How to Measure Employee Satisfaction
Are your employees satisfied? You can take a wild guess, or you can actually measure how satisfied your employees are using an Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) or employee satisfaction survey. According to one report, only 45 percent of workers said they were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with their jobs. If that number surprises you, any wild guesses you make definitely aren’t helping you improve your organization, and it’s time to learn how to measure employee satisfaction.
The Benefits of Measuring Employee Satisfaction
Before you rush to measure how satisfied your employees are, it’s best to have a solid base for what employee satisfaction really means and why it’s so beneficial to measure it. Employee satisfaction is a term used to describe how content employees are with aspects of their job like their employee experience and the organization they work for. Sometimes people use employee satisfaction and employee engagement interchangeably, but while they are tied together, they don’t quite mean the same thing. Engagement is tied to an employee’s output, which can be influenced by how satisfied they are with their job and organization.
Happy employees mean a happier company. When an employee knows their company cares about them, they’ll have an easier time supporting the company’s mission and will do more to achieve its goals.
There are several benefits of striving for higher employee satisfaction, including:
1. Reduced Turnover
A ping pong table won’t be enough to keep your best employees if they don’t feel valued and content with their job. Finding out what really matters to your teams so you can remove roadblocks and create a positive working environment will help keep your employees around for the long haul.
2. Improved Brand Image
As you create a better place to work, you’ll see a positive uptick in employee morale, and you’ll also see a lot more high-caliber candidates wanting to work for you.
3. Increased Productivity
Unhappy employees don’t have a great reputation for staying productive at work. Those unhappy workers cost the U.S. up to $550 billion every year. Measuring employee satisfaction can give you the data you need to target initiatives for boosting your workforce productivity and for measuring the effectiveness of those initiatives over time.
4. Getting Employee Feedback
Feedback from your employees will reveal crucial areas for improvement. Employees generally have a lot to say. A lot more than you might realize. And they deserve the chance to give their honest feedback. A walk through the office can’t give you the kind of data a survey or report can.
Now that you know why measuring employee satisfaction will be beneficial, the bigger question is how do I measure employee satisfaction. Good news! You’re about to find out.
How to Measure Job Satisfaction: eNPS versus Employee Satisfaction Surveys
There are two major ways that employers measure employee satisfaction, Employee Net Promoter Scores (eNPS) or the more traditional employee satisfaction survey. Both will arm you with data for tracking how satisfied your employees are throughout their lifecycle at your organization, but both also have some pros and cons.
However you gather job satisfaction data, it’s important to keep responses anonymous. “The nice things about these types of surveys is, you can do them in a way that makes employees feel comfortable sharing what they need to so the company can make decisions,” says Jack Altman, CEO and co-founder of Lattice.
Here is a more detailed look at both Employee Net Promoter Scores and employee satisfaction surveys so you can decide which one is right for your organization.
Employee Net Promoter Score
An Employee Net Promoter Score only requires your employees to answer three questions:
- On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend [your company] as a place to work?
- What do you like about [your company]?
- What do you dislike about [your company]?”
The eNPS was created by a researcher from Bain & Company in response to the lengthy traditional satisfaction surveys that take some heavy lifting to create and analyze. With just three questions, not only is an eNPS easy for employees to complete, but easy for leaders to assess.
How to Calculate eNPS
Employees respond to an eNPS with a number between zero and ten, zero being the lowest/least positive score and ten the highest/most positive. Those who respond with a nine or ten are considered promoters, seven or eight neutral, and zero through six detractors. To find your company’s eNPS, you subtract the percentage of detracts from the percentage of promoters to get a score somewhere between 100 and -100 (the neutrals don’t count for or against your final eNPS. Sorry, neutrals.)
For example, if you have 100 employees and 40 are promoters, 20 neutrals, and 30 detractors, you take 40% – 30% = 10. This would mean that you have an eNPS of 10. Anything above zero is considered positive, so 10 would be a nice result! You should feel great if your score is between 10 and 30 and fantastic if your score is above 40.
(Nine or ten) Your promoter employees are one of your organization’s strongest assets. They can give valuable insights on what is going right at your company and can be a great resource for recruiting new employees. According to anonymous data from 194 organizations using BambooHR Employee Satisfaction, those in leadership positions are more likely to be promoters than employees in any other position. Employees who have either just started with the company or are veteran employees are also the most likely to be promoters.
(Seven or eight) They probably aren’t out talking up your organization and actively recruiting new hires, but there’s also a slim chance they are bad-mouthing it. Neutral employees are not included in your final eNPS score, but their feedback still matters. These are employees that you have the best chance of turning into promoters.
(Six or below) Unfortunately, a score this low means your employee is probably not satisfied with their job and is at risk of leaving the company or, even worse, sticking around and bringing down morale for everyone around them. But that doesn’t mean you should give detractors the boot. Listen to your detractors. They probably have some great ideas on how you can improve your organization. And hopefully, through some thoughtful efforts and initiatives, you can raise your detractors to neutral, and maybe even one day promoters.
How Often Should You Measure eNPS
An eNPS can give you a good reading on the health of your organization and is even more beneficial as you are able to track how your eNPS changes over time. With just three questions, it’s easy to ask employees to spend 5 minutes responding, but you have to find the right balance for how often to poll employees. Too often and employees will be fatigued, less willing to participate, and less willing to provide additional feedback, but too infrequent and you won’t get the data you need to make real improvements. To strike a healthy balance, try for at least twice a year, and consider once every quarter
Don’t feel like you failed if every single person at your company doesn’t respond. Based on BambooHR research, we found the average participation rate was only 54 percent, and that is a lot of feedback to be missing out on. Organizations with the highest participation rates also generally have higher eNPS scores. A tool like BambooHR Employee Satisfaction with eNPS can be set up to automatically remind employees to respond so you don’t have to hunt anyone down for their answer.
An eNPS score is a great start to measuring employee satisfaction, and it provides a broad picture for your organization. But you may have to do some more digging to get all the information you need. “An eNPS is not a one-size-fits-all tool. It’s a very high-level tool, and it will illustrate high-level systemic problems in departments or maybe for your entire organization,” says Cassie Whitlock, director of HR at BambooHR. “After you’ve looked at those sections of your organization that need help, you’re then going to need some more detailed tools to respond to the individual issues that you’re going to see. Maybe for smaller sub-issues in your department or even for individual employees.” Company updates, regular one-on-ones with managers, performance reviews, and adding an open-ended feedback question on eNPS surveys can help you dive into smaller-scale growth areas at your company.
Employee Satisfaction Surveys
An employee satisfaction survey is a more freeform take on measuring how happy your employees are with their job and your organization. You get to decide how long the survey is, how it’s structured, and what you ask. While this can allow room for more specific questions, it does take more time to put together and analyze and won’t give you the clear-cut number of an eNPS. You’ll work hard for the data, but you’ll end up with a lot of information if you do things right.
Writing and Administering an Employee Satisfaction Survey
When writing an employee satisfaction survey, you want to make your survey long enough that you get the data you need, but not so long that you take employees away from their work for an extended time or bore them so much that they quit the survey part way through.
Keep your questions clear and easy to understand, but specific. As you are writing your questions, follow these tips from Qualtrics:
- Be simple, direct, comprehensible
- Be actionable
- Be specific and concrete
- Avoid jargon
- Avoid double-barreled questions
- Avoid negations
- Avoid leading questions
- Avoid emotionally charged words
- Be read smoothly out loud
- Allow for all possible responses
Your data will be most valuable if you can compare it from one survey to the next. So try to write questions that you can ask in repeated surveys. Keeping language consistent from year-to-year allows you to measure and compare changes. Try focusing on some of the following topics in your surveys:
- Inclusion and belonging
- Company culture
- Financial benefits
- Personal goals
- Health benefits
- Manager performance
- Career development
- Work environment
- Team performance
If you choose to create your own employee satisfaction survey, expect to spend quite a bit of time and resources on it. If it’s done right, you’ll get some great data that can help you propel your company forward.
How to Improve Employee Satisfaction Using Your Data
So you’ve got all this data. Now, what are you supposed to do with it? Start with comparing data between surveys. Focus on how you are watching employee satisfaction at your organization change. Did your eNPS rise after you introduced a new benefits package? Did your survey results come back more negative after you implemented a new time-tracking policy? When you notice trends in results and in the feedback your employees are offering, you can create an action plan. What exactly you need to do will largely depend on what kind of responses you get back, but these are some common actionable items that can improve employee satisfaction.
Become More Flexible with Schedules
If employees are unsatisfied with their work schedule, consider becoming more flexible. If it isn’t imperative that they come in at a specific time, give them more leeway on when they can come and go. Employees have a life outside of their 9-to-5 jobs, and sometimes that life overlaps with their work schedule. Allowing them to be flexible in their time can relieve a lot of stress and even increase their productivity.
Managers who insist on controlling everything their employees do can have a negative impact on work culture. Encourage managers to delegate responsibility more often and allow employees to find their own solutions to challenges. Trusting employees to do their jobs (and do them well) will foster more respect and satisfaction in the workplace for everyone.
Set Up Job Training and Other Education Opportunities
Employees never want to feel like they’ve hit a dead-end in their career. To prevent this, consider offering job training and other opportunities that help expand employees’ job horizons. As employees expand their skillsets and learn about new job possibilities, they’ll see a path forward in their careers instead of a brick wall. Plus, it shows that you value your employees beyond what they do for your company right now as you’re investing in their career development.
Cut Out Time Wasters
If employees feel like they waste a lot of time at work, it may be time to reorganize and streamline different processes. Cancel meetings if they no longer seem productive or valuable, and assess your employees’ workload to see if any busywork can be cut back. Chances are that plenty of inefficiencies have crept their way into your company, so take the opportunity to weed them out and make everyone’s life a little easier.
Create a Feedback Loop
Keep in mind as you assess results that you don’t have to respond to every single employee complaint or suggestion, but you do need to make it clear to your employees that you hear them. “There’s nothing more frustrating than listening but not hearing,” says Altman. “If you’re an employee and your company says, ‘Tell us how you feel?’ And then does nothing about it, you’re not going to be very likely to tell them how you feel the next time [they] ask. It’s really critical that you have feedback loops in place so that you and your managers and leadership team at your company respond to all of this…even if it’s just to say, ‘This quarter we’re going to focus on these other things and here’s why.’ People will really respect that.”
The easiest way to implement a strong feedback loop in your company is regular employee/manager one-on-ones. Over 90 percent of employees who receive positive recognition on a daily basis say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their company. Your managers should be meeting with their employees somewhere between weekly and monthly, depending on what works best for their team. Employees need a space to talk about their goals and challenges and to receive coaching from managers. One-on-ones don’t have to feel like a quick rush through an agenda; take your time and really enjoy the space to discuss how things are going.
Performance and 360-degree feedback reviews give you opportunities to reflect on individual performance and get formal feedback from peers and managers. Such complete, formal reviews have two major benefits. First, not every manager is quick to dole out praise and suggestions for improvement. It’s just not everyone’s style. But that doesn’t mean employees don’t need that feedback. Formal reviews make sure everyone at the company is getting the feedback they need. Second, quiet, reflective feedback can come out differently than off-the-cuff comments and suggestions that may come up in one-on-one meetings and during projects. Pausing to reflect on your own performance or the performance of one of your employees may yield some valuable insights.
You should be transparent about what the results of your survey are. When employees know they are being heard, they are more likely to continue sharing, and maybe even share more during your next employee satisfaction measurement. Altman advises that “Part of listening is mentioning to the other side that you hear them. …Let employees know the issues that you hear, and explain if you are going to address them and how you’re going to solve them.” The key to being transparent is:
- Informing every team
- Highlighting key issues
- Explaining clear solutions.
You can use your eNPS or survey results to assess the choices, benefits, and culture you are offering your employees. “It’s not about implementing everybody’s feedback,” says Whitlock. “It doesn’t mean you have to just accept what everybody says. Part of having healthy engagement at your company is having good communication skills.” Make sure that what your employees are requesting via survey feedback and what you are offering employees is appropriate and aligned with your values.
How Do You Know If Your Employees Are Happy?
While all of these numbers and data collection can be a huge help for improving customer satisfaction, they’re not the only indicator of happy workers. A quick observation of office behaviors can go a long way, and if you see any of these trends, you’re probably doing something right.
Between life and work, people can have plenty of good and bad days. But if your employees generally try to be positive and look on the bright side of any situation, those are satisfied workers.
Employees with strong work relationships is a great sign. Not only does having friends at work improve office morale, but it’s also great for productivity and keeping people motivated. This, in turn, can drive more collaboration on projects and bring people even closer.
Employees who are emotionally invested in their job usually go above and beyond their call of duty. Every manager wants team members who take initiative and put their heart into the work. If employees are as determined to perform well and produce quality work, it’s a win-win. They’re determined to do as good of a job as possible, which is only good news for the company.
Asking for Your Opinion
If your employees regularly seek feedback, that means they trust and value your opinion. And employees who have a good relationship with their boss are often happier workers.
Any good leader wants their employees to be satisfied, but it’s hard to really gauge how satisfied employees are without regular, consistent, anonymous feedback. In order to really improve and grow, you need input from your employees and follow-through from HR and leadership teams. Whether you go for the tried-and-tested Employee Net Promoter Scoring system or create an employee satisfaction survey specifically for your organization, turning that information into action will help you raise your scores, increase positive feedback, and create an incredible place to work for your employees.
Net Promoter, NPS, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.
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