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Electronic Design

Can't Get No Satisfaction

Times are pretty good, as 86% of today's engineers say they're generally satisfied in their current job. But not everyone feels the same. Which engineers are most likely to be unhappy? On the surface, they appear to be typical engineers in terms of age, gender, race, hours worked, and years of experience. However, disgruntled engineers are more likely to be underpaid and/or work for larger organizations (those with annual revenues averaging $3.2 billion).

In fact, these professionals typically take home about $18,000 less than their peers - and they know it: 66% say their compensation package is less competitive than what other employers are paying, and on average they estimate this undercompensation to be about 21%. To make matters worse, they received less than a 1% increase in salary this year. They're also less likely to believe that their compensation is appropriately tied to their personal performance, which gives them another reason to feel underappreciated.

Not surprisingly, 78% of engineers who say they are unhappy in their jobs also feel a career path in engineering isn't as promising as it was five years ago. Only 17% of these respondents said they are being challenged intellectually by the projects they're working on. Also noteworthy is the fact that the companies these engineers work for are less likely to offer stock options, further education and training, and tuition reimbursement.

Outsourcing is a big source of concern with the disenchanted, as 66% say their company outsources engineering work, 47% say they're worried about losing their job to outsourcing, and 42% say these outsourcing worries actually keep them up at night. "The major focus at my present company is to move hardware engineering jobs to Mexico, software engineering jobs to India, and component engineering to China," said one engineer. "Even the teams still in North America are being shrunk as facility consolidation continues to result in the closing of design centers."

Our 2007 Reader Survey also found the following characteristics to be typical for dissatisfied engineers:

  • 37% are dealing with staff reductions
  • 49% have concerns about their own job security
  • 30% are worried about the financial health of their company and about the economy in general
  • 35% fret over age discrimination
  • 39% suffered through permanent staff layoffs this year
  • 47% have seen an increased workload due to staff cuts
  • 36% have had projects cancelled
  • 43% have experienced budget cuts
  • 31% have been affected by salary freezes
  • 28% have been affected by hiring freezes
  • 61% never had the opportunity to work in their dream job, and 57% have given up hope on ever being able to do so
  • 25% are actively seeking a new position
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