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What Drives Satisfaction Levels in Behavioral Healthcare Workers?

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What Drives Satisfaction Levels in Behavioral Healthcare Workers?

The results from surveying 1,200 behavioral healthcare professionals showed 26% of across the industry are not satisfied in their current position. Why is that?

First, we look at the overall data and the factors workers list as the most important drivers of their satisfaction level. It shows, across all respondents, the factors that determined satisfaction were as follows:

1) Compensation – 57% most important/81% top three
2) Advancement Opportunities – 19%/73%
3) Day-to-Day Responsibilities – 7%/58%
4) Company Culture – 6%/22%
5) Company Mission – 5%/28%
6) Ability to Work from Home – 3%/7%
7) Benefits – 2%/18%
8) Work-Life Balance – 1%/13%

Now, we examine the 26% of respondents who reported lower levels of job satisfaction. This subset of the group reports the following factors as the major determinants of job satisfaction:

1) Compensation – 37% most important/69% top three
2) Advancement Opportunities – 30%/70%
3) Day-to-Day Responsibilities – 9%/63%
4) Company Culture – 8%/23%
5) Benefits – 5%/22%
6) Work-Life Balance – 4%/15%
7) Ability to Work from Home – 4%/11%
8) Company Mission – 3%/29%

Among the less satisfied respondents, we see factors such as Advancement Opportunities and Benefits become increasingly important. The biggest deltas in how satisfied versus dissatisfied respondents ranked various factors occurred in the following categories:

1) Advancement Opportunities: +11% most important
2) Benefits: +3% most important/4% top three
3) Day-to-Day Responsibilities: +2%/5%
4) Work-Life Balance: +3%/2%

This suggests when upward mobility, benefits, work-life balance, and the daily aspects of their roles are limited, these factors can become disproportionate drivers of satisfaction levels.

Before sweeping changes to Recruiting and HR strategies are made, we must first understand the nuanced role which Department or position plays. As we will examine, satisfaction considerations vary distinctly when you compare responses of Clinical employees to Business Development employees, for example.

What drives satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) among specific roles?

Owner / Advisor / Board Member

Unsurprisingly, the group of Owners / Advisors / Board Members reported the highest levels of satisfaction, compared to other roles, with 83% reporting that they are satisfied or very satisfied in their current position.
Among those reporting low satisfaction levels, however, they report the following primary improvements needed: Compensation, Advancement Opportunities, and Company Culture.

We can reasonably divide the dissatisfaction of Owners, Advisors, and Board members into two categories – those who feel their advancement opportunities and compensation have reached a ceiling, and those who are not compelled by the company’s mission and culture.

Clinical Staff

Clinical workers reported relatively high levels of satisfaction, with 74% reporting being satisfied or very satisfied in their current role. Among the Clinical respondents: Compensation, Advancement Opportunities, and Day-to-Day Responsibilities are cited as the most important factors in determining their satisfaction level. Among dissatisfied workers: Work-Life Balance, Company Mission, and Day-to-Day Responsibilities were cited as drivers. The data implies a potential propensity for burnout in this group. Some comments from individual respondents illuded to lack of administrative oversight and support, which is a possible contributor to the overwhelming nature of Clinical work.

Within the Clinical group, it’s especially important to keep your team motivated by your company mission, and to lay out a clear plan for them to grow & develop in terms of position and day-to-day responsibilities within the organization. Know how to recognize the signs and ensure supervisory and administrative support is provided to regularly assess caseloads, work-life balance, and to provide necessary support.


Administrative staff reported 75% were satisfied or very satisfied with their current position. Across the spectrum of satisfaction levels, these workers again ranked Compensation, Advancement Opportunities, and Day-to-Day responsibilities as the top three drivers of satisfaction. This group of respondents uniquely had the highest percentage of respondents reporting they are very dissatisfied in their current positions, with only 7% reporting an extremely low level of satisfaction.

As we examine the 25% of Administrative workers who are Dissatisfied or Very Dissatisfied, the culprits are distinctly two factors – Company Culture and Benefits.

Administrative staff are often required to wear more hats than other behavioral healthcare roles, and responsibilities can shift. Be mindful of how many of the organizations’ issues can coalesce in the Administration team’s list of problems to solve, and eventually permeate the culture they operate within. Work with staff in Administrative roles to ensure the overall trend of their daily responsibilities is trending in a direction aligned with their goals, and invest in ways to keep the culture positive – even as the Administrative team is dealing with various organizational problem-solving. Additionally, this is a group where satisfaction can be made or broken by Benefits. Examine your company’s benefits packages, and explore creative ways to offer value-adds to staff at every level.

Business Development

Among Business Development staff, 72% reported being Satisfied or Very Satisfied. This group is heavily motivated by Compensation and Advancement Opportunities overall, but Company Mission is also a driving factor for Business Development staff to consider new opportunities. Compared to other roles, more Business Development employees reported being Very Dissatisfied in their current role – with 13% of respondents selecting this lowest level of satisfaction. The three standout drivers of dissatisfaction levels were Company Culture, Day-to-Day Responsibilities, and Company Mission. Additionally, the flexibility to work-from-home can be a driving factor for Business Development staff to consider new opportunities.

Naturally, Business Development teams and individuals are more successful when they buy into the company’s mission and culture. As individuals in this role often serves as the “face” of your organization, it is critical that they are aligned with your mission and representative of your culture. Additionally, some comments from these respondents illude to poor management and a perceived lack of respect. It can be very easy to let Business Development individuals operate in their own silos and become isolated from the rest of the organization, as management can tend to be results-focused to the detriment of oversight and support. While Business Development is naturally a results-driven role, do not neglect providing clear management structure and facilitating a team culture that provides support and development.


Across all positions, Admissions respondents reported the lowest levels of job satisfaction, with only 59% being Satisfied or Very Satisfied in their current role. Company Culture is disproportionately more important to this group, overall, as a determiner of job satisfaction. Among dissatisfied respondents, Work-Life Balance is overwhelmingly a driving factor – with Advancement Opportunities, Company Mission, and Company Culture following closely behind.

Admissions staff serve on the front lines of customer interactions and service. It is critical to monitor satisfaction levels and effectively manage their schedules and hours. Consider balancing demanding schedules with generous time-off policies, and providing other incentives to offset how particularly demanding their work schedules can become.

Taking Action

The satisfaction data suggest it isn’t enough to assess your company’s overall strategy to attract and retain staff.

In order to be truly successful at hiring and growing employees, organizations must first become more adept at assessing departmental nuances – the unique challenges that each organizational function faces, and potential gaps in the organization’s offering based on those challenges.

In addition to hiring key staff, we at Jordan and Associates also specialize in coaching and training organizations and teams in strategic ways to assess their organizational structure and employee offerings. Visit to learn more.