How to recognize employee satisfaction in your organization
By Robin van der Meulen | January 22, 2019
How dissatisfied, satisfied or engaged your employees are can be a huge factor in the overall work ambience and performance level of your organization. Through my experience as Strategic Happiness Expert at 2DAYSMOOD, I have often come in contact with CEOs, HR and team managers who were searching for effective methods to recognize and improve employee satisfaction. Let me introduce you to three examples of employees who will surely exist in your organization as well.
Tessa, Kim or Sophie?
Tessa, 36 years old, works at the marketing department of an average-sized company. When we ask Tessa about her employee satisfaction and how she feels at work, she often replies with emotions such as ‘tired’, ‘strained’, ‘frustrated’, ‘cheerless’, and ‘stressed out’. She does not feel appreciated at work, cannot utilize her talents enough, and mostly is in charge of tasks which do not interest her at all. Tessa doesn’t only suffer from the typical Monday blues on Monday… She actively feels non-engaged with the organization.
Kim, 36 years old, works at the marketing department of an average-sized company. When we ask Kim how she feels at work, she often replies with emotions such as ‘satisfied’, ‘comfortable’, ‘relaxed’, and occasionally with ‘sleepy’. All things considered, Kim experiences joy in her work and is motivated to do her job well.
Sophie, 36 years old, works at the marketing department of an average-sized company. When we ask Sophie how she feels at work, she often replies with emotions such as ‘enthusiastic’, ‘cheerful’, ‘energetic’, and even ‘happy’. She feels highly appreciated for her work by her managers and colleagues. When you meet her at a party, she will talk enthusiastically about her work and employer. She can fully utilize her talents which is why she can do what she truly enjoys. She feels actively engaged with her organization and her work activities.
How many Tessas, Kims and Sophies do you think you can find in your organization? According to research by Ouweneel, Schaufeli and le Blanc (2009), you can count on a ratio of 18% Tessas (dissatisfied, non-engaged), 70% Kims (satisfied) and just 12% Sophies (engaged).
Potential of your employees
If we look at the above stated division of employee satisfaction, it immediately becomes clear that there is a substantial group of employees who still do not or cannot utilize their full potential. A missed opportunity for the company culture and team performance if you ask me.
The engaged employee
An engaged employee maintains a highly positive attitude at work. He or she gladly makes that extra step in order to deliver a visible contribution. For the organization, for colleagues and for his or her own development. Engaged employees are the motors behind change, your ambassadors. They work harder and more focused, are open to new ideas, are both physically and mentally healthy, and start each workday with energy and joy. In other words, they contribute in many substantial ways to the success of their team and the organization.
The satisfied employee
On average, the satisfied employee is content when the daily work situation and tasks are aligned with his or her needs and expectations. People with an average or high level of employee satisfaction are motivated and take joy out of their work. However, they also have a lower activation level than engaged employees. These employees silently wish that everything at work remains the same, so they can uphold their job experience and satisfaction. This is also the reason why they might have an anticipating and sometimes defensive attitude.
The dissatisfied employee
The dissatisfied, non-engaged employee will contribute very little to the achievement of company goals. For whatever reason, these employees pulled themselves out. It could be because of boredom, monotonous work, high fatigue, or the feeling of not being heard or seen. These low employee satisfaction levels and negative emotions can have a harmful impact in the long run. For instance on their motivation, productivity and willingness to change. Non-engaged employees also show a higher level of sick-leave, can negatively influence the mood in the team and are potentially looking for another job.
Turn Kims into Sophies!
We often spend a lot of our attention towards the dissatisfied employees. They stand out the most after all, with their rebellious attitude or because of their absence. We often busy ourselves for them with expensive curation, preventions or other types of interventions. Besides them, we also invest a lot of our time in the talented and achieving employees. Makes sense, since we want to reward and retain those employees. We oftentimes forget the far larger group of satisfied employees (average of 70%). It is wise to also focus on this group of people, because of their potential to become part of the engaged group. If we don’t put any energy into them, the chance exists that they will get ‘influenced’ by their dissatisfied colleagues or that they permanently feel unheard when their employee satisfaction decreases. How do we turn the satisfied Kims into engaged Sophies? This is a lucrative question for which you as an HR director or team manager should find a solution.
The power of amplification
At 2DAYSMOOD we believe in the power of amplification. This concept comes from the Latin word ‘amplio’ and means to strengthen, to enlarge, and to quantify. Amplification is not only directed towards treatment (curation) or prevention of the negative consequences of work stress and dissatisfaction. Amplification is essentially about work related interventions that strengthen positive attitudes and emotions amongst employees. It is your job as an HR or team manager to create a positive work atmosphere. The employee can then take his or her responsibility for creating a good balance between stress, dissatisfaction, satisfaction and excitement. (Note that a little bit of stress is welcome, it can lead to more focus and productivity in a short period of time). Attaining a positive work experience ensures that interventions based on treatment and prevention will not be as necessary, which will save you costs.
Focus on positive emotions
With amplification, work related interventions are not only targeted at employees with burn-outs or stress complaints, but also at the general employee satisfaction level. The reach of this positive approach is therefore much larger. Surely all employees, dissatisfied, satisfied or engaged, can potentially benefit from a positive work environment (Ouweneel, Schaufeli en Le Blanc, 2009). For example, think of the fostering of social relations and optimism on the work field. This can be achieved through sincere openness, friendliness, feedback, appreciation or recognition.
Measuring emotions and employee satisfaction
Do you recognize the Tessas, Kims and Sophies in your organization or department? Would you also like to turn your satisfied employees into engaged employees? With the weekly 15 second survey of 2DAYSMOOD, you get continuous insights in the emotions and engagement of your employees. You can discover where the promising ‘satisfied group’ is hidden, and which components are relevant to their employee satisfaction and engagement. After implementing a new positive focus, you can also monitor the effects of your interventions!