Should employee satisfaction be a top priority for 2018?

By Robert Half 27 April 2018

In today’s workplace, employee happiness can no longer be considered as just a “nice-to-have”.

Instead, it should be viewed as a necessity, helping to drive productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, staff retention and more. Employee satisfaction is an important topic and one that many businesses are talking about. But is employee satisfaction one of your top priorities for 2018?

This blog takes a much deeper look at why employee satisfaction is so important and what the consequences of not focusing on it can be. There are also 11 effective tips to help drive employee satisfaction in your business.

Why is employee satisfaction so important?

Your team is a crucial part of your business. By ensuring everyone is satisfied with their role and their working environment, you will see more engaged, loyal, creative and productive employees.

Employee satisfaction will help your business to remain highly competitive. After all, happy employees help to create happy customers, which can ultimately help boost your overall profits.

What are the consequences of not focusing on employee satisfaction?

If employee satisfaction has fallen to the bottom of your priority list, it can have a detrimental impact on the success of your business. As mentioned above, happy employees can lead to happy customers. But the opposite is also true. Unhappy employees can lead to unsatisfied customers, which can negatively impact your bottom line.

If an employee is not satisfied with their job, their productivity levels can be low, they may not give 100% and morale can be affected, which can rapidly spread throughout the entire team. If employee satisfaction isn’t monitored and carefully managed, staff may decide to look for work elsewhere (possibly even with your competition). A high level of staff turnover is a big problem for businesses and is both timely and financially costly.

11 tips to encourage employee satisfaction

The good news is, employee satisfaction can be easily nurtured. Here are 11 changes you should consider making in your business:

1. Hire right – Ensuring you have satisfied employees starts before they’re even employed. Make sure you hire a candidate who not only has the necessary skills and experience, but who will fit well with your team and will be engaged with their work. A poor fit can have a negative impact on morale for your whole team.

2. Understand what makes your employees tick – Research from Robert Half’s It’s Time We All Work Happy report shows that no two employees have the same needs, goals, preferences and personalities. Whilst salary and job promotions might be a key factor for some, others may simply want to feel appreciated for their work. Take the time to talk to employees, one-on-one, to find out what makes them happy. Next, create a personalised plan to ensure they become more satisfied at work.

3. Empower employees – Employees who feel they are micromanaged and have no control over their career can rapidly become unhappy. Offer your support but give employees the opportunity to be creative and make their own decisions. Ask for their input too, to show their opinions are valued. You could start an open-door policy, run a brain-storming session or create an anonymous online survey. You may discover ideas that help everyone, or will resolve issues before they escalate, helping to retain a happy workforce.

4. Offer encouragement – It’s surprising how a simple “well done” or “thank you” can have such a big impact on someone’s morale, and it costs nothing. As a manager, make sure you take the time to let staff know that they are appreciated, whether they have achieved outstanding results, put in overtime, or have been a reliable member of the team.

5. Provide opportunities for growth – If an employee is left to feel like their career is at a dead-end, they can feel unhappy and look for a job elsewhere. If there isn’t anywhere for them to progress to right now, offer meaningful opportunities in a different department, or provide them with more responsibilities in their current role. You could even set up a mentorship scheme and encourage continued learning.

6. Encourage a better work-life balance – Employees are striving for a better work-life balance, so providing more control over schedules can be a good way to reduce stress and boost satisfaction levels. You could support flexible working hours and remote work. Make it easier for employees to take their annual leave too and encourage boundaries to help protect valuable downtime.

7. Create friendly competition – Over time, employees can feel like they’re stuck in a repetitive routine, which can cause morale levels to drop. Setting targets, offering rewards and running friendly (and fair) competitions can drive staff to be more driven and productive.

8. Encourage professional relationships – Our research reveals that those who have good relationships with colleagues are 2.7 times more likely to be happy on the job, than those who do not get along with others on their team. Encourage positive social connections by reviewing your office layout, celebrating birthdays as a team, making space for employees to eat lunch together or set up social events outside of work hours.

9. Reconsider the office environment – Employees spend a lot of time in the office, so don’t underestimate the effect of the physical environment on their happiness. Make it a more satisfying place to work with a coat of paint, by adding some plants and posters, and providing comfortable chairs.

10. Promote good overall health – Poor mental or physical health can have a significant impact on an employee’s work, as well as their happiness. Aim to improve mental health by encouraging screen breaks, having meetings outside in the summer, or by hosting lunchtime yoga classes. Educate staff on the importance of good physical health, provide free fruit in the office and some businesses even offer discounted gym memberships.

11. Offer surprises – Sometimes it’s the small, unexpected surprises that can have the biggest impact on employee satisfaction. As an example, you could buy everyone an ice cream on a hot summer day or crack open a bottle of bubbly after a big win.

The good news is, Australian employees are generally happy at work. However, it’s still important to monitor employee satisfaction and put steps in place to help improve it.

As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Try these steps and work out what works best for your business. Even small steps can make a big difference. You need to keep working on your employee satisfaction strategy though, so employee happiness remains high. You’ll have more content customers and a more successful business as a result.

To find out more about the benefits of having happy employees and factors that influence employee satisfaction, read our full report: 'The Secrets of the Happiest Companies and Employees'.

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