Why Employee Satisfaction Matters (And How To Successfully Use Surveys)
Gone are the days when many people would take a job just to pay the bills. By and large, the happiest and most productive employees tend to be those who take pride in their work and are motivated by their organisation’s goals and mission. They’re also the ones most likely to stick around when the going gets tough, and they’ll act as free advertising for your organisation.
In this guide, we’ll take you through some of the primary factors that influence employee satisfaction, and how it can be measured and improved upon through the implementation of a leading learning management system (LMS).
What is employee satisfaction?
Employee satisfaction refers to the feeling of accomplishment that your company’s employees derive from fulfilling the tasks and responsibilities of their role. Unlike employee engagement, employee satisfaction is not generally concerned with the overall objectives and culture of an organisation—though it’s worth noting higher levels of employee satisfaction tend to be correlated with an individual’s connection to company values and mission.
There are a number of ways employee satisfaction can be measured:
- On an individual employee level
- Within a team or a department
- Across an entire company.
But the best way to measure employee satisfaction? An amalgamation of all of the above.
Why satisfaction in the workplace matters
Employees dissatisfied with their roles or responsibilities are the ones leaving at 5pm everyday on the dot, putting in the bare minimum of effort required, and those more likely to leave the company on bad terms. In fact, research shows happy employees are on average 12% more productive, while unhappy employees decreased their productivity levels by 10%.
Of course, employee satisfaction brings more benefits than simply increasing productivity levels. Happier employees will be more likely to stay and progress within an organisation rather than seeking opportunities outside of it. This benefits your company by reducing your recruitment and training costs—especially when you consider it can take eight to 26 weeks for a new employee to reach full productivity. Satisfied employees already understand how their new position fits into an organisation, and probably worked with the previous holder of the role. In addition, they will likely be more willing to recommend your company to friends, family, and via platforms such as Glassdoor.
The factors influencing employee satisfaction
There are a number of elements that go into the degree of satisfaction experienced by an employee. Fair pay and compensation are, undeniably, factors in this mix—a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that it was the most influential part of whether or not an employee expressed satisfaction in their current role.
Another piece of research from the Boston Consulting Group garnered responses from over 200,000 people around the world about how they achieved satisfaction at work. Unlike the SHRM’s research, this survey found that a position’s salary was only the eighth most important factor, with the top 10 factors being:
- Appreciation for your work
- Good relationships with colleagues
- Good work-life balance
- Good relationships with superiors
- Company’s financial stability
- Learning and career development
- Job security
- Attractive fixed salary
- Interesting job content
- Company values.
From these 10 factors, BCG defined two broader categories which they deemed the most important for influencing employee satisfaction: “Work environment” and “job content and opportunities”. These can be optimised through initiatives such as the creation of a continuous learning environment—something that, when conducted with the implementation of a successful eLearning platform, can prove to be extremely effective in increasing employee retention.
How to measure satisfaction
When measuring employee satisfaction, there are a few factors that need to first be considered. Accurately obtaining a view of any individual employee’s level of satisfaction can be very difficult due to subjectivity concerns as well as personal and recency biases, and so it’s generally better to get data from a larger cross-section of the organisation. Employee satisfaction surveys are frequently chosen for this type of measurement, as they can be easily administered to all employees across a department or even an entire organisation.
By implementing an employee satisfaction survey, you can truly get to know the ambitions and motivations of your organisation’s employees. In addition, having employees fill out these surveys on a regular basis over time will allow you to identify and monitor any upward or downward swings in overall employee satisfaction in a quick, precise manner.
Another consideration to take into account when measuring satisfaction is the method through which your employees will access the survey. Traditionally, this kind of data collection could only have been done using pen and paper—but today, that’s a lengthy, outdated process that yields limited data and can be subject to human error. In comparison, modern LMS solutions offer a range of benefits including remote access to surveys, easy comparison of past and present staff survey trends, in-built data analysis and tracking, and capability assessments.
Using satisfaction surveys successfully
You want to have a clear idea of what you’re measuring before you begin using satisfaction surveys. Salary expectations, team spirit, learning opportunities and level of job responsibilities are universal measures of employee experience.
Generally speaking, there are three core facets of the employee experience that need to be included for any employee satisfaction survey to be a worthwhile endeavour.
- Workplace culture
- The job itself.
In order to effectively gauge employee satisfaction, it’s good to know which elements of the current organisational culture they respond positively to, and which ones they are less than impressed by. Employees that clearly understand what the company culture is and how they fit into it are more likely to buy into the company’s values and overall vision.
Incorporating questions such as “Do you feel valued at work?” and “How often do you receive recognition from your manager?” can really help with understanding an employee’s attitude towards existing management. If they’re receiving the right level of guidance and support from their bosses, employees will tend to be more satisfied and productive in their role.
It may be obvious, but tailoring an employee satisfaction survey to ask about their attitudes towards their own jobs are essential for gaining an understanding of their happiness levels. Seek to understand how your employees feel in their current position, as well as their future intentions, as this will provide a clearer picture of whether or not your organisation is likely to retain staff in the long term.
3 effective ways to improve employee satisfaction
Knowledge is only as valuable as what it’s used for. After you’ve gauged sentiment through employee satisfaction surveys, you need to consider how you can act on learnings.
Here are three easily implementable ways to help boost satisfaction:
- Continual feedback loops
- Employee wellbeing initiatives
- Personalised capability development plans.
We all need feedback. It serves a few purposes other than to assess performance. Immediate feedback:
- Sets expectations and benchmarks against company standards
- Provides incremental nudges and course corrections
- Validates high performance
- Helps develop self-assessment skills.
Incorporate feedback into the workflow. Encourage managers to have regular one-on-ones with their team members. (This helps open the door for feedback from employees to their managers, too.) Make sure executives are involved – transparency matters. Be transparent about and seek opinions on company decisions. Moderated roundtables work because everyone feels like their contribution matters.
A work-life balance impacts employee engagement and satisfaction in a few ways. First, a clear delineation between their work and personal environments diminishes distractions for employees. Second, it shows that you care about your workforce beyond just the work – which brings us back to our point about satisfied employees staying with a company longer.
- Invoking something similar to a 60% rule. As in, 60% of the work week has to be in the office, but the other 40% employees can work from home.
- Along the same lines, flexible work hours. Let employees choose the hours when they’re most productive.
- Offering subsidised gym memberships and health programs.
- Ensuring overtime is not a cultural thing. Work conditions should respect that employees have personal lives and a limit on daily productivity.
Capability development plans
Consider this a shared vision for employees’ future with your organisation.
Getting the right people in the right seats ensures your organisation has enough capabilities where and when they’re needed. It also serves to improve employee engagement and satisfaction with more meaningful opportunities for professional development.
Personalised development plans visually map career progression for employees (by showing the gaps in their skillsets between where they are now to where they want to be). Give them partial autonomy to develop capabilities they’re interested in alongside those necessary to their job. When these interest capabilities are selected from a pool of organisational capabilities, you can still be sure that you’re deriving business value from L&D.
This increases job satisfaction on two fronts: Showing employees the links between their work and company objectives, and giving employees freedom to learn when they can.
To improve employees’ job satisfaction over time, you need to be able to implement changes to address problem areas. Understanding where these problem areas exist requires careful analysis of employee surveys over time.
This is one of the main advantages of implementing an LMS, as the access to people and learning data will allow you to make better, more informed decisions that reflect the needs of your employees. Once off the ground, any initiatives for improvement will need to be monitored for effectiveness.
Regardless of whether these changes have the desired outcome or not, employees should have a say in the steps you take to improve their job satisfaction. After all, how employees feel about your organisation, its processes and the culture is the foundation of satisfaction in the first place. Why not crowdsource the information necessary to boosting it?
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