With social media today, especially through websites like LinkedIn, you get a glimpse of the various backgrounds and careers of many contacts that you made during your working life. With their backgrounds and timelines featured on these sites, you note that some have worked in a single place all their lives, while others have changed companies every 2 to 3 years. One has to ask in reviewing their background, why did they leave their previous position? What was about the job that seem like a good opportunity, that made you move on?

First let us look at three factors that determine satisfaction with your work situation, the company, your boss, and your personal goals.

With the company, the first thing that comes to mind is its name and reputation. Is it respected in the industry that it is in? Google and Apple are the big names in tech. Merck and Pfizer are the big names in pharmaceuticals. Mercedes and Volvo are respected names in Auto. Allstate and GEICO are the most prevalent names in insurance. So what makes for a good company beyond its name? Factors to be considered: clear mission statement, strong corporate governance and ethics, solid performer in the industry, good support system and strong working culture with respected peers. Pride in the company is important for you to be an effective employee for you are the face of the company. Good companies are transparent of what they are doing and how they are performing. Another characteristic is that they care enough of their employees by offering good benefits such as health and a matching 401K plan. If you work for a public company, how is it view by the market? Performance and public perception is reflected in its stock price.

Second is your manager. One of the biggest reasons why people leave their jobs is because of the person that they work for. In defense of managers to start off with, people who are put in these positions are never formally trained to manage people. It is a position that requires empathy and emotional intelligence, which last time I checked, is not tested for when one is being considered for promotion. Usually promotions are handed down because you are the most qualified of all the applicants that have demonstrated great ability to do your current job and projected to do the next level job successfully. In a lot of cases if you are favorably viewed by upper management, you would be a front-runner in getting the position regardless of whether you can be a good manager or not.

There are managers that are a natural in motivating and getting the most out of their direct reports while there are others that are not. Usually the “inferior” manager will be more concerned about how they are perceived by upper management and will work to build positive perception rather than maximize the performance of the group. This type of manager also will be the type to “throw people under the bus” to deflect any wrongdoing on their part.

The other major issue that inferior managers are guilty of is not holding bad performers accountable. In a group setting, it is not unreasonable to expect that everyone is carrying their weight and compensated accordingly. It is not unusual to have a disparity in performers that are not up to par. The biggest sin that can happen is when the manager does not take action in correcting this. If it is not, then unfairness comes into play and sometimes there is an imbalance in workload because the manager shifts the essential work to performers and lets the non-performer slide. This is doubly worse when the non-performer is not acted on and gets the same compensation as the performer. This is an ingredient for dissatisfaction.

The third and last factor is your personal situation. Many factors come into play in determining what keeps an employee happy. Employees must feel that they are equitably compensated for their job based on performance and experience. A motivated employee should feel that they are contributing to the goals of the group and the company. Opportunities must exist for upward movement and not let the individual feel stagnant in their position.

Other factors that may come into play are work location, drive to get more education, or shifting life goals.

With work location being closer to family is a strong motivator for moving or keeping you at your current position. It is not unusual that one would give up the opportunity to gain higher compensation if it means that they would have to relocate away from your family. Perhaps your priority is more in emphasizing family rather than advance your career.

It is not unusual for someone to leave their job to pursue more education. They may see a need for more education (whether getting a bachelors or pursing a Ph.D) as they see a need to position themselves better for the future. In one instance, after working as a developmental chemist in a lab for 3 years, the individual left the company to pursue a MD degree.

Some may decide that working for someone is not in the cards for themselves and decides to take a bold step and start their own business. They are motivated in building a business for themselves. This could be bred into them if they come from a family that had their own business. It could be frustration from having to work for bad bosses and decide that being on their own is better.

Lastly, some are always looking for better opportunity. It is the “proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow” chasers. They are the ones that are never fully satisfied no matter what the job brings. At some point, they would have to come to grips as to what they want out of their working life.

So the company that you are employed in, the boss that you work for, and your personal situation are all 3 factors that work symbiotically to determine your job satisfaction.