Job satisfaction: make it one of your organization’s assets

By Robert Half 12/03/2017

Employees – people in general – have high expectations and are not satisfied with a mediocre life. They want a well-filled social agenda, interesting hobbies and plenty of time to indulge in them, but they also want a job that makes them happy. Although obviously that desire for ‘everything’ raises some questions, job satisfaction is more important than ever these days. And it cannot be bought. Because although employees want a good salary for their performance, that is not the only factor that determines how good they feel at work – often it is not even the most important factor. So how do you find out what happiness at work means for your employees? And more importantly, what do you do with that information.

Why job satisfaction is so high on the agenda

A time-use research carried out by the VUB University in Brussels and Statistics Belgium shows that employees spend much more time with their colleagues than with family members or friends. Not to mention the hours they spend commuting. So, it is logical that employees want to feel good in their jobs. As an employer, you have every interest in responding to that need. Years ago, studies like Quality of Work and Employment in Belgium already demonstrated that there is not just a positive link between job quality and employees’ health, but also between job satisfaction and productivity. And that affects turnover and the quality of service offered (and therefore customer satisfaction).

Sustainable work = satisfied personnel

Besides that, happy employees are also sustainable employees who will be less quick to start looking around for something else. The abovementioned study investigated this with the question, “Do you think you will still be able to do your present work when you are 60?” We should interpret ‘be able’ in a broader sense (one of the three possible answers was “No, I wouldn’t want to”). The researchers concluded that job satisfaction is related to the sustainability of the work. You save a lot of money, too, if personnel stay with your organization a long time. Some estimates put the cost of replacing employees at as much as 150% of their annual salary. The recruitment of new workers is an expensive business, and training or courses plus reduced productivity take their (budgetary) toll as well.

Find out how satisfied your employees are

There is no question that you benefit from satisfied employees. But how do you find out whether they are or not? The best idea is simply to discuss it with them. You can use their evaluation talks to raise the subject with them, or – if you are afraid that employees will not want to express any discontent freely – send out a satisfaction survey to your workforce. You could ask the following questions.

  1. “Do you find your job interesting and meaningful?”
    Flemings increasingly choose jobs in which they can do something meaningful for society, according to a survey to a survey of 1,000 Flemings carried out by the research and communication agency Trendhuis . Obviously, we cannot all work for Doctors Without Borders, but it is still a fact that employees feel happier if they get the feeling they are making a difference. Moreover, this question is also about how much an employee wants to be challenged, which is not unimportant either. Employees who have to change up a gear and use all their skills to the maximum are much more motivated than those who go through their working day at half speed.
  2. “Do you have the impression that your work is appreciated and do you get enough training opportunities?"
    This question is connected to the conclusion that job satisfaction is to a large extent linked to how well people work together and how much they like to. It makes a world of difference whether employees work well as a team, whether they communicate openly and whether everyone does their fair share.
  3. “How would you describe the relationship with your colleagues?”
    This question is connected to the conclusion that job satisfaction is to a large extent linked to how well people work together and how much they like to. It makes a world of difference whether employees work well as a team, whether they communicate openly and whether everyone does their fair share.
  4. “What do you think of the relationship between the management and the employees?”Employees who feel they are being treated fairly are generally happier. In other words, there is a direct link between the prevailing leadership style and your employees’ job satisfaction.
  5. “Do you experience stress at work?”
    It is generally recognized that continual stress leads not only to mental but also to physical complaints. Securex’s Annual White Paper on Absenteeism shows that on the average work day in 2015 nearly 7 out of 100 employees were absent due to illness. Moreover, the number of long-term sick was higher than ever. “Elevated chronic stress” was cited as one of the two main causes (besides the aging work population). Not only is absenteeism a measure of your personnel’s satisfaction, it also has considerable financial impact.

Draw up an action plan to increase your employees’ satisfaction

When you have collected and analyzed the answers to the questions above, you will of course have to show your employees that you are actually going to do something with them. Devise an action plan with the following components for more job satisfaction.

  1. Sit down regularly with employees to run through their career (plan). This is the ideal moment not only to remind them and thank them for their contribution to the company, but also to find out about any training they would like.
  2. Agree on a flexible work schedule whereby employees can get the most out of their most productive hours, possibly combined with home working.
  3. Introduce some relaxing activities, like fitness sessions and yoga classes.
  4. Use regular team meetings to find out whether there are problems within the group.
  5. Fix a date immediately for the next job satisfaction talk or the next satisfaction survey.

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