Looking to improve employee satisfaction? There are many tricks, tips, and tools that have been used over the years, some with varying degrees of effectiveness. The fact that many businesses struggle with this single issue points to the fact that it’s not as simple as giving every employee a raise.
Let’s move past the obvious: businesses need to provide employees with a fair wage, safe working conditions, and respect for the value that they bring. If you don’t have that as a foundation, you probably will always struggle with employee satisfaction.
Assuming you have those things established, here are three next steps to increasing employee satisfaction.
Step 1: Clarify the job responsibility
A previous employer asked me one time to work on a project to increase employee satisfaction. In discussing their role, the affected employees described their work.
After speaking with each person in the group, it was discovered that they had 88 duties to perform.
Some duties were simple, some complex.
Some were well defined, others were not.
Some of these tasks were written in the job description. Many were not.
Make sure everyone on your team knows very specifically what their job is and what it’s not. Be specific with the process of each task, so that your team is meeting the customer’s needs in the same way.
And don’t forget about making sure you are clear about every job and duty (for more, check out The First Step to Effective Communication).
Everyone is busy these days. Make sure your employees have a clear understanding of how to do every task. If everyone is doing the same task differently, it will drive a wedge between each employee and begin to lower your employee satisfaction scores.
Step 2: Prioritize the work
I asked the group of employees what they disliked most about their job. No one said their pay, nor did they mention not getting a big yearly bonus.
Instead, they all pointed out that they felt like they were one of the few individuals of the group who were working hard and doing what was right for the company. Each had an example where one of their peers would avoid their responsibility and burden the others with it.
Simply put: with 88 tasks that needed to be done and no guidance, everyone created their own priority.
Therefore, everyone performed their job differently and became frustrated when others weren’t “pulling their weight” according to their own values.
Avoid this by prioritizing the tasks. Make it clear to your employees that there are particular duties that are more important than others. Even if you have to number them in order of importance, you will give your employees every chance to succeed and build teamwork along the way.
Step 3: Manage to the priority list
Before this project, management would spend their time trying to appease the employees by listening to their complaints and trying to put out the emotional “fires” that would spring up. But without clear job responsibilities and prioritization, every employee was simply doing what they thought was best (and every employee had a different opinion of what that was!)
Now that you have done step 1 and 2, all that is needed is to manage to this. Make sure that all employees are truly doing their job in a consistent way, according to the priority list set forth by the management team.
Don’t allow for “common cause variation” (a.k.a. excuses) when someone tries to go outside of the priority list or consistency of process. (Read more about this: Getting the most from your workforce)
Would you be happy and engaged if everyone you worked with did their job differently each day in a way that prevented harmony and caused distrust?
When you are able to be very clear with job responsibilities and priorities with your employees, it makes the job of supervising them much easier. It also creates a culture of trust and respect amongst the team which will pay off for years to come.
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