Why does employee satisfaction matter so much?
Employee satisfaction -- sometimes called job satisfaction, or overall satisfaction at InHerSight -- is simply how happy workers are with their jobs. Happy employees are more likely to stick around, which saves you money in turnover costs. High turnover can damage morale, which can damage engagement and thus productivity.
Essentially, low job satisfaction can begin a domino effect that damages your bottom line.
But employee satisfaction is different than employee engagement
Don't get us wrong, you want both, and they are related, but how you foster satisfaction can be different than how you foster engagement. Employee satisfaction is how happy a worker is with their job and workplace; engagement is how much time and energy they're willing to expend on their work.
So, what affects satisfaction?
According to InHerSight's data, the top four predictors of women's overall job satisfaction are:
The people you work with: co-workers who are respectful, professional, unbiased, all those good things
Employer responsiveness: effective channels for elevating issues and concerns, like discrimination and harassment.
Equal opportunities for women and men: promotions, leadership roles, salary increases, incentive programs, etc.
Salary satisfaction: salary, merit increases, cost-of-living adjustments, overall compensation.
The good news is, as an employer, you have the power to affect all of these factors in your workplace -- but keep in mind that what's most important to employees will vary by organization and industry, as will what an employer needs to improve. So before you can affect job satisfaction throughout your organization, you need to measure it.
So, how do you increase employee satisfaction?
Measure it, and measure it often.
1. Ask your employees what they want and need
The quickest way to find out is to ask. Plain and simple.
There are many ways to do this, and it's best to use a variety of methods. Managers should be asking direct reports what they need in one-on-one conversations. Senior leadership and C-suite executives should be asking for and encouraging feedback from employees at all levels and creating a company culture where employees feel safe giving feedback.
2. Give them anonymous channels to provide feedback
Most employees won't be as honest as they'd like to be (and as honest as you need them to be) unless they can provide feedback confidentially. In addition to creating a culture where managers and leadership welcome and encourage feedback, employers should provide avenues for feedback where employees feel safe. Communicate clearly how the data collection will work and the measures you (or your data collection partner) take to protect privacy.
3. Prepare to be surprised
Don't be shocked if the feedback you get is not what you expected. But surprising responses can be a sign that those anonymous channels you established are getting you sincere feedback.
4. Do something about it
Asking for feedback is no good unless you act on it. Gather your employee responses, make a plan to address it, and communicate it to your employees.
And it's important that your team knows you hear and value their feedback. According to a Globoforce (now Workhuman) survey, companies that implement employee feedback report 14.9% lower turnover rates.
5. Measure employee satisfaction often
Don't wait another five years to measure employee satisfaction. Managers, co-workers, culture, and policies change a lot more often than that, and you'll want to understand how your staff responds.
In fact, regularly measuring employee satisfaction can help you understand the effectiveness of very specific initiatives designed to boost that satisfaction. About six to eight months after you implement a new policy or program, ask your employees to (anonymously!) rate it and give you feedback so you can know how well you're doing.
Regularly share your progress with your teams to let them know how the programs and policies are working and the steps you are taking to improve them over time.