A quick guide to measuring & improving employee satisfaction

Author: Chris Radley

Over the last year or so, I’ve written at length about the importance of employee satisfaction.

So by now, you know that international research (and my observations after years of experience in the industry) highlight that the more satisfied your employees are, the better your business will perform. Happy employees are more motivated, efficient and proactive, and they willingly embrace new ways of working. So as your business evolves to meet future challenges, your people are by your side, driving changes, not being reluctant participants.

The payoff of having a workforce of satisfied employees includes lower rates of absenteeism, more positive attitudes towards your company from existing and past workers (helping attract new generations of resources and reducing staff churn), and a healthier bottom line.

While that’s all very well, how do you know if your employees are genuinely satisfied, rather than just paying lip service to your requests for feedback? And when you do have some honest answers and valid suggestions, how do you use them to improve your workplace?

4 ways you can measure employee satisfaction

  1. Run anonymous staff surveys to get an instant overview

While as employers and managers we’d like to think we’re approachable, the reality is that we’re not always perceived that way by the people around us. Employees can fear the reaction to honest feedback, or in some (hopefully very rare) cases - potential retaliation. Anonymous surveys help you gather quantitative data which can be analysed and reported on as percentages, rather than collecting random ideas and suggestions which require manual interpretation and aggregation.

To add real value to your surveys, include an employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) question to each. An eNPS will provide you with a metric you can use to build an ongoing and overall picture. Note: You must use the same question every time for an eNPS to be of value!

Speech bubble
  1. Run quick weekly surveys on different topics

Keep your finger on the pulse of employee sentiment with a quick 4-5 question survey every week. Stick to ‘yes, no, maybe, not likely, likely and very likely response options where possible so you can rapidly tabulate and report on the results. Short surveys are also less likely to suffer from the abandonment issues of more extensive ones!

Topics can include:

  • Soliciting feedback on pay parity within the business or industry
  • Facilities, and quality and availability of equipment and tools needed to do the job at hand
  • Health and safety issues (like pandemics!)
  • Hours worked on an average day/week
  • Stress levels
  • IT/HR support
  • Voting on preferences for a specific benefit or perk (like having a fully paid day off for a birthday), or choosing company charities, social club events, or Christmas party venues

Acknowledge or share the results (with the entire company where appropriate), or with a smaller management group to provide more detailed feedback or suggestions if required. As much as anything, these surveys tell your employees that you care about and value their input.

 

  1. Have face-to-face conversations to track progress

Goal-based and scheduled confidential conversations help develop a qualitative view of employee satisfaction. These can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The objective of these meetings should be to find out how satisfied an employee is with their role, their team, and the company. Tip: Commit to a set cadence of conversations to demonstrate to individual employees that their feedback matters, and that they are being listened to.

Helpful questions could include:

  • Asking what the worker feels the company does well
  • What they would change about their job if they could
  • What they would like to be a more significant part of their role
  • Thoughts on the performance of their team
  • Where they see themselves in two and five years (to help stay on track with meeting their career progression path).

 

  1. Monitor online employee sentiment

We are used to having tools to help us monitor both positive and negative customer feedback about our brand and service. This concept can also be applied to our ‘internal’ customers – our employees. Sentiment analysis can improve workforce engagement and your ability to respond positively and proactively. While still in its early stages, AI (artificial intelligence) can help you gauge employees’ feelings and attitudes by analysing information shared on your business’ technology platforms (including popular topics of discussion, workplace trends and issues, keywords, emojis and more).

A woman answering a survey

10 things you can do to improve employee satisfaction

Once you understand how your employees are feeling, you can focus on improving their level of satisfaction. Here’s our list of tried and true ways to lift happiness to a new high:

  1. Work towards a common cause

Choose a charity or cause to work towards collectively. This could include volunteer days or fund-raising events. Feature photos and progress on your company intranet.

  1. Team building – an oldie but a goodie

If you can hold team building events externally (bowling, rock climbing, sailing) then great, but not every business can do this especially if small and on a tight budget. Try team quizzes, problem-solving and ‘who am I’ games to encourage bonding and to get people to know one another better.

  1. Feed your team

Company lunches – pizza Fridays never fail to please! Or free fruit bowls, weekly muffins or after-work drinks if it fits your company culture. If that’s all getting too expensive or hard, encourage international lunches where teams bring and share dishes which represent their culture.

  1. Happy “xxx” day!

Acknowledge achievements with a cake! It doesn’t take much to say well done, and a cake for morning tea is something that all employees get to share, so the sentiment goes a long way.

  1. Be flexible and fabulous

Is there an international sports game or big event due to be televised at 4 pm on a workday? Either let staff finish early, or suggest a companywide early start so everyone can knock off to catch the event without impacting productivity.

  1. Internal awards ceremony (complete with trophies or certificates)

Hold a monthly or annual awards ceremony to recognise employees who have gone over and beyond employer and teammate expectations. A little kudos and applause go a long way! Add an awards page to your intranet, and call out the recipients in internal management comms.

  1. On the quiet

Not all employees are comfortable about speaking up when they see or experience workplace harassment, abuse or potential fraud or theft. Consider implementing whistle-blower software to provide tip-offs or feedback on activities which impact employee satisfaction - anonymously.

  1. Making working for you rewarding

Recognise exceptional performance, outstanding customer support, or just generosity of time and spirit, with a bonus. Cash is always nice (being real here), but movie or concert tickets, hampers, vouchers, and gift cards are always acceptable! On a larger scale, offer discount rates for local gym memberships or coffee purchases, or access to negotiated discounts from service and retail partners.

  1. Industry recognition

Nominating employees for industry awards, or even asking them to represent you at events, conferences, and conventions (post-COVID-19) not only shows you trust and appreciate them but provides opportunities for workers to advance their skills.

  1. Get real

While being a ‘nice’ employer will go a long way to improving workplace satisfaction, it’s not a real fix for the more serious employee issues. Employees who feel undervalued, overworked, and under-rewarded need concrete actions, not cakes and pizza.  

 

Perhaps the problem is not with the employee, but your company culture. Maybe your business isn’t aligned with current salary levels and expectations, or it just fails to deliver the HR support needed to develop and champion a happy workplace.

Or maybe it simply doesn’t have the people-centric tools and systems needed to recognise, measure, monitor and act on employee sentiment - until it’s too late?

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