivers.

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