All employees in a company, from the receptionist to the CEO, seek contentment from their job. This is, in a nutshell, what employee satisfaction is all about. Those who feel respected, whose needs are met, and who are fairly compensated by their employers are the employees who tend to stay. Furthermore, Entrepreneur points out that satisfied employees tend to speak highly of their companies, which can bolster their reputation and contribute to their overall success.
And what about employee engagement, you might ask? Although the two are often used interchangeably, employee satisfaction and employee engagement are not synonymous. The latter refers to how connected an employee feels to the organizational goals of the company. The clearer the connection, the more likely they are to work hard to fulfill those goals. They might not be the same, but the two metrics definitely share a positive correlation. A more satisfied employee tends to be more productive compared to someone who is unhappy at their job and performs poorly as a result.
That said, there are ways to boost employee satisfaction, improving employee engagement in the process. Here’s how:
1. Optimize your employee benefits package
When a professional gets similar job offers with similar pay rates, the difference can be split by the benefits package offered. These include the number of paid leaves allowed, healthcare coverage, contribution and pension plans, and even wellness programs that are implemented by the company. In total, these contribute to the amount of satisfaction experienced, as an employee feels they are taken care of.
Added family-friendly benefits should also be factored in. These include subsidized childcare, scholarships, domestic partnerships, and of course, paid maternity and paternity leaves. While maternity leaves are pretty much a global benefit, new dads still aren’t granted that work advantage. In the US, only the states of New York, New Jersey, California, New Hampshire, and the city of Washington D.C. require employers to provide paid leaves to their male employees. However, this is a right that should be recognized everywhere.
2. Promote good health and wellness
Employees are not robots who never get sick, tired, or stressed. Companies who show little care for the well-being of their employees suffer high turnover rates, which can hamper productivity and increase costs. This is why wellness programs have become essential to the corporate setting. Simple initiatives like healthy food choices in the cafeteria, daily fitness classes, or even mental health leaves can be instrumental in making sure employees remain satisfied and engaged with their roles.
But more than employees’ physical health, it’s also important for management to think about their financial well-being. Studies have shown how financial health and physical wellness are intrinsically connected, as being stressed about money can trigger all sorts of bad coping mechanisms — from bad eating habits to skipping sleep. These, in turn, can make money problems worse, keeping employees from being at their best in the office. This vicious cycle, ultimately, results in decreased productivity, lower morale, and higher turnover rates for your company. All this is why it’s important for leaders to ensure their team’s financial well-being through financial education that can help employees with budgeting, debt management, and long-term financial planning. You can even look into group insurance, low-cost employee loans, or even incentives for good financial habits, like 401(k) matching.
3. Set aside time for team building
Many people dread team building exercises, but they are absolutely crucial to employee satisfaction. This is where the right preparations come in, as you can’t just force your employees to spend time with each other and call it a day. Team building activities require proper planning, as you need to take the employees’ personalities into account. While it’s good to step out of one’s comfort zone every once in a while, try not to make your employees do something they’re not at all comfortable with. For example, forcing extremely shy people to sing at karaoke night or going on challenging hiking trips for people who have no knowledge of nature are initiatives that are bound to backfire.
It’s best to do an office survey of what everyone wants to do or let employees take turns in choosing what activity to do next. That can help you get to know each other better and build better working relationships. In turn, workplace morale goes up as well as team collaboration. These two things are very important factors that affect happiness in the workplace and can be very beneficial to organizational success.
4. Invest in their future by offering growth opportunities
One reason your employees might not be feeling satisfied or be productive at work is the lack of clear growth working for the company. The 2018 Workplace Learning Report by LinkedIn reveals that 94% of employees would stay if their company invested in workplace learning. Your team can focus on hard skills related to your field, but developing soft skills (such as leadership, communication, collaboration, and role-specific skills) are just as important, too.
Though they can be tedious, start or continue holding workshops and training sessions to develop these skills. And given that lack of time is an obstacle for the workforce, you can even opt for micro-learning programs that can fit into one to two hours per week. These can help provide more opportunities for growth and motivate your employees. Alternatively, you can also provide additional support for workers looking to complete or append their formal education. These days, online learning can provide busy employees the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s, master’s, or even doctoral degrees from the comfort of their own homes — something that Maryville University notes that a third of the country’s students are currently doing. So, consider including employer tuition reimbursement as a company perk to show your team that you are invested in their continuing education and improvement. After all, their personal growth is an opportunity for your team to improve as well.
5. Recognize great work and improve feedback culture
Financial rewards are much appreciated, but acknowledging good work in the form of words of praise can be highly valuable, too. As a leader, you’re responsible for setting a culture of recognition within the workplace. This not only rewards hard work but also motivates others who might be underperforming to put in more effort into their responsibilities and take initiative. Improving the feedback culture is also in line with that process, which is why it’s one of our ‘4 Methods To Create An Engaged Team’. The benefits include improved performance, employee retention, and of course, a happier workforce.
Written with ❤️ by Joan Bradell – Contributor
Joan Bradell is an HR executive by day, and blogger by night. She often writes about trends in the workplace and her observations in her field. She hopes that her advice helps companies, particularly startups, grow and thrive.