Employee satisfaction: Why you need to care

Written by Maria Baranowska on 7 August 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

Are your employees happy? Here's why you need to find out.

Employee satisfaction is widely considered to have a positive effect on business. Increased productivity, more dedication to company values and an overall improved business culture are some of the benefits which are evident from a satisfied employee.

But how do you cultivate a happy workforce and how much can you really invest in this?

How to measure if your workforce is happy

Research supports a direct correlation between employee satisfaction and business success. According to the Harvard Business Review, ‘highly engaged organisations have double the rate of success of lower engaged organisations’.

However, sometimes it can be difficult to gauge a true satisfaction and engagement level of employees, particularly the larger an organisation gets. With a widening gap between management and lower ranks, it’s easy to become disconnected with the true culture of an organisation.

Jim Harter Ph.D., a specialist in the field, stated: “Many organisations measure either the wrong things, or too many things, or don’t make the data intuitively actionable. Many don’t make engagement a part of their overall strategy, or clarify why employee engagement is important, or provide quality education to help managers know what to do with the results, and in what order.”

With a widening gap between management and lower ranks, it’s easy to become disconnected with the true culture of an organisation.

James Lloyd-Townshend, CEO of large-scale global recruiter Mason Frank International, opted to ask his employees directly what they wanted to make their work life better. “Our recent employee satisfaction survey identified that our staff want to be more comfortable in the office. 

“We understand that our sales team work long hours and need the extra flexibility when they’re not visiting clients. We’ve had a really positive response across the organisation and are happy to make changes to suit the needs of our employees. You have to be willing to adapt.”

An employee satisfaction survey can be a particularly effective as it allows employees to be anonymous meaning there’s a greater chance of an accurate read.

If an organisation is smaller and you can afford to dedicate time to one-to-one meetings, this can be a great way to get feedback from staff. Face to face conversations allow you to get genuine, useful feedback. Consider some individuals may not enjoy the dynamic of facing their manager so ensure you’re creating a comfortable environment.

How do I encourage satisfaction and engagement?

Listen

Listening seems simple enough. However, many managers make the mistake of leadership meaning all-mighty rule. Nikolay Piriankov, CEO of Taylor & Hart, has learned from his mistakes. “Initially I thought my role as a manager was to 'tell' my team members how and what to do.

As I've grown into the role I've realised that listening to them express their frustration and challenges allows me to be far more effective in helping them.”

Sometimes investments are not monetary but rather you need to demonstrate you are willing to spend time and effort in listening to your staff. Adrian Harvey, CEO of Elephants Don’t Forget, stated: “We have a mandatory meeting every month that starts early and ends at lunch time. We get all the work stuff done and dusted in the first four hours then we lunch and relax in each other’s company for the rest of the day.

“Arguably it’s 12 half days off on the beer with work buddies. In reality it’s essential bonding that forms the relationships that would otherwise be formed over coffee at the photocopier. Neglect it at your peril.”

Give them what they deserve

Considering the majority of people work every day to fund their livelihood, it’s no great surprise being well paid will bring a lot of satisfaction to a job.

Evaluate if your staff are earning the right amount by checking industry averages. Glassdoor or independent salary surveys are good measuring tools. Also consider, if you can access this data so can your staff. Undercutting industry averages in terms of salary will have a knock on effect on an organisation, most likely manifesting in low retention rates.

According to a study by the Harvard Business Journal, "performance-related pay was positively associated with job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and trust in management".

However, the study goes on to reveal, “in some circumstances, performance-related pay may be experienced as a burden that only provides extra pay for workers through an intensification of the work process. This raises critical questions regarding the extent to which individual-based incentives can influence employee wellbeing in a sustainable way.”

If monetary benefits are unachievable for an organisation, consider other perks such as flexible working hours, affiliations with outside organisations or company activities outside of the normal working day.

Satisfaction is the key

Although the measure and method may change from business to business, what is important is every business has some kind of method in place to be attentive to the needs of their staff. Not doing so will eventually have negative knock on effects. 

 

About the author

Maria Baranowska is a freelance writer and marketer.

 

Read more about wellbeing here

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