The Search for Job Satisfaction

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-12-02-2015, Volume 39, Issue 12
Pages: 10

Employers have work to do to improve job satisfaction and retain qualified workers.

Ask the question “How is work?” and you are likely to get a range of responses. The Society of Human Resource Management reports that in 2014 39% of US employees reported being “very satisfied” and 47% “somewhat satisfied” (1). According to another survey, less than half of US workers are satisfied with their jobs (2).

In the 2015 edition of Pharmaceutical Technology’s annual employment survey (3) the editors sampled opinions about the current job market and job satisfaction for workers in the bio/ pharmaceutical industry. Overall, respondents from all demographic segments gave generally positive opinions of the job market and job satisfaction, while expressing a desire to seek better career opportunities.

Male and female respondents reported similar responses to most questions, with a few notable differences. Male respondents dominated the corporate management and engineering job functions; more than half of the male respondents (55.1%) said they were in managerial roles, compared to 43.4% of females. Female respondents were younger and had less work experience than the male counterparts. Females held proportionally more Master’s degrees, but fewer doctorate degrees. Interestingly, more female respondents reported work experience outside of the bio/pharma industry; 40.6% said they worked for more than 10 years outside bio/pharma compared to 31.2% of the males reporting.

More male respondents (37.6%) said they were paid fairly compared to female respondents (32.3%); 23.3% of female respondents and 19.4% of male respondents said they were paid below market value, considering their level of expertise and responsibility. A slightly higher percentage of females (56.4%) versus males (53.1%) reported salary increases compared to 2014. More significant differences showed in responses by gender to questions about career development opportunities. Almost one-third (31.7%) of females disagreed with the statement “I experience no discrimination for any reason at my current company” compared to 17.4% of male respondents. Similarly, nearly one-quarter of females (23.8%) and 9.2% of males felt gender was a factor in determining or limiting their professional development at their current company.

Women were also less optimistic about opportunities for career advancement; a slightly larger percentage (58.7% female vs. 54.6% male) said they were likely to leave their job, given the opportunity. More than half of the women responding (53%) disagreed with “my company provides advanced training for employee professional growth,” compared to 37.8% of the men responding. In addition, 39.5% of women responding said they were less secure in their job than last year, compared to only 27.8% of men.


When asked to rate how 15 factors weigh in the decision to change jobs, a higher percentage of females compared to males selected “I would change jobs for this alone” across the board. In particular, females placed a higher priority on professional advancement, intellectual challenge, work/life balance, scientific opportunities, salary, and job security. The survey results show that despite some unhappiness at work, most employees plan to stay in their current positions. However, bio/ pharma companies have more work to do to if they want to improve employee job satisfaction and retain qualified workers.

1. Society of Human Resource Management, Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement (Alexandria, VA, 2015).
2. The Conference Board, The Conference Board Job Satisfaction Survey (New York, September 2015).
 3. 2015 Pharmaceutical Technology/Pharmaceutical Technology Europe Employment Survey.

Article DetailsPharmaceutical Technology
Vol. 39, No. 12
Page: 10

When referring to this article, please cite it as R. Peters, “The Search for Job Satisfaction,” Pharmaceutical Technology 39 (12) 2015.