The pursuit of happiness is not an easy quest: it takes the fulfillment of multiple elements, as detailed in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The first level of his pyramid involves one’s physiological needs, which include food, water, and rest; the second level’s needs pertain to safety, such as security and shelter; the third lists social needs like love and belongingness; the fourth is allocated for esteem needs such as prestige and accomplishment; and the fifth and final level is all about self-actualization, or achieving one’s fullest potential.

While the first level of needs is of utmost importance, each tier of Maslow’s pyramid is significant in maintaining one’s wellbeing. For instance, a lack of growth and development may not put your life at risk, but it can certainly have a negative effect on your mood and overall life satisfaction. In fact, a recent survey by the American Psychological Association explores this very truth in regard to one’s career.

The “2017 Job Skills Training and Career Development Survey,” which was administered to 1,076 employed U.S. adults, showed that nearly half of American workers long for career development. And despite being equipped with the skills they need to excel in their career, those without supervisor support are more likely to distrust their employer and leave their job within the year.

David Ballard, PsyD, MBA, head of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence explains the nature of these findings: “Employee growth and development is a key element of a psychologically healthy workplace, but it’s often overlooked in employers’ workplace well-being efforts. Our surveys of the U.S. workforce consistently find that training and development is one of the areas employees are least satisfied with. The lack of opportunity for growth and advancement is second only to low pay as a source of work stress.”

The survey found that of those employees whose supervisors do not support and encourage their career growth, a mere 15 percent say their employer offers opportunities to develop the technical skills they will need in the future; 20 percent say their employer provides the necessary training in teamwork and communication; and a small 8 percent says they’re given the opportunity to develop essential leadership and management skills.

These reports don’t paint a promising picture of the country’s future. Employers should instead be “making participation in job-related training and career development activities an expectation and preparing employees for a successful future, as to protect workers and enhance our nation’s workforce readiness,” according to Ballard.

Further analysis of these survey responses allowed the research team to make significant discoveries, regarding the impact of supervisor support. They found that less than half (48 percent) of survey participants without supervisor support say they’re motivated to do their best at work; only 39 percent are satisfied with their jobs; and a meager 22 percent would recommend their company as a good place to work. Furthermore, due to the lack of supervisor support, more than half of U.S. workers say they don’t trust their employer and plan to be employed by a new company within the year.

Ballard concludes that employer intervention is needed: “While there are many uncertainties about the future of work, research is clear that employees and organizations benefit from an emphasis on growth and development. To achieve results, employers need to provide training and development opportunities that meet their workers’ needs. That requires carving out time for people to actually participate in these activities, ensuring that supervisors are actively supporting employees’ development and eliminating disparities, so that all employees have access to the resources they need to be successful in the future.”

American Psychological Association. (2017, October 18). Supervisor Support Critical to Employee Well-Being and Workforce Readiness. [Press Release]. Retrieved on January 8, 2018 from