How to Foster Employee Satisfaction

Make Employee Satisfaction Surveys and Meetings Contribute

Attentive businesswoman listening in conference audience
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Employee satisfaction is the term used to describe whether employees are happy and fulfilling their desires and needs at work. Many measures purport that employee satisfaction is a factor in employee motivation, employee goal achievement, cost savings, customer satisfaction, employee productivity, positive employee morale, and more in the workplace.

Employee satisfaction, while generally a positive in your organization, can also become a problem if mediocre employees stay because they are satisfied and happy with your work environment. (But, surely, if you identify that mediocre employees stay in your organization, this is a whole different story that requires effective performance management and constructive feedback.)

Factors That Contribute to Employee Satisfaction

Factors contributing to employee satisfaction include treating employees with respect, providing regular employee recognition, empowering employees, offering above industry-average benefits and compensation, providing employee perks and company activities, and positive management within a success framework of goals, measurements, and expectations.

  • The critical factor with employee satisfaction is that satisfied employees must do the job and make the contributions that the employer needs. If they don't, all that the employer does to provide an environment that satisfies employees is for naught.

Measuring Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is measured in several different ways including numerics such as employee retention, customer satisfaction, and the ability to attract superior employees. It is also measured internally in two ways.

Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Employee satisfaction is often measured using anonymous employee satisfaction surveys that are administered periodically to all members of the organization to gauge employee satisfaction.

In an employee satisfaction survey, employee satisfaction is looked at in areas such as:

  • management effectiveness
  • understanding of the mission and vision of the organization and where each employee fits inside of this framework
  • empowerment by management and the expectations of the organization
  • teamwork on teams and with coworkers
  • communication transparency and effectiveness
  • coworker interaction and relationships
  • their ability to solve customer problems and provide outstanding service
  • leadership received and the potential to lead
  • the perceived sense of opportunity to grow professionally and personally

The facets of employee satisfaction measured vary from company to company.

Meetings With Employees

A second method used to measure employee satisfaction is meeting with small groups of employees and asking the same questions verbally. Depending on the culture of the company, and whether employees feel free to provide feedback, either method can contribute knowledge about the degree of employee satisfaction to managers and employees.

Another type of meeting occurs when one individual is asked why they stay at the company. Called a stay interview, they yield often helpful information that management can act on.

Exit interviews are another way to assess employee satisfaction, in that satisfied employees rarely leave companies. You will want to discover why the employee is choosing to leave. The all-important question to ask is what caused the employee to want to start looking for a new job in the first place.

How to Make Employee Satisfaction Surveys Successful

These types of employee satisfaction events are used by an organization or a business to measure the liking and approval of a particular group of stakeholders for its services, work environment, culture, or employment. Specifically, an employee satisfaction survey is a survey most frequently noted.

For example, the satisfaction survey is a series of questions that employees answer to inform the employer about how they feel about or how they experience their work environment and culture. The questionnaire usually offers both questions that ask employees to rate a particular aspect of the work environment and open-ended questions that allow them to express opinions.

With carefully chosen questions that do not lead to particular answers, an employer can get a feel for the happiness, satisfaction, and engagement of employees. When a satisfaction survey is used at specific intervals, such as annually, an employer can track employee satisfaction over time to see if it is improving.

Effective Satisfaction Surveys Require Employer Actions

If an employer decides to use a satisfaction survey, the employer must commit to making changes in the work environment based on the employee responses to the survey. It is the bottom line for employers who are considering administering a survey to employees.

The employer who chooses to use a satisfaction survey with employees must be committed to reporting the results to employees. Additionally, the employer should be committed to making changes to the work environment, with the help and involvement of employees and teams of employees.

Communicating transparently about the changes, their impact, and future plans, are all part of a positive satisfaction survey process.

Without transparent communication, results reporting, and employee updates, employees will not trust the employer's motives in collecting survey data. Over time, employees will cease to respond or respond only with answers that they believe the employer wants to hear. It makes the data collected on the survey useless.

The Bottom Line

The involvement of employees in improving the work environment based on survey results creates an environment of shared responsibility for workplace culture and improvements. Employers should avoid leading employees to believe that satisfaction at work is the employer's responsibility. Employee satisfaction is a shared responsibility.