A company’s “respectful treatment” of workers at all levels is the top contributor to employee job satisfaction, according to the recently released results of an annual survey by the Society for Human Resource Management.

“Employees consider culture and connection to be of utmost importance,” said Evren Esen, director of the society’s survey programs. “Feeling appreciated for their time and efforts creates a bond between employees, management and their organization.”

It is the second year that the factor topped the list in SHRM’s Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, being cited as “very important” by 67% of respondents in the 2016 effort. Results, which are not specific to healthcare or hospitality, represent participation from 600 full-time and part-time workers who were randomly polled in November and December 2015.

Other top contributors to job satisfaction, according to the survey:

  • compensation/pay (“very important” to 63% of respondents),
  • overall benefits (60%),
  • job security (58%),
  • opportunities to use skills and abilities (55%), and
  • trust between employees and senior management (53%).

The importance of compensation was at its highest level since 2006, SHRM said.

Overall, employers must be doing something right. More U.S. workers are satisfied with their jobs than at any time since 2005, according to the survey. Eighty-eight percent of employees said they were satisfied overall with their job; 37% of them reported being very satisfied, and 51% said they were somewhat satisfied.

“What a difference a few years — and an improved economy — make in how workers view their jobs,” Esen said. The percentage of satisfied employees has been trending upward since 2013, she added.

“As the economy stabilized after the recession, employers began to focus again on factors that impact retention, and employees found flexibility to seek out more compatible positions if they were ready to move on to new challenges,” Esen said. “The result: workers are happy with their jobs.”

Employee satisfaction was similar across generations, the survey found. Eighty-six percent of millennials indicated being satisfied, and similar percentages were reported for generation X and baby boomers (88% and 90%, respectively).

The survey also examined the connection and commitment that employees have to their jobs and employer. Workers were moderately engaged with their jobs, according to results, a level similar to previous years, although those in lower-level jobs appeared to be less engaged.

Other findings related to engagement:

  • 77% of respondents said they were satisfied with their relationships with co-workers and opportunities to use skills and abilities.
  • 89% said they were confident they could meet their work goals.
  • 70% said they felt encouraged to take action when they saw a problem or opportunity in their workplace.