How to Improve Employee Satisfaction: Top 5 Data-Driven Solutions

Backed with data, read our five key ways for how to improve employee satisfaction within your organisation.

How to improve employee satisfaction.

Before we highlight the innovative ways to improve employee satisfaction, it's probably wise to set the scene.

Employee satisfaction levels reflect the sentiment and culture of the company. Happy and satisfied people will work harder, streamline processes and massively improve culture. Paving the way for better recruitment and staff retention.

Satisfaction breeds satisfaction. Dissatisfaction breeds dissatisfaction. One unhappy staff member can bring down a whole team by spreading negativity, demonstrating presenteeism and speaking badly about the company and its people. By tackling this at the source, you will ensure that any unnecessary, yet, detrimental negativity can be avoided which could hinder staff culture, morale and business performance.

Employee satisfaction is a powerful metric to look at because it helps enable your staff to be happier and more engaged at work. It's basically a catalyst for employee engagement. Research from The Harvard Business Review's Analytics Services report suggests that 71% of business executives surveyed consider employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organisational success. Considering the close link between the two progressive businesses will focus on employee satisfaction as much as engagement.

Data From Our Employee Satisfaction Study

The definitions: The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a globally recognisable measurement system for businesses to understand customer satisfaction and loyalty. The Employee Net Promotor Score (eNPS) is the version that businesses use to gauge employee satisfaction and loyalty. Simple right?

Our global eNPS study was created to uncover the main factors businesses must consider so they can create happy and satisfied employee advocates. Which will create a happier workplace for everyone, improve retention and increase overall business performance.

Our research revealed the top-five factors that most impact employee happiness, satisfaction and engagement are:

  • Recognition (feeling valued).

  • Communication.

  • Job Security/Stability.

  • Direction.

  • Leadership.

Discover the specific issues respondents raised, and our strategies for success to ensure your people remain highly happy!

1. Recognition: Appreciating Effort & Input

  • Employees highlighted a desire to be valued and respected for the work they are doing.

  • Some mentioned that they even stretch themselves and do tasks outside of their role in order to be recognised.

  • Promotions and higher wages were recurring themes. There's lots of promise but no return in this area, yet increases in workload and expectation are piled on as time progresses.

  • Salaries are not covering basic living costs. This results in staff working overtime, which massively impacts work-life balance.

Our Strategy:

We're all motivated in different ways, so it's important to recognise efforts in a manner that caters to everyone and is matched to the achievement of the individual.

Some employees will appreciate verbal acknowledgement, public addresses or even mentions in newsletters. Others will expect promotions, bonuses, gift vouchers and other material benefits. A pat on the back won't cut it for everyone.

Recognition is strongly linked to communication. If management checks in regularly with their people and understand their efforts and workload, they will be able to easily recognise the input and also understand what sort of rewards will motivate different people.

2. Communication: What Works Best For Your People?

  • Employees highly value honesty and openness.

  • Relevant information is not always properly communicated between departments.

  • Consistent engagement with line managers is crucial as staff thought their ideas could bring in new perspectives.

  • Regular ongoing feedback was also a recurring theme and labelled as 'essential'.

Our Strategy:

Your people will only communicate effectively if they feel they are being listened to. Otherwise, what's the point?

Learn what works best for you, and your teams. Online messaging tools (Hangouts, Slack, WhatsApp) are very effective. As well as email, regular face-to-face meetings or even employee engagement surveys and people analytics tools to help you listen, respond, create actions then communicate those actions. By encouraging communication and leading by example it will trickle from the top, down in your business creating a culture of openness, collaboration and trust. This will empower everyone to communicate openly.

3. Job Security: Create a Stable & Safe Environment

  • Employees are concerned about how their job is going to progress in the future.

  • They worry that the changes to the business will affect career progression and job stability.

  • Concerns around rapid growth affecting working environments.

Our Strategy:

It's not just external factors that can cause insecurity and confusion M&As, cutbacks,
senior appointments and relocations will have a huge impact too.

The best way to guide your staff through periods of change to keep them engaged, motivated and able to deal with change is simply to be open and communicate effectively. If your business is going through rapid change, or you're having problems it's always best to speak with your people and keep everyone updated with the bits they need-to-know. People will likely find out anyway and you will be considered dishonest and untrusting for not sharing this information with your people.

A clear vision goes a very long way. It will help to guide your people, offer stability when everything else is changing and remind people that the business goals have not changed. If you get people on board with your vision, they are far more likely to be empowered to help your business get through a tricky period.

4. Direction: Create a Roadmap to Success

  • Employees are concerned about how their job is going to progress in the future.

  • They worry that the changes to the business will affect career progression and job stability.

  • The concerns originate from the many changes that commonly occur within specific departments, causing employees to worry about the consistency of their future.

Our Strategy:

There's a recurring theme here... communication. If people are unsure about the direction of the business, how their role is changing or anything else then you must encourage people to speak with you or a line manager.

It's good practice to meet with people regularly to discuss their individual targets and roadmaps to achieving their goals. This is also a great opportunity for someone senior to witness input and demonstrate recognition for people's efforts.

Keep everyone up to date with progress, accomplishments, next steps and future targets. A clear and open view will provide clarity, ease concerns and motivate everyone to succeed. All of which will go a long way towards creating happy, satisfied and high-performing workers.

5. Leadership: Empathise & Understand

  • Employees mention the need for regular visits from the senior management as they are too infrequent.

  • Managers treatment of staff can be inhumane and too much is expected from them with little to no reward.

  • Reliability and consistency are lacking when it comes to delivering information.

Our Strategy:

If you want to be a good business leader then you must understand your people. Speak to them, learn the business pain points and demonstrate you care. By putting yourself in their shoes and considering how you would feel if your business was going through big changes it should help you to communicate with your people in a way that will really resonate with them. This will position you as an empathetic and understanding leader.

You won't be an expert in every task but it's essential to learn what you can so you can advise, motivate and recognise excellent performance in each team.

You must be honest! Don't just tell people the good news and don't sugar-coat the bad bits. When there's bad news, it's wise to include your plans to counter this problem and expectations and forecasts of the future. Put simply, don't let anyone discover any nasty surprises that should have been communicated by someone at the top.

Implement Employee Satisfaction Surveys

On top of the strategies, there's one overarching way you can discover what your people want to see in order to make them happier and more fulfilled at work... you can ask them!

By implementing people analytics and employee satisfaction survey programmes you can get regular feedback from your people. This can involve ideas, concerns, innovations, complaints or even just be a platform for venting. Guess what? All of that will massively help you to understand the sentiment of your business, visualise your culture and easily create action plans to combat concerns and create a team of happy and engaged workers. This will empower you to create positive change based on data... not merely assumption or instinct! It will also position you as an empathetic and understanding leader which (as previously mentioned) is a key trait for any successful business leader. Do all of this and employee satisfaction will look after itself... I promise!

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Linked to Happiness & Engagement in our neuroscience methodology... learn more

Recommended reading

Employee Engagement: What You Need To Know

What Is eNPS & How Can You Improve It?

Vivobarefoot: A B-Corp Transformation Journey

About The Happiness Index

The Happiness Index helps organisations measure the key employee engagement AND happiness drivers to power their people strategy.

Our unique platform offers the products, insights and tools to shine a light on your cultural health and empower management to drive thriving cultures.

Our neuroscience-based pre-built surveys measure the full employee experience - from onboarding to exit to empower and enable organisations to understand their people and create data-led action plans.


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