You might think that with all the pressures on engineers today to pick up the pace and get products to market faster there would be a lot of morale problems out there in the manufacturing world.
Apparently not. Unlike Mick Jagger, engineers can get satisfaction!
According to the most recent Design News Career and Salary Survey, reported in this issue, the percentage of engineers who are very satisfied with their jobs has gone up, not down.
Two years ago, our survey showed that 22% of respondents were very satisfied in their careers. This year's survey raises that number to 30%.
Remove the word "very" from the question, and this year's survey also shows an increase in the number of engineers who are just plain "satisfied" with their chosen profession--it's now well over 50%.
What's going on here? Wouldn't you expect the crushing workload and incessant demands for lightning-fast turnaround to dampen enthusiasm and make people yearn for a simpler professional life? Apparently there is something in the makeup of people who choose engineering as a career that likes pressure. Or, maybe the opportunity for creativity that the job offers overrides the drudgery and pressure that sometimes comes with the territory.
But there is one little cloud over in the numbers that management should take note of: While the percentage of "very satisfied" is going up, it's still not high enough. Cynics may say it's unrealistic, but I think it's possible for fully 95% or more of engineers to be happy campers. And that can happen if management sets priorities for them and sticks with them, and shows respect for their efforts--and their time.
Recently, a reader wrote that there were several occasions when his management team gave him deadlines so ridiculous that he had to work nights, weekends, and vacations to meet the schedules. Then, the same managers took weeks before they got around to reviewing the work. That should never happen, yet we all know it does too often.
Engineers are a resilient lot with much to offer. The more respect they get, the more they'll give, and the higher that satisfaction level will be.