Employee Satisfaction

What Is Employee Satisfaction?

Employee satisfaction measures how content employees are with their roles. Many factors can drive this contentment (or discontentment), including compensation, growth opportunities, employment stability, and job outlook.

A high satisfaction level indicates that employees are happy with how their employer treats them. A low satisfaction level clearly shows that employees are not as happy.

Employee satisfaction is an important HR metric that often acts as an indicator of an organization’s overall health. It can impact productivity, performance, and turnover. This is why many organizations feel it’s essential to continually measure employee satisfaction and track trends over time.

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Employee Satisfaction vs. Employee Engagement

Often, employee satisfaction is used interchangeably with employee engagement; however, there are some distinctions. Employee engagement is one factor influencing overall satisfaction—and it may be said the reverse is also somewhat true. However, the two are not the same.

Employee satisfaction, while important for retention, isn’t necessarily a predictor of performance, while engagement—which indicates an employee’s passion for their work, among other things—is directly tied to output. Ideally, satisfaction occurs as a result of both material factors like compensation and benefits as well as less tangible elements like engagement, recognition, and strong leadership.

If an organization fails to address both sides of the equation, they may find they have a complacent team made up of materially satisfied employees who are content to do only what’s required to remain employed or a staff of highly engaged employees who are performing well while they look for new opportunities at companies more willing or able to fill their material needs.

How to Measure Employee Satisfaction

Measuring and tracking employee satisfaction over time is crucial for determining when sentiment among your workforce is on a downward spiral. Catching this issue early ensures that you have enough time to get things back on track before it affects productivity, performance, or loyalty.

Fortunately, there are multiple tools to measure employee satisfaction. You can use the following methods to help you build the most complete and accurate picture of employee satisfaction across your organization.

Employee Net Promoter Scores (eNPS)

Using the Employee Net Promoter Score* is much simpler than developing your own employee satisfaction survey. This is because eNPS surveys focus on just one question: On a scale of zero to 10 (with 10 being “extremely likely”), how likely is the employee to recommend your company to someone else as a good place to work?

Net Promoter Scores range from -100 to +100. Before you can calculate your score, you must first place all employee scores into three categories: promoters (scores of nine or ten), neutrals (scores of seven or eight), and detractors (scores of six or below).

Then, you need to add up all of the ratings and determine the percentage of detractors and the percentage of promoters. Finally, subtract the detractor percentage from the promoter percentage.

The basic premise for this survey rests on the idea that loyal and satisfied employees who love their workplace wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that others work there, too. When eNPS scores are low, it indicates that employees are much less satisfied.

*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.

Employee Satisfaction Surveys

An employee satisfaction survey uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions to determine what employees like and dislike most about working at your organization.

The benefit of these types of surveys is that they can be structured any way you want and include questions designed to understand sentiment in a particular area, such as compensation, manager feedback, or daily workload.

Quantitative questions will often ask employees to rank their sentiments on a numerical scale. For example, you may ask employees to rank how meaningful they believe their work is on a scale of one to five (with five being “very meaningful” and one being “not meaningful at all”). This allows you to determine average scores and track whether they rise or fall over time.

Qualitative questions are usually more open-ended. For example, instead of asking employees to rate how meaningful their daily tasks are, you may ask them whether they feel their work is meaningful and then have them explain their answers. These questions will give you insight into how your employees think about their jobs and what their feelings are toward different elements of the workplace.

While it’s easier to track trends with quantitative employee satisfaction surveys, you can still do so with qualitative questions. It just requires a little more effort to read through every answer, discover themes in employee responses, and track how those themes become more prevalent, disappear, or change over time.

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How to Improve Employee Satisfaction

Only 51% of Americans are satisfied with their job overall. That means nearly half of employees are experiencing some level of dissatisfaction at work.

Knowing the negative impact that this dissatisfaction can have on organizational health and performance, it’s crucial that business leaders begin taking steps to improve these statistics. For those who aren’t sure where to begin, here are some suggestions you can start implementing now to help shift employee sentiment in your organization.

Provide Robust Support

First impressions matter—44% of new hires have regrets in the first week. Some of the most cited reasons for their frustration include not having a clear point of contact for questions, not having enough training, and not having access to essential tools and technology.

Satisfying employees means ensuring they have the HR and IT support they need to be successful in their positions right from the start.

Help Employees Build Relationships

Employees who have a best friend at work are much more likely to report higher levels of job satisfaction. This is why employers should help their teams form relationships with each other through team-building activities. These can help employees not only build communication and collaboration skills but also get to know one another on a deeper level.

Make Employees Feel Included

If you find that employees are dissatisfied with the decisions being handed down from senior leadership, it may be time to include them in the decision making. Your employees likely want to have a say in initiatives and policy changes that affect them. Often, they have creative ideas that can make your proposed changes more effective.

Invest in Career Development

The newest employees want to learn; 63% of Gen Z undergrads moving into the workforce cite developing advanced skills as essential to their definition of career success.

As the younger generation of employees begins to dominate the workforce, it will become increasingly important to offer them opportunities for mentorship and upskilling if you want to keep them around and feeling satisfied.

Switch to a Coaching Model

Fewer than half of Americans are satisfied with the feedback they receive from their managers at work. One way to change this is to switch from an annual review model to a feedback system that prioritizes coaching. This means that managers meet with direct reports weekly to discuss goals and roadblocks to increase employee performance.

Embrace Employee Recognition

Employees appreciate being recognized for the hard work they put in. When designing a recognition program, make sure to give timely, specific, and personalized praise instead of just general compliments. This is what helps employees feel valued and know their work matters.

Increase Pay and Benefits

Only one-third of Americans are satisfied with how much they get paid. It’s worth surveying your employees to find out whether this is the case in your workplace. If so, consider how you might raise pay over time or compensate for lower pay with perks and benefits.

Consider the Workload

Overworked employees are more prone to stress and burnout. Where possible, ensure employees aren’t being asked to take on more than their fair share of work. Encourage them to take breaks when needed and set boundaries around taking work home with them.

Offer More Flexibility

More than half of Gen Z graduates believe flexible work options are important, and 37% see them as absolutely essential for workplace satisfaction. If you can, open yourself up to the possibility of offering remote or hybrid working options, mental health days, or time off for employees to take care of personal responsibilities.

Consider Employee Wellness

Employees want to work for employers who care deeply about them as people, not just about what they can produce. In fact, caring about wellbeing is the number one element younger millennials and Gen Z job seekers look for in an employer.

While this doesn’t mean you have to start a full-blown wellness initiative, it does mean you should consider what you can do to contribute to the long-term health of your employees. Think about adding a meditation or relaxation room to your campus, offering healthy meal options in the cafeteria, or providing time off for employees to enjoy the outdoors.

Invest in Employee Satisfaction for Long-term Organizational Health

While organizations cannot (and should not) cater to every employee’s every whim, it’s worth taking the time and effort to ensure your workforce is satisfied as a whole. When employees are satisfied, they’re often more productive, more engaged, and less likely to start looking for roles elsewhere.

Consequently, it’s important to remember that an investment in employee satisfaction can bring huge returns across the organization—and not just when it comes to avoiding high turnover costs. With a workforce full of satisfied, high-performing employees, your team can gain the strength and momentum necessary to help the company exceed its goals and reach greater heights.

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