Are Quality Professionals Happy On the Job?

No one said it’s easy to be a quality professional.  Interesting—yes. Frustrating—sometimes. (Just see feedback to last month’s post on “selling” quality.) Rewarding—it can be; we’re making a difference. Challenging—that’s a given.

Maybe it shouldn’t be easy. After all, some of the most rewarding things in life aren’t easily achieved. Yet most of us in quality will say that the job can be satisfying. Maybe we feel job satisfaction when we ensure that our companies produce a quality product that serves our customers well. (Call it Raising the Voice of Quality!) Maybe it’s when we help eliminate waste and rework. Maybe when lives are saved.  Maybe it’s when we use the skills that we’ve worked for years to develop and sharpen: math, statistics, problem-solving. Or maybe it’s when we see that we’re making a difference.

So I wasn’t surprised that Forbes Magazine named software quality assurance engineer as the “happiest job” in the U.S.

As Forbes says, “Professionals with this job title are typically involved in the entire software development process to ensure the quality of the final product…Software quality assurance engineers feel rewarded at work, as they are typically the last stop before software goes live and correctly feel that they are an integral part of the job being done at the company.”

Great news for software quality engineers—but what about other quality professionals? This month, let’s talk about happiness and job satisfaction in the quality field, worldwide. Are you happy on the job? If yes,  why? If no—what would help you raise the voice of quality with a passion?

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9 Responses to Are Quality Professionals Happy On the Job?

  1. Kishore says:

    It is good to see quality professionals to be on the top of the list. However, this survey findings lack some key fundamentals if we view this from the perspective of quality professional.

    1. The job description of software quality assurance engineer stated is not correct. Software quality assurance engineers develop processes, procedures, methods, and techniques. Software quality assurance engineers do not usually get involved in quality control activities such as code review and the actual testing of the software. Software quality control engineers get involved in code reviews and the actual testing of the software.
    Software quality assurance is not same as software quality control. The job description combined some QA and QC activities.

    2. There is no information on survey methodology, demographics surveyed and threats to validity. I don’t know if I can trust any survey conclusions without such basic information.

    3. Correlation is not causation. I don’t think we can accept the conclusion that software quality assurance engineer is the happiest job.

  2. As the Quality Manager of the leading precision metering and dispensing pump manufacturer in the world. I am proud to say I make a difference, and have great satisfaction in my job improving quality on a continuous basis throughout the company.
    Our product is used in literally every industry imaginable that requires dispensing or metering exact quantities of all types of fluids with an emphasis on the medical field but can be used in manufacturing , food industry, environmental, aerospace, electronics, chip manufacture, lab testing etc….
    The work is varied and very interesting from Fluids to Mechanical, machining, plastics, molding and electronics; sales, cultural, human resources, training, and all sorts of issues on a continual basis, need to be organized and resolved to provide what the customer needs for their individual applications and requirements.
    I cannot imagine doing any other job.
    Charles P. Galea

  3. Great topic Paul.
    I wasn’t surprise either. I’m a Software QA Engineer and I’m so happy with my profession, and as I wrote in my blog: “I believe that every Quality Professional is so passionate about quality (like myself) that, no matter which country we live, we are the most happiest workers in the world”

    Here is my response to the topic.

    Jimena Calfa
    Influential Voices member

  4. Adi Gaskell says:

    The Progress Principle claims that the key to workplace happiness is making progress each day, no matter how small that progress is.

    For me process improvement is all about making those small wins, those marginal gains that add up to something great. If that is the case and we’re doing our jobs properly then it would appear a natural path to happiness.

  5. Mike Hrycyk says:

    I’m not sure if it’s as standard industry wide, but in the 10 or so organizations that i’ve been a part of, QA has had the ability to become a less formal working atmosphere than most of the other levels. I don’t mean this to be any reference that could be taken as an aspersion against the QA dedication to unfailing quality. But the closer to the start of a project you get the more formal and stodgy, for lack of a better word, the interactions. This results in QA’s being the ‘fun’ teams in many organizations. They’re where you look for nerf wars to be happening, or a regularly supplied candy table.

    One of the benefits of being in QA is that although your schedule is almost always unknown (you might have an estimate of when things will arrive, but that’s rarely correct and the estimates you’ve given will often have to compress in some manner because of delivery promises made) what your ultimate goal is, is not. The rest of the project has spent it’s entire being, narrowing to the item that will get delivered. Documented or not, QA still gets a ‘final’ product. Removing this product removes a bunch of stress.

    QA’s know what they have to do, their job is relatively simple to conceptualize. They have to determine the quality of piece of software.

    QA is also a place where late days and nights have an obvious end, because in spite of the fact that their own time has been compressed, a ship date or promise date is known and is very close. Dev’s might work overtime for weeks without concrete deadlines hanging over their heads. That can be very draining.

    Perhaps a bad way to look at it, but when your entire raison d’etre is to find issues, and it’s always incredibly easy to find issues, then you’re seeing fulfillment every day. Bug free code doesn’t exist, therefore the very job of QA is self-fulfilling for fulfillment, as it were.

    QA’s have it made in many ways. It’s a great profession to be in.

  6. Kam Gupta says:

    Great discovery indeed.

    It is good to know that SQE brings happiness. The reason is involvement and engagement. ASQ and other experts talk about employee engagement. Lets wake up and create work contents deliberately that engage the employees, so the reward is in the process not necessarily in the result, and the journey is enjoyed throughout.

    On the other side of the coin, our happiness is created by our mindset. The software engineers felt that they were involved in the whole process thats why they were happy. Not all SQE professionals are happy, and neither are all other quality professionals unhappy. Happiness comes when we feel aligned with what we want to do; or create alignment with what we do. So here is the challenge to quality professionals: Think why we go into the quality profession and how we can choose to be happy, and make others job a happy experience.

  7. There are different kinds of “quality professionals,” just as there are different kinds of happiness. Software quality assurance engineers presumably have the principal responsibility to assure that the software they oversee is meeting requiments or specifications. The job happiness survey des not tell us the extent to which those surveyed also have to work with customers, users, and other stakeholders. This is a critical distinction in my view. Conformance to specification is about what I call “static quality.” Quality assurance in this domain is mainly a technical challenge. Given the right knowledge and resources, any problems found, can be resolved. But satisfying the mind of the customer is another thing entirely. Deming, Juran, Feigenbaum and others all acknowledged that this is a moving target at best. Sometimes the customer does not know what they want. So for me, this is a kind of quality that I refer to as “dynamic quality” or “quantum quality.” Here, quality only comes alilve in the relationship between the product and the user, or recipient in service delivery.

    The quality assurance engineers might be more happy if their work is mainly in the technical domain, and oerhaps less so, if they are working to shift the values, beliefs, and expectations of complex human beings.

  8. Pingback: April Roundup: Are Quality Professionals Happy? | A View from the Q

  9. Sandeep Lele says:

    People often get confused by the terminology “Quality”. It is a very common misconception in the manufacturing industry that Quality Professionals are responsible for quality of the product. There is always friction between real quality professional and quality control professionals.

    Its is not an easy task to be a quality professional. All eyes are set on you assuming that you are the correct person a.k.a magician to take care of a crisis. You become a sandwich between the top management and 2nd and 3rd line of employees. Most top management are not interested in “Quality Culture” and their only objective is financial gain. In such meantality, how will a real quality professional deliver the results.

    Every industry has certian norms in which QA professionals have to maintain dynamics of the game. It is pointless to say that software quality assurance personnel are the happiest. In my opinion all QA professional are equally happy and unhappy

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