Why should we care about workplace satisfaction?
After all, we’ve got a job to do!
Businesses succeed and fail in large part due to the employees tasked with carrying out the strategies developed by managers, leaders, and executives. Critical to the success of these efforts is the level of satisfaction in the workplace, but what is employee satisfaction? Employee satisfaction reflects how members feel about their work environment, job, or organization as a whole. Satisfied employees are happier and feel more fulfilled than others. Thus, consideration of worker satisfaction is a vital component to the ultimate success and collective group effort for any organization as it can increase motivation, creativity, productivity, and engagement.
Importance of Worker Satisfaction
Satisfied workers exhibit lower absenteeism from stress-related work issues. It’s estimated that 1 million workers are absent every day and that 46% of employees miss three or more days per year due to stress. Even Dale Carnegie himself wrote in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living that “Medical science has been unable to cope with the mental and physical wrecks caused, not by germs, but by emotions of worry, fear, hate, frustration, and despair.”
If your workers are feeling stressed from their workload, issues with people within your organization, or even personal life considerations that extend beyond the workplace, you risk lower productivity and quality, diminished accuracy in the work product, poorer team dynamics, decreased office rapport, and higher turnover. In the end, all of this impacts your organizational success and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Factors Influencing Team Member Satisfaction
Two important foundational aspects of team member satisfaction to consider revolve around organizational and emotional influences. Each of these plays an important role in the level of team satisfaction. Let’s look at them individually.
The way employees interact with or experience their company has a large impact on their level of satisfaction. These drivers can vary depending on your industry as well as your objectives and have a significant impact on the employee experience. Some of the common organizational drivers include your company’s purpose and vision and that of your leadership’s style or approach; both of these affect decision-making aspects which impact the team operating environment and influence outcomes.
When considering leadership approaches within our organizations and that interpersonal skills remain consistently in demand, it seems that more attention is needed to bring the two into alignment. A recent study revealed that only 26% of workers value the relationship with their immediate manager and only 29% of employees indicated they had trust in senior leadership. Further supporting these low percentages, in the age of AI, only 26% of individual contributors trust current leaders to make the right decisions regarding AI implementation. Finally, only 33% of respondents indicated that they believe in the purpose and direction of their organization.
When only one-third of employees are committed to the future goals of your company and less than one-third have trust in leadership, there is certainly room for improvement.
Emotions often drive our thoughts and actions. If workers feel undervalued or ignored, lack psychological safety, or are not empowered, then producing quality work or becoming part of a high-performing team becomes more difficult.
In our recent teamwork study, 84% of those on high-performing teams were extremely or very satisfied with their freedom to express opinions, and 70% of high-performing team members felt they could express emotion at work. In addition, significant differences were found between those on high-performing teams and others when it came to feeling respected, valued, and confident.
And the differences don’t stop there. The Dale Carnegie study found significant differences in reported team member satisfaction between high-performing teams and others across an array of variables. This isn’t chance. Leaders who are attentive to influences that can increase team member satisfaction are more likely to produce high-performing teams.
Assessing Employee Satisfaction
One of the biggest barriers to truly harnessing team member satisfaction is the existence of perception gaps between leaders and team members. Leaders tend to see many workplace aspects, such as employee satisfaction and leadership or management effectiveness, in a much more favorable light than that of team members. It’s critical to gather real data from both leaders and workers to assess the current state and develop a plan to close the gaps by identifying common ground. Efforts such as anonymous surveys and live feedback in an environment open to honest discussion can be a great first step.
Improve Team Member Satisfaction
The journey to developing high-performing teams is not easy. It takes a conscious effort from a team leader and the willingness to learn and accept feedback surrounding to improve satisfaction in the workplace. As a starting point, below are three areas where improvements can be applied.
Leadership & Management
If you want more satisfied team members, start by increasing the effectiveness of the communication between workers and leaders. This doesn’t necessarily mean more communication, just better communication. Instead of grilling team members about progress, consider regular check-ins that offer support, help, and counsel based on real feedback.
This also involves leadership showing support for employees in public and encouraging their ideas or actions. Autonomy at work is one of the leading factors for employee happiness. According to the scientific journal Motivation and Emotion, managers must exhibit leader autonomy support (LAS), of which the benefits are clear. When employees have autonomy in their job, “they may be more likely to find that work engaging, [to] possess more favorable evaluations of the job, and [to] proactively engage with their environment and others with whom they work.”
Another way leadership and management can influence employee satisfaction is by setting clear expectations and goals (a Team Vision, for example). Working toward a vague outcome means never reaching performance expectations. Clear goals allow an employee to focus on their contribution and help them be more content at work.
Alongside leadership and management, consider the work environment itself. Leaders need to help cultivate a positive work environment. Bullying, gossiping, and negative talk among employees can ultimately negatively affect even the best team members. Integrate new policies, if necessary, to help curb anything that brings down morale.
Provide tools and resources for employees to participate in the culture you’re trying to build. Something as simple as starting a company book club or offering a mentoring program among employees can have great returns. The focus should be on creating a healthy work/life balance for employees, and this means considering influences beyond the immediate team.
Recognition & Support
One of Dale Carnegie’s most cherished principles reads: “Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.’” Too often, employees feel ignored and underappreciated at work. Try setting up tailored reward systems that help motivate employees (believe it or not, money isn’t always the greatest motivator).
Supporting employees means providing them with opportunities for personal growth. Whether it’s a general soft skills course or something highly specialized and technical for their role, employees want opportunities to train and improve. Provide them with those opportunities and watch them soar.
If you want to improve team member satisfaction, it starts with change, and Dale Carnegie can help you through that. Whether it’s the foundational Dale Carnegie Course, a more detailed option such as Leading High-Performing Virtual Teams, or even a tailored solution, Dale Carnegie has the resources and training you need to increase employee satisfaction today.
As an owner of the Dale Carnegie Mid-Atlantic franchise, McKonly & Asbury is able to offer an extension of services to our clients and friends of the firm, expanding our expertise in the areas of leadership, team building, and people development as Dale Carnegie offers programs in leadership, management development, customer engagement, service, sales, communication, and more.
About the Author
McKonly & Asbury is a Certified Public Accounting Firm serving companies across Pennsylvania including Camp Hill, Lancaster, Bloomsburg, and Philadelphia. We serve the needs of affordable housing, construction, family-owned businesses, healthcare, manufacturing and distribution, and nonprofit industries. We also assist service organizations with the full suite of SOC services (including SOC 2 reports), ERTC claims, internal audits, SOX compliance, and employee benefit plan audits.