Employee satisfaction leads to increased retention and profitability. Do you think employee happiness is "soft?" Are you too busy working on the success of your business to worry about whether your employees are happy? Or do you think your employees' happiness isn't up to you, it's up to them? Employee happiness or satisfaction, not to be confused with complacency, is critical to your business success and while your employees' personal happiness is their own responsibility, it's in your best interest to create an environment that supports and promotes their happiness and engagement. Happy employees are more productive. They serve your clients well, leading to increased client satisfaction and increased client satisfaction leads to increased profitability. It's that simple. Happy employees stay and grow with you, they produce happy clients and happy clients lead to more profits.
You can promote employee satisfaction in the following five ways.
- Lead with Values. Are you met with resistance or inertia when you and your team try to make changes? Maybe people agree to the changes, then go back to "business as usual" when you've turned your attention elsewhere. These are often indicators that the changes aren't clearly aligned with the values or culture of your firm. Worse, they might conflict with your firm's values. Mixed messages and the inability to get the right things done are frustrating, especially to people who want to be high performers. Get clear about your organization's values, list them, perhaps incorporate them into "Guiding Principles," communicate them consistently and, most importantly, use them as the foundation for decision-making and behavior throughout your firm.
- Respect your people. If you're a leader who seeks success through the efforts of others, then it's critical that you value your people and demonstrate that value with respect, not just for your key people, but for everyone. One way to respect your employees is to understand that their lives encompass more than their work and careers. Like you, they have families, friends, interests, commitments and, unlike earlier generations, they're no longer willing to forgo personal success for professional success. They want what has come to be called work/life balance, though I prefer the term work/life integration. Respect your employees and support their efforts to be successful both personally and professionally.
- Create an environment that encourages people to use their Highest Talents™. This begins with a shared appreciation for your employees and their talents, recognizing that each employee offers a unique set of skills and talents. Encourage your employees to use and maximize their Highest Talents™. Get the right people doing the right work. One of the Gallup (Research) Organization's questions that most positively links employee satisfaction and business success is, "Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?" Create an environment where all of your employees can answer, "Yes," to this question and you'll improve satisfaction, productivity and retention throughout your firm.
- Ensure effective supervision. Research has repeatedly found that people don't quit their companies (firms), they quit their managers. My own experience coaching and conducting exit interviews bears that out. Too often firms promote successful people to management roles, only to discover they don't have managerial or supervisory skills. The failure that follows can be enormously damaging and costly. Worse is the opportunity cost when the manager's skills are lackluster, but not sufficiently bad to prompt a reassignment. Good supervisors bring out the best in people, which requires both the attributes and skills of leadership. Determine your criteria for identifying prospective leaders in your firm, then give them the training and support they need to develop their leadership abilities. Good supervisors utilize and develop the firm's greatest asset, its talent. For additional information see Is Your Firm's Leadership Model Sustainable?
- Provide needed resources. Another question Gallup links positively and powerfully to employee satisfaction and business success is, "Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?" I suggest you expand the concept to include training and professional development. Your employees want to be successful. They want the necessary tools, knowledge and skills to do their work as well as possible. Understandably, you need to evaluate your return when investing in resources, but don't overlook the opportunity cost of not providing the best you can afford. Keep in mind that new technology and training are often more effective ways of engaging and retaining employees - especially millennials - than raises, high-end offices or other perks.
The above list is not exhaustive, but can achieve positive results in any workplace. Contact me at 503.913.09499 or by email if you'd like to discuss these strategies or others to more fully engage your employees.