Monday, January 18, 2010

Trading and Job Satisfaction

A recent poll shows that job satisfaction among U.S. workers has fallen to a record low, with only 45% of workers expressing satisfaction. Research suggests that, for both men and women, compensation is positively correlated with satisfaction, but that it takes more in the way of compensation to generate satisfaction for men than women.

Interestingly, many of the jobs that are associated with the highest satisfaction levels are helping professions, including clergy, firefighters, physical therapists, teachers, and psychologists. Also reporting high satisfaction are those in creative fields: painters and sculptors. Jobs yielding the lowest rates of satisfaction include many labor and service fields, such as general labor, retail store sales, food preparation, roofing, cashier work, and freight/stock handling.

We also see that job satisfaction has declined for all age groups since 1987. Particularly notable drops have been seen among those under age 25 and those over age 65. It is likely that the poor economy is contributing to some of the recent decline in satisfaction, with fewer alternatives for young workers and more older workers needing to remain in the workforce to make ends meet.

Among the factors that I find go into job satisfaction for traders are:

1) Perceived independence of working for oneself;

2) Possibility of large financial rewards;

3) Competitive challenge;

4) Teamwork and continuous growth/learning;

The most common sources of job dissatisfaction I hear from traders are:

1) Frustration in sustaining a solid income;

2) Lack of job security, benefits;

3) Isolation, especially for those trading outside of firms;

4) Frustration with one's trading firm, its policies and personnel.

Research questions whether satisfied workers are necessarily productive ones. It appears that the link between satisfaction and productivity is highest among occupations that involve complex work. My experience with traders is that satisfaction is indeed positively correlated with the effort that traders put into their learning and preparation. When trading generates experiences of self-efficacy, growth, and development, traders are most likely to sustain high levels of motivation and take the steps needed to push their learning curves.