Job Satisfaction: Necessity or Luxury?

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When unemployment rates are uncomfortably high and profit levels flat, businesses may inappropriately reason that surveying employees about their job satisfaction is a luxury that only mega-corporations can afford. However, research tells us that job satisfaction is correlated with greater customer loyalty, better safety, lower absenteeism, and lower turnover rates.  And while some employers understand the far-reaching implications of job satisfaction and consider the measurement of job satisfaction a priority, it is more common for businesses to believe that looking into job satisfaction is a luxury or – worse yet – only an opportunity to allow employees to complain.

Measuring employees’ job satisfaction is the quickest and most cost-efficient way to gain insight about retention issues, managerial problems, safety concerns, and overall happiness of employees at work.

What do employees want?

A 2009 survey the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) looked at 24 factors that are regularly thought to relate to employee satisfaction. The study found that employees identified these five factors as most important:

  • job security,
  • benefits (especially health care) with the importance of retirement benefits rising with the age of the employee,
  • compensation/pay,
  • opportunities to use skills and abilities, and
  • feeling safe in the work environment.

This information clarifies the priorities of management.  The factors above can be easily transformed into employee questions – questions management needs to address:

  • Will I continue to have this job in the future?
  • Will my organization continue to provide medical and retirement benefits?
  • Is my compensation fair and equitable?
  • Are my skills being used to benefit the company?
  • Does my employer make every effort to provide a physically safe work environment?

How can employers address these concerns?  First, start regularly assessing employee satisfaction.  Second, communicate how the organization is constantly working to alleviate employee concerns.  The unknown creates fear, and fear reduces productivity.  A constant stream of information that highlights the progress of the organization, and what it’s doing to help customers and employees, eliminates fear. Third, repeat.

Mega-organizations like Apple, Nike and Starbucks use information garnered from employee satisfaction surveys to become better at what they do every day because they realize it’s a necessity, not a luxury.

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