Employee Satisfaction: Where Do You Rank?

Employee Satisfaction: Where Do You Rank?

Last month, there was a congressional hearing to examine the Best and Worst Places to Work in the Federal Government. The Office of Personnel Management actually takes an annual survey of Federal workers, and a non-profit group uses the data to provide rankings of agencies. This is valuable data for organizations, in both the public and private sector.  Engaged, happy workers are more productive and less likely to jump ship. What if your employees were surveyed and your business was compared to others in your industry — how do you think you’d rank? Does the thought make you cringe?  Are you confident, but acknowledge there is room for improvement? Well, we’ve done some research and have some suggestions for you.  And, the good news, especially for small businesses with tight budgets, is that most of it costs nothing.

The benefits of happy employees are many:  reduced absenteeism, less burn out and lower stress, as well as better problem-solving, more creativity and enhanced collaboration.  There are a lot of good ideas about how to make workers happy.  We’ve distilled these recommendations down to seven tips on how any company can have more engaged, productive employees.

1. Transparency

It can be pretty frustrating, if not unsettling, to work for a company where you feel like you don’t know what’s going on. Is the business financially sound? What is the strategic vision for growth? What are the short-term goals?  Communication about the company’s vision, plans, and status are important to employees who want to feel a part of the team and reduce their anxiety about the future. This communication should come not just from the CEO, but from supervisors and managers as well. Transparency also has the benefit of breeding a culture of trust.

2. Work-Life Balance

No surprise here. Some 80% of workers would appreciate more flexible work options. Technology has thrown the 9-to-5 work schedule out the window, and many workers feel like they are on the job or on-call all the time. Many American workers don’t mind putting in the time, but they want to fit their work into their lifestyle in a way that appropriately prioritizes both. Offering flexibility to workers in a way that respects their personal needs will be appreciated and reduce burn out. Whether workers are grappling with the demands of an aging parent, school-aged children, a tough commute, or other personal priorities, finding ways for them to meet their obligations away from work will make the time they are working less stressful and more productive.

Along those lines, it’s important to show respect for employees’ time.  Cut down on all those meetings and unnecessary emails.  Meetings need to be focused, short, and have a goal. Consider a policy for limiting emails after hours.

3. Recognition and Reward

Pretty much a no-brainer.  Thanking workers for a job well done and public recognition go a long way to boost morale. One survey designed to measure employee motivation revealed that “full appreciation of work being done” outranked high wages and promotion.  Not only does recognizing an employee for their accomplishments make them feel good, it is also an opportunity for the employer to highlight and reinforce the company’s values.

4. Professional Development

No one wants to feel stuck in a rut or a dead-end job.  Giving employees a path to a brighter future makes them feel valued. Find ways to improve the skill sets of your employees through training and education; it benefits both the individual and the company.  Consider mentoring programs. Make your employees aware of other job opportunities or career pathways within company. This is especially important for Generation Y/Millennials who are ready to move to the next level the second they step in the door.

5. Personal Contact

Humans have a desire to bond, and socialization boosts mood.  Providing opportunities for social contact — whether in a nice break room, at in-office birthday parties, or during happy hours — allows your team to bond.  Encouraging employee interaction builds relationships that are more conducive to collaboration and creative exchanges.  Not only do employees need friends among their office peers, but they also need contact from their bosses.  Regular face-to-face check-ins with employees show you care about them personally. This practice also offers an opportunity to provide feedback that many employees crave (especially Millennials) and to obtain valuable insights on how the office is functioning.

6. Clear Expectations and Goals

Goals give people a sense of purpose that make work more meaningful.  Setting out goals for employees and defining expectations allows for measurable accomplishment. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate how an employee can add value to the company and how their contribution fits into the big picture, giving them a sense of belonging.  The benefit to the company is more focused, productive employees who are less likely to waste time on lower priority tasks.

 7. Tools for Success

Show that you value and respect your employees by giving them the tools they need to succeed. Do they have the appropriate technology and supplies?  Is their work space conducive to their personal productivity?  Some need quiet to focus, others thrive in a more open environment.  Is your office space drab or cheery?   Do you ask your employees what they want or need to make their jobs easier?  It might be time.

Is it possible to meet every need of every employee all the time?  Probably not.  But, if you can adopt these strategies in a way that fits your workforce and business model, you will reap the benefits of happier employees and the satisfaction of improving the lives of others.

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