As a leader or manager, you want satisfied employees: people who are excited to come to work, motivated to do a good job, and open to changes and collaboration.
Employees who are satisfied tend to be:
- Happier, more content, and more motivated at work.
- More productive.
- Absent fewer days.
- Better able to collaborate and network with colleagues.
- More likely to positively spread the word about your organization as brand advocates.
- More likely to stay at your organization for a long time, reducing employee churn.
Ultimately, satisfied employees give back to your company, making it grow into the best place it can be.
But how do you measure employee satisfaction? How do you know if the critiques that comes from your employees are serious signs they’re dissatisfied, or if they’re standard run-of-the-mill suggestions?
And once you’ve figured out how you’re doing, how can you make improvements? You not only want to ensure your employees are satisfied, but you want to improve their experiences at your company as time goes by.
In this post, you’ll find how you can measure employee satisfaction, as well as how you can improve it.
How to Measure Employee Satisfaction
You can’t understand where to improve if you don’t know what areas you’re lacking! Here are some ways you can measure employee satisfaction:
Have One-on-One Conversations
Imagine you work for an organization with 40 people. It’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll get one-on-one time with them naturally. So, schedule one-on-one conversations. Many companies have these types of conversations on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Be clear about the goals of these sessions. Ultimately, you want to find out about how satisfied the employee is with their roles and the company as a whole.
When you enter into one of these conversations, don’t go with an agenda. Come up with a series of questions to ask the employees, then listen to their answers. Here are some good questions to ask employees in a one-on-one meeting:
- What are some things you think we’re doing well?
- What aren’t we doing well?
- If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be?
- What do you wish you were doing more of?
- Do you think the team is successful at working together? Why or why not?
- Do you see yourself here in five years? Why or why not?
Record what they say. You can ask employees to clarify what they mean, but don’t get defensive if they say something you don’t agree with.
Sometimes it’s difficult for employees to express themselves to their leader or manager, especially if they are concerned about how the other party will take it. That’s why surveys, especially anonymous ones, can be helpful tools. Surveys also help you get quantitative data, rather than just a bunch of ideas and suggestions.
For example, if you ask employees if they feel generally satisfied with their job, you’ll get a percentage who say they are, and a percentage who’ll say they aren’t. These percentages will help you gage how you’re doing instantly.
To conduct a survey, use SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, TinyPulse, 15Five, or any survey tool and send it to everyone in the company. Make sure you can make the surveys anonymous, so that employees will be as honest as possible about their feelings.
Read Between the Lines
Sometimes, the satisfaction of your employees won’t be completely obvious, so it’s your job to read between the lines. Even if you have the best intentions, one-on-one conversations might go no where. Employees might be intimidated by your position of leadership.
Do some research and learn about salaries in your area to see if what you’re offering is competitive. If you’re paying below market rate, your employees know that. They’re probably not satisfied with their pay, and could be looking for new opportunities, or simply feeling bad.
Talk to friends outside the office and ask them what they’re biggest issues at their jobs are, to see if you’re having any similar issues at your own offices. Talk to other leaders at your company to see what they think– are their employees satisfied? What could be done to improve?
How to Improve Employee Satisfaction
Once you’ve measured the current level of contentment at your company, the real work begins. You can improve employee satisfaction by trying these tips:
Attack the Real Issues
A satisfied employee is happy with their workplace as a whole, so you won’t get anywhere if you solve the problems with bandaids. Many managers see that their employees are less than satisfied, and they try out sudden, sweeping gestures, in the hopes that employees will see how much they care. Unfortunately, a fun party or a spontaneous pizza party aren’t going to suddenly make your employees satisfied.
Instead, you need to attack the real issues your employees are having, even though they’re probably hard to fix. If employees feel overworked, you have to find a way to create a more balanced workload. If employees feel underpaid, you have to figure out a plan to increase salaries.
If Necessary, Make Big Changes
Imagine you’re a writer working at an organization that paid you pennies to write thousands upon thousands of words per day. Your satisfaction isn’t going to be solved by a small raise or a minor cut in word count. In order for this kind of organization to thrive, leaders would have to make large changes in how they conduct business. They might bring in a business consultant to set them on the right path, and change the way they structured jobs.
Employees can get on fine without snacks and parties, but they suffer when they feel they are undervalued, underpaid, and overworked. You may need to make large changes to improve employee satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to take risks to make it happen.
Bring in a Consultant
You’re a leader, not a mind reader, and you’re so wrapped up in your organization that it can be difficult for you to see how you can improve. Organizational psychologists and executive coaches can see things you can’t– that’s why it’s worth calling them up.
These psychologists and coaches can lead workshops and sessions, take surveys, and help you come up with a plan for improvement. Coaches can come with a price tag– a Harvard Business Review survey of coaches said the average hourly rate is $500– but many coaches are satisfied with the results.
Harvard Business Review also offers advice on what to look for in a coach, based on what those who’ve hired coaches say. Sixty-five percent recommend hiring a coach or psychologist that has experience coaching in a similar setting.
Keep It Light
No one likes to feel like they’re in trouble. Just because you’re trying to improve a big issue like satisfaction doesn’t mean you need to make it heavy and confrontational. Sometimes, when you ask employees tough questions, they can get defensive and worry that their jobs are in danger.
Remind your employees that you’re doing this so you can create a better place to work, and that their honesty and participation will make the process easier, and ultimately result in a better work environment for them.
Employee Satisfaction Builds a Great Company
How can you build a great, profitable organization if your employees don’t like coming to work? As a leader and manager, it’s on you to work to improve employee satisfaction. If you’re able to do so, you’ll create a more productive workplace, reduce employee churn, and ultimately build a better, stronger company.How To Measure & Boost Employee Satisfaction Chad Halvorson