This is a helpful, subjective piece of firsthand research into a representative mindset of the modern engineer. I strongly believe that engineering firms, human resources, and executive teams should consider the factors described to help with:
Happy engineers feel that they have the resources, support, and environment to problem solve. Engineers don't just want to go with the flow. If they can successfully and positively impact a situation, they will. If leaders will help limit bureaucracy and other hindering factors, I believe engineers will be happy at their jobs as well.
That was my thinking too.
Engineers are also active problem seekers. We identify problems in what we do and also in the workplace. If we see something we think can be improved then we are no longer completely happy.
The general population, on the other hand, are happy to let things slide and be someone else's problem.
There has been some resentment in the industry in the last few years due to the bursting bubble of the dotcom era. Many engineers look back at 1999 with an over inflated sense of entitlement and are resentful that things are no longer like that. The reality of course is that dotcom was not the norm; it was a bubble and we should think of it as such.
what I can see is that engineering jobs are complex, lot of interdependency like research,design, manufacturing till to get the product sold and we do not deal direct with the investor who will pay our bonus, but we are working under corporate structure that made us as engineer to be like a fixed capital than a high potential revenue generator just like sales department does. Bottom line it is economic law again, what is the revenue potential and where it may seem to have direct relationship with. And This is mostly done by biz grad instead of eng grad. So the only way to reverse this, when all engineers decided to start their own venture themselves just like HP day. Because what I believe, without engineer the sales can sell nothing, but the otherwise still can be done. I was working under medium size biotech company which I deal direct with the owner of the company, so from here I can see how my above analysis come about.
How exactly was it quantified that engineers are appreciated less than other professionals? I suspect there might be a bit of a "grass is greener..." complex going on here. Sure our jobs are inherently difficult and often thankless, but I don't think it's necessarily all roses for other professionals either. Besides from my experience, whining about lack of appreciation and respect is a surefire way to never get any!
I thought exactly the same thing. I know many happy engineers who love their jobs, but I doubt very many would say they are "completely content," especially given that the next choice was to "tweak a few things" if they could.
Show me an engineer, any engineer, who doesn't want to tweak a few things! I'd like to know more about those 13% who don't see any room for improvement.
Corporate cultures can be changed. There's no reason we can't do something similar here (this is responding to @easy_eddie's comment)... smoking used to be acceptable in the office and sexual harassment wasn't even a phrase 30 years ago.
I'm not sure where to start, but here is as good a place as any with your collective wisdom.
Passion and dedication in any profession win over fame and fortune, every day. Us engineers have to take solace in that we tend to be more realistic about the material world that surrounds us and be content that it allows us to cope with it better.
Since "happiness" is a subset of mental health, it would be quite telling what the comparative MHUs (Mental Health Units(?)) are for engineers (re: other professions).
I have a fantasy that I might actually be appreciated ... when I am gone. Not only do we have no appreciation, we are subject to nasty toteming and GE inspired 'nine block' categorization (good up, left; bad right,down) with an actual quota system to put 8% in the dreaded elbow, where you get a kick in the ass and no raise or bonus. This is how corporate America treats its 'professionals'? It's no wonder the bright kids are exploring other options.
Every once in a while when I am at a fast-food joint or a grocery store I look at the people working there and think "Is this where they really want to be working?" I have a friend who is constantly upset because engineers (and he in particular) aren't revered at what he considers to be the proper level in our society. Myself? I suppose that I'm not perfectly happy, but I make good money and I am more secure than most. If I weren't I would do something about it. Think of Richard Corey (obscure song reference...).