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Are there any standard surveys or questions that are useful for gauging software engineer or programmer job satisfaction? I hypothesize that determining software engineers' attitudes toward their jobs can reveal problems within an organization.

I'm thinking about questions such as the following:

  • Are you reaching your full potential?
  • Are you learning or improving skills that you could put on a resume?
  • Are your skills valued within the company?
  • Are your skills utilized?
  • Is your voice heard?
  • Do you have a mentor?
  • Are you satisfied with your supervisor's leadership?
  • Are you able to experiment and try new ideas?

Obviously the questions would need to be tweaked to get useful answers from a survey.

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closed as off topic by Mark Trapp Oct 28 '11 at 12:04

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This may be a good question for Professional Matters (Currently proposed in area 51) Please go and commit to supporting this SE –  Chad Oct 28 '11 at 13:53
FWIW I asked this question 8 months ago. –  M. Dudley Oct 28 '11 at 17:14

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

12 Questions to Measure Employee Engagement has some good questions for general job satisfaction that may be useful:

  • Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  • Do you have the materials and equipment you need to do your work right?
  • At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  • In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  • Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  • At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  • Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  • Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  • Do you have a best friend at work?
  • In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  • In the last year, have you had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

The list is from Gallup's research and Marcus Buckingham if you want to dig deeper into the source.

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I ran across this list in First, Break All The Rules. The key to understanding this list is that what matters is the first question you say "No" to. If you answer yes to every question but the first, you are much worse off than someone who says yes to the first two and no to the rest. –  btilly Feb 14 '11 at 17:47
This does seem like a good list of factors that influence job satisfcation. But how much each of those influences it is highly personal, I think. The weight people put on each of those items will probably vary a lot. –  Joachim Sauer Oct 28 '11 at 6:31

The only question I really think that matters:

What would make you leave your current job?

If the bar is low (and money alone is a pretty low bar), then the subject isn't very satisfied.

There a lot of barriers to leaving, like family responsibilities, geographic location, skill set, preferred colleagues, general fear or inertia, etc. So any survey would really have to address (control for) those to be realistic. But I don't know how you could do that with a five-point scale.

As an example, Zappos pays new employees to quit because anyone who takes The Offer isn't very committed to the company and it's good to know that up front.

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It may tell me employees are unhappy, but would asking this question provide actionable results? I'm looking for ways to identify specific problems that we could fix. –  M. Dudley Feb 14 '11 at 17:48

Why not just ask "Are you happy with your current Job?"

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This is a great question because it's so simple but it can elicit a lot of feedback. However it is very time consuming because the feedback is not structured. A good manager should be able to have this kind of conversation with his employees, but I don't think it's applicable to evaluation of a large team or company as a whole. –  M. Dudley Feb 14 '11 at 19:09
Some people may see that as a loaded question and give a fake answer of, "Yes boss," as they may believe their job is in jeopardy with any other answer. –  JB King Feb 14 '11 at 20:24
Anonymity certainly plays a role in obtaining candid feedback. –  M. Dudley Feb 15 '11 at 2:17

I think your bullet points could describe almost any office job. Personally I think job satisfaction has a great deal to do with the company you work for, what you do in the IT field, and who you are. For example, I like the company I work for, the people I work with, the work I do is different almost daily, the lack of physical activity doesn't bother me, and I actually do see some output of the items I work on (sometimes not daily, but fairly frequently). Programming isn't for everyone, so if you think you would be happier elsewhere, I'd say go for it. But understand that your experience with one company does not represent the whole industry. You know in college many computer sciences students have written dissertation on job satisfaction and its importance’s.

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