In only two years, the number of employees who say feeling safe at work is a priority to their job satisfaction has jumped 28 percent.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and CNN’s Job Satisfaction Survey released April 29, 62 percent of employees report feeling safe at work is “very important” compared with 36 percent in 2002.

SHRM and CNN have conducted a series of surveys to discover what is important to employee satisfaction. The survey questions were emailed to randomly selected SHRM members, yielding 429 responses from human resource professionals, and randomly selected employees in the United States, yielding 604 responses. The human resource professionals reported their perceptions of employee satisfaction while the employee sample reported their own satisfaction. The findings are compared with previous surveys in the series to examine trends and shifts over the last two years.

“Terrorist warnings in the U.S. and the wars in the Middle East have put employees’ concerns for safety at the forefront,” said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of SHRM. “Employers need to be keyed into what’s important to employees in order to implement practices that will keep valuable employees satisfied and productive in the workplace. It’s a priority for all employers to do all they can to create and maintain a safe workplace.”

“With the increased prospect of terrorism in the United States, it’s no surprise that employees are very concerned about feeling safe in the workplace,” said Ken Jautz, executive vice president and general manager of CNN Business News. “Employers and their HR professionals must continually assess what makes employees feel safe at their organizations and implement programs that address these issues.”

Women (71 percent) placed more importance on feeling safe in the workplace than did men (52 percent). However, both genders said that feeling safe in the workplace is one of the top five aspects of their overall job satisfaction.

When asked which components are “very important” to overall job satisfaction, employees reported the following five components the highest: benefits, compensation, feeling safe in the work environment, job security, and flexibility to balance work/life issues. The components that were the least important include networking, relationships with co-workers, job-specific training, organization’s commitment to professional development, and work to organization’s business goals.

Another finding of note is the decrease of importance in career development and advancement opportunities compared with the 2002 findings. Career development was important to 51 percent of employees in 2002 but only 40 percent in the 2004 survey. Similarly, advancement opportunities were important to 52 percent of employees in 2002 and only 37 percent in the current survey.

The vast majority of employees continue to report being satisfied with their jobs, with 77 percent reporting overall job satisfaction, an increase of five percent from the October survey. In October 2003, 72 percent were satisfied; in August 2003, 76 percent reported overall job satisfaction; in February 2003, 80 percent were satisfied; and in September 2002, 77 percent were satisfied.