Employee Satisfaction: 8 Best Practices For A Well-Oiled Workplace
Employee satisfaction is one of those things we all strive for in a workplace. It means contentment, a sense of purpose, and a feeling of belonging. Satisfied employees are more likely to be engaged ones, who do the best they can whenever they can. Although, there is an important difference between the two terms.
Achieving this warm glow of satisfaction doesn’t happen instantaneously. You need to work at it. Let’s have a quick look at the definitions:
In relation to an employee’s environment and well-being in a workplace
In relation to an employee’s work and connection
Encompasses an employee’s own needs and desires at work, not just those of the company (personal expectations)
Whether the employee has an active role in trying to boost the company forward (company expectations)
Easier to measure (e.g. through surveys and sentiment analysis)
Harder to measure
Measuring Employee Satisfaction
If you want to get to grips with it, you need to know how to measure it. Fortunately, employee satisfaction is a lot easier to quantify than employee engagement. There are many avenues you could pursue to get the best, most accurate results possible.
- Pulse surveys. Does what it says on the tin. These frequent, short sets of questions allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of employee sentiment. They take very little time, and can be easily incorporated into busy work schedules. Our Love Of Workplace Index™ Pulse Validation is a quick, confidential way for you to keep on top of sentiment.
- Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). This research metric consists of just one survey question, and asks respondents how likely they are to recommend a company (or marketable item) to their friends. Whilst this is often used for customers to rate an item, it can also be a valuable way of quickly gathering intel on how well your employees perceive you.
- Love of Workplace Index™ This researched and validated pulse survey measures the degree of love employees have for your company. It measures your levels of collaboration; how positive workers feel about their future at the company; how much employee values align with employer values; respect at all levels; and career achievement. The Love of Workplace Index™ pulse validation takes employees between 3-4 minutes to complete and is a prerequisite of certification for becoming a Most Loved Workplace®.
The great thing about these is that since they are reliable and don’t need to vary much to suit different companies, there are lots of templates available for you to use.
But you could also take a look at:
- Employee turnover rates. If your employee retention scores are low, it likely means your satisfaction levels are, too.
- Sick days. It’s true that we can’t exactly help when we’re ill, but, let’s be honest, we’ve all thought about pulling a sickie to get out of work or school. If your employees are genuinely interested in the job they do and are satisfied doing it, you may find that the amount of people calling in sick decreases.
- Customer satisfaction. A satisfied workforce is something your customers won’t be able to ignore. Happy employees who enjoy their work will make this known through their interactions with your audience.
It’s always a good idea to measure employee satisfaction, as you can gain valuable insights into your company. It also makes you look like an attentive boss who genuinely cares about the well-being of their workers.
8 Methods of Achieving Satisfied Employees
There are many ways of boosting the overall satisfaction of your employees. But here are 8 of the most effective methods which will have the most impact, and are the easiest to integrate into whatever organization you run.
1. Recognize, Reward, and Motivate
Everyone loves something to work towards, something that motivates them to do their best. Recognition is constantly named one of the most important aspects of the employee experience, so it’s definitely something to focus on if you want to keep your satisfaction levels high.
- Recognize your employees for the hard work they do, or when they accomplish a certain achievement. Then, with their permission, post about it on social media or on a dedicated page on your website which lets your customers know about the great job being done.
- Reward a job well done. This can be for individual examples, such as bonuses or care packages, depending on an employee’s output. Or you could offer wider perks like workplace Christmas parties, day trips out, or additional days of holiday.
- Motivate employees by letting them know how valued their work is. Even the smallest efforts make an impact on the bottom line, so highlight that. Verbal motivation throughout the day or in the run-up to deadlines can boost morale. It’s always better to build your team up, not push them down.
A final useful thing you could do in terms of motivation and recognition is celebrate employees’ personal milestones, such as birthdays or promotions. This works particularly well in smaller environments where people are encouraged to build closer connections with one another.
Even a small token, such as a card and a balloon, or more substantial gifts like a day off for someone’s birthday, make people feel valued and appreciated. Show that they’re not forgotten in the day-to-day corporate grind.
2. Measure Engagement and Collaboration
Keep an eye on how much your employees interact with their work, their colleagues, and with you. Do they:
- Ask for your opinion or help? Do they stay away from you?
- Get on with their tasks, and extra beneficial things you hadn’t asked for?
- Want to learn new things and expand their horizons at your company?
Tracking engagement is finicky. It also takes longer than a simple employee satisfaction survey since you need to track engagement levels over time. By setting milestones such as monitoring progress on day 7, day 30, day 90 – moving in a few-month intervals – you can begin to paint a picture of how your workers are progressing.
High satisfaction doesn’t necessarily lead to high engagement. But this is almost always the case vice versa, unless you’re operating within a culture of punishment and fear which isn’t healthy at all.
Collaboration between employees is generally a really good indicator. When people work together towards a common goal and a positive vision of the future, you know you’re doing something right. This is what you need to strive for and believe in. If you do, then they will, too.
3. Provide and Accept Feedback
Knowing that you’re doing the right thing is always a good feeling. 75% of employees believe that feedback is a valuable tool, and 92% think constructive criticism is useful for improving performance.
But the truth is that a shockingly low amount of people actually receive decent feedback from their employers. A recent study by Gallup found that only 21% of US employees believe they have recently received “meaningful” feedback. But this figure has increased from only 19% in 2019.
Perfecting employee feedback is a matter of balancing the pros and cons. You need to be encouraging, but you owe it to your business, and the wellbeing of your employees, to be honest if there are issues. Perhaps they’re falling behind and they don’t know it. Or they have personal struggles going on which are impacting how well they perform. Communication eliminates any doubt.
You could either have one-to-one discussions with certain employees, or use your human resources department if there are more substantial concerns that need to be addressed. HR is also a great place for employees to turn to when they need help, or if they want to give feedback or raise concerns about senior leadership. It’s important that all issues are listened to and addressed in one way or another so that employee wellbeing remains a priority for any workplace.
Providing feedback should be a continuous process, not just something that happens a couple of times a year. It’s no good if employees only know how well they’re doing each quarter. Aim to set aside some time for your workers each week, or every two weeks depending on the size of your company. And let them come to you, as well, by encouraging open communication wherever possible.
4. Co-create Your Culture With Employees
Your work culture should be a place of inclusion and support, where teamwork is encouraged and team members look out for one another. Your culture may be what attracts people in the first place, so the key to maintaining levels of satisfaction is keeping consistent with it.
A culture that your employees will be satisfied with is one that is welcoming from the get-go and feels more like a family – or, more accurately, a good group of friends (since families can get pretty stressful sometimes!). According to Gallup, developing strong friendships in the workplace can improve satisfaction by 50%.
This opens up so many doors. Going to a mandatory workplace get-together can be almost comically awkward. But hanging out with friends, catching up for a drink, or doing an escape room together? Now that sounds like fun.
By co-creating this culture, you keep your employees at the forefront. They have a say in what happens, so they feel more invested. It’s a self-sustaining cycle whereby everyone is incorporated into a structure they feel benefits them at a core level.
Even if you have a culture that encourages competition, always striving for the best results possible, it’s easy to make this fun when you know how. There’s a big difference between toxic and friendly competition. Leaving room for a little bit of play or silliness means people don’t take things too seriously.
5. Be Flexible
Satisfaction comes hand in hand with a sense of freedom and autonomy. A study by SHRM found that 47% of respondents said having control over their work was “very important” to them.
Flexibility in terms of working hours also has a role to play when it comes to job satisfaction. In a post-pandemic era, we have seen how useful working from home can be. So, to account for those who like to come into the office and those who prefer remote working, try offering a hybrid scheme that lets the employees choose what works best for them.
This is also relevant to the 9-5 working hour structure. Sure, it’s good for some, but there are people who work better in the evenings, or may have a lot going on they need to balance. A flexible, understanding employer takes that stress away and reduces the risks of burnout. Keep an eye on performance to make sure everything’s getting done on time, but if there are no problems, what’s the harm in keeping it?
Have the confidence to trust your employees. They know what works best for them.
6. Offer Development Opportunities
Opportunities for career development help to build a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, as employees feel like there is direction to their working life. If you’re comfortable staying in one place, that’s fine. But the eagerness to achieve, to do more, to learn, shouldn’t be left by the wayside.
Development of skills also means that tasks can be completed faster and more efficiently. This enhances a sense of success and gratification, since employees can depend on their own ability to problem solve and perform at their best without assistance. These skills may also apply to the world outside of work, allowing people to experience or do things that would previously have been unachievable.
Try offering webinars, access to knowledge bases, or prepaid enrollment courses that let your employees choose what they want to do and learn in their own time.
A solid career ladder can be an attractive sight for potential new talent, but it also helps retain employees since they know there’s more that they can do at their workplace. A plethora of opportunities inside your company means people will feel less of a need to look elsewhere for new experiences.
7. Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance
It seems like we’re always connected to everything, all at once. That can be the joy, and the curse, of the internet. You can increase your employee’s satisfaction by encouraging a good separation of work and home.
Clear boundaries will help people set schedules and routines. Don’t call on your workers outside of their office hours where possible, and make good use of work emails that deliver concise information at once.
They might seem cliche, but offering mental health days can greatly reduce anxiety and stress in the workplace. Additionally, employee benefits packages that include things like healthcare services, discounted gym memberships, or vouchers for restaurants in your local area can really improve overall satisfaction.
8. Maintain High-Quality Working Conditions
There’s a saying that your work environment is a reflection of your mind. Whether that’s true or not, having a clean, bright, organized work environment is far more satisfying to be in than one that is cramped, disorderly, and lonely.
If your employees are working from home, make sure they have the tools to do their jobs. This may include a complimentary laptop of software download codes. Then, whilst in the office, think about what could make the physical environment more comfortable:
- Do you have temperature control so your employees are never too hot or too cold, regardless of the season?
- How about ergonomic chairs and tables which encourage employees to stay active and healthy?
- Is there a suitable break room that people can go relax in?
If you have doubts about what your employees are looking for, send out a questionnaire. Use the survey results to make informed decisions. This keeps your workers in the loop as well, and allows them to have a direct impact on the company they operate in.
Being mindful of satisfaction levels will help your employees immensely. No longer will the drive to the office be one of turmoil and discontent. The rollout of bed will be met with enthusiasm (well, as enthusiastic as anyone can be getting up) instead of annoyance.
Help employees help you! Listen to them directly if they have suggestions about what would make them happier. Then you can measure the success of these decisions to make sure you’re keeping both satisfaction and engagement levels at their best.
Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, Most Loved Workplace, and Results-Based Culture. Author of In Great Company, Change Champions Field Guide, and Best Practices in Talent Management, as well as a series of Leadership Development books. He is a trusted strategic advisor and coach to CEOs, CHROs, and leaders of mid-sized to F500 companies – enabling change and steering employer brand development together with highly effective teams, leaders, and organizations as a whole.