10 Proven Methods to Improve Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is a very important factor in the success of any modern-day organisation especially considering the impact it has on performance and profits. Let’s go through 10 proven methods to improve employee satisfaction.

However, contrary to popular belief, employee satisfaction isn’t just about offering workers higher pay but rather more about making small, non-financial work life changes that can have a long-term effect on the engagement and motivation levels of your team members.

For far too long, the attitude in most workplaces has been that work is a burden to bear rather than a journey to enjoy.

Both managers and employees have traditionally approached work as an arena of life where satisfaction should be the last thing on anyone’s mind – just grit your teeth and keep going.

Until recently, the society we live in has unquestioningly embraced being dissatisfied with one’s job as a fact and way of life. We believe work is just the thing we have to endure in order to access the good things in life. We see it in movies, hear it in songs, and casually joke about hating our jobs with friends.

Given that we spend roughly a third of our whole lives at work, this means that we are also spending a very significant chunk of our lives suffering.

Fortunately, more and more business leaders are waking up to this fact especially with the modern workforce increasingly dominated by millennial employees who have a whole different outlook and set of expectations on how work, and life as a whole, should be.

These days, companies can no longer afford to ignore employee satisfaction because the business world has realised that it impacts organisations in vital areas –  from talent retention to customer service.

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Let’s go through these ten key methods you can use to improve employee satisfaction at your company.

10 effective ways to improve employee satisfaction

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Listen, listen, listen

Listen, listen, listen

This seems so obvious but many organisations skip this initial, vital step. You can’t improve what you can’t measure and the only way to measure employee satisfaction to listen. Genuinely listening to your employees gives you a real sense of the state of your workplace.

It allows you to detect big problems early on and helps you find the necessary solutions to deal with them before they get out of hand.

An employee survey is one of the most reliable methods to listen and find out how you can improve employee satisfaction. You should aim to ask questions that will not only reveal any problems your employees may be facing but also offer hints of what the best solutions to those problems are.

Here are a few examples of great employee survey questions to help improve employee satisfaction:

  • Do you feel motivated to find and suggest new and improved ways of doing your job?
  • Does your job give you a sense of personal achievement beyond just getting paid?
  • Do you feel well-equipped and adequately resourced to perform your job well?
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Improve Employee Satisfaction: Communicate often and honestly

Communicate often and honestly

Listening alone won’t do the job when it comes to improving employee satisfaction. You have to complete the loop by giving your team the same regular, authentic communication you need from them. Keep in mind that your employees crave feedback – both for what they are doing well and what they are failing at.

Lack of critique is often as demoralizing as lack of encouragement because it shows the employee that you would rather gloss over their issues than push them to be better at their job.

This frequent and honest communication from you can take the form of weekly/fortnightly meetings with teams or individuals where you offer company updates and solicit any specific questions and/or concerns they may have.

This practice not only lowers the chances of misunderstandings and confusion in the workplace but also nurtures that all-important sense of trust between employees and managers.

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Make employee health a priority

Make employee health a priority

Due to the high cost of lost productivity, employee health is no longer something to be left entirely to the employee but rather a joint effort that the employer should have a significant contribution to.

Workplace stress from the increasingly competitive modern business environment coupled with the desk bound nature of office life is having a negative effect on employee health, causing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse as well as physical ailments like obesity, hypertension and heart disease.

Organisations can support employees to be healthier and hence improve employee satisfaction by:

  • encouraging employees to take walking meetings;
  • offering employees educational seminars on key health issues;
  • making sure employees always take their available breaks and leave;
  • providing employees healthier food (preparation) choices in the workplace, and;
  • subsidizing gym memberships for employees or even having an in-house gym at the office.

Medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs. (HealthAffairs.org)

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Give your employees purpose

Give your employees purpose

Human beings have an innate need to know that their work counts for something bigger than just money – that they are contributing to something really important. Employees in a workplace that lacks a strong sense of purpose are likely to be dissatisfied with their jobs no matter how well paid they are.

This is why it’s important to clearly define and share your company’s mission and core values:

  • What inspires you as a business leader to get out of bed every morning?
  • What difference is your organisation trying to make in the world?
  • What is your company looking to achieve beyond just profit targets?
  • What things do you stand for and what things won’t you stand at all?

Every employee needs to know the answers to these questions, as well as how they are individually contributing to making these answers a reality, in order to have real sense of meaning in the work.

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Improve Employee Satisfaction: Goals

Set realistic goals

Once you have a clear mission in place, the next step is to break it down into a set of goals that can keep every employee’s efforts consistently aligned with the mission and give them a clear sense of how their individual contribution is helping.

When employees don’t know exactly what effect their efforts are having on the larger picture, they inevitably become bored, disillusioned and dissatisfied with their jobs.

However, it’s important to not get carried away – be realistic with your expectations. Unrealistic expectations from the company breed nothing but stress, anxiety, and frustration amongst employees. This is why setting SMART goals is one of the most reliable methods to improve employee satisfaction.

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Break the monotony of routine

Break the monotony of routine

Yes, routine is very useful because it saves employees’ decision-making focus for the most important decisions but too much of it is counterproductive as it nurtures boredom. This is why breaking your employees out of their daily rut is one of the most effective ways to improve employee satisfaction.

This can be something as simple as:

  • randomly giving them a half day off;
  • an offsite team-building exercise such as a picnic;
  • scheduling a group fitness activity such as hiking;
  • surprising them with a special treat such as gourmet pizza, and;
  • organising an office competition for a fun prize.
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Recognise and celebrate their achievements

Recognise and celebrate their achievements

Showing your gratitude when they hit key milestones is another very effective method to improve employee satisfaction because it not only shows the individual how much they are appreciated but also offers a great opportunity for everyone to come together and joyfully bond as a community.

Keep in mind that this appreciation doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a pay rise, bonus or promotion – it can be something as simple as movie tickets, gift cards, or lunch at their favorite restaurant. You should also make sure to give them an honorable mention at the team meeting.

58% of employees want more recognition and praise (Psychometrics engagement study)

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Encourage workplace friendships

Encourage workplace friendships

Going to work can sometimes feel like a chore, but when you have genuine friends to look forward to at the office, it feels more and more like a fun adventure with loved ones every day. This is why nurturing friendships at work is a great way to improve employee satisfaction.

When there’s a real personal connection between team members, they are more likely to enjoy their work and cooperate better.

Naturally, you can’t force people to become friends but what you can do is provide the right atmosphere for your employees to make and build genuine personal connections with their colleagues by:

  • setting up workstations such that employees can see each other and talk;
  • organising office celebrations for employees’ birthdays or job anniversaries, and;
  • encouraging them to participate in out-of-office group activities such as charity runs.
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Improve Employee Satisfaction: Groom great managers

Groom great managers

We’ve all heard it before – people leave managers, not jobs. In most companies, the typical employee interacts with their manager on a daily basis, and may never even need to meet the CEO. This is why hiring and training great managers is such an effective method to improve employee satisfaction.

Unfortunately many companies suffer from poor management due to selecting managers based on their success in a previous non-managerial role instead of their leadership skills. You should be looking out for vital qualities such as emotional intelligence, great communication, empathy, and time management.

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Advance their careers

Advance their careers

A powerful way to improve employee satisfaction is to show your long-term commitment to their personal career growth. When employees understand that you have a genuine interest in them learning more and becoming better, they are more likely to make sacrifices on their end for the company.

This can be done by offering them regular coaching and mentoring sessions, opportunities to attend conferences and other industry events as well as subsidizing their further formal education. Above all, you should make sure they have the time to indulge in these opportunities by not overworking them.

72% of employees don’t think management cares about their career growth. (HR Dive/Monster)

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In Summary

A business is only as strong as its employees. With retention and engagement now more important than ever for businesses world over today, figuring out how to improve employee satisfaction should be on every manager’s agenda in every modern-day company agenda to ensure consistent success.

To recap the 10 methods, they are;

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Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.