A Great Place to Work

I believe the City of Albany is a great place to work, although I am sure there are differing opinions on the subject.  Job satisfaction has been widely studied over the past century, and there are a number of theories about why some people are happy in their jobs while others are not.  Some common themes run through job-satisfaction literature.

Relationships to supervisors and coworkers play a critical role in our attitudes toward the workplace.  It makes sense to me that if you like the people you work with every day, you are going to have a better perspective than if your colleagues are disagreeable, untrustworthy, incompetent, and/or unkind.  I remember working for a difficult employer many years ago where my relationships with my fellow employees were so good that I stayed with the job and generally enjoyed it.  I’m sure one of the reasons I enjoy working for the City of Albany is the quality of the people I work with every day.  I have been privileged to work for some excellent elected officials through the years, and I think our current mayor and council are among the best.  I think they stopped reading my blogs some time ago, however; so my shameless, albeit accurate, pandering may be wasted.

No matter how much I enjoy my colleagues, it’s safe to say I would not show up to work every day if I wasn’t getting paid.  Salary and benefits are important reasons why people choose to work where they do, a fact that should come as no great surprise to anyone.  Our organization offers an attractive compensation package by almost any standard, which explains why we are generally able to attract good people to fill job openings and our turnover rate is relatively small.

The dispositional theory of job satisfaction concludes that one of the major factors affecting our view of our jobs is our individual disposition.  I remember reading a news story some years ago about a postal worker who never took a vacation in over 30 years with the organization.  He just gave up years of vacation over the course of his employment; and when asked why he did it, his response was that he enjoyed his job so much he had no reason to take vacations.  I am sure this worker’s attitude toward his employer had as much to do with values he brought to the job as with his actual working conditions.  I would guess most of the people who work for the City of Albany were raised with and believe in similar values, even though we may not be willing to give up our vacations.

Finally, almost all job satisfaction research suggests that people need some form of “enrichment” from their work.  Solving problems, learning new things, or generally having a sense they are making a contribution to something important are key reasons why people report satisfaction with their jobs.  I believe most city jobs offer these intangible rewards in one form or another.

No employer fulfills everything we might want from a job.  The test I use for myself is to ask the question, “Am I as happy about my job today as I was when I was told I was hired?”  My answer is “yes,” and I hope that’s true for all city employees.