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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Job satisfaction: six factors


Opportunity

Employee survey studies show that employees are more satisfied when they have challenging opportunities at work. This includes chances to participate in interesting projects, jobs with a satisfying degree of challenge, and opportunities for increased responsibility. Important: this is not simply "promotional opportunity." As organizations have become flatter, promotions can be rare. People have found challenge through projects, team leadership, special assignments - as well as promotions.

Actions:
  • Promote from within when possible.
  • Reward promising employees with roles on interesting projects.
  • Divide jobs into levels of increasing leadership and responsibility.
It may be possible to create job titles that demonstrate increasing levels of expertise which are not limited by availability of positions. They simply demonstrate achievement.

Stress

When negative stress is continuously high, job satisfaction is low. Jobs are more stressful if they interfere with employees' personal lives or are a continuing source of worry or concern.

Actions:
  • Promote a balance of work and personal lives. Make sure that senior managers model this behavior.
  • Distribute work evenly (fairly) within work teams.
  • Review work procedures to remove unnecessary "red tape" or bureaucracy.
  • Manage the number of interruptions employees have to endure while trying to do their jobs.
  • Some organizations utilize exercise or "fun" breaks at work.

Leadership

Data from employee satisfaction surveys has shown employees are more satisfied when their managers are good leaders. This includes motivating employees to do a good job, striving for excellence, or just taking action.

Actions:
  • Make sure your managers are well trained. Leadership combines attitudes and behavior. It can be learned.
  • People respond to managers that they can trust and who inspire them to achieve meaningful goals.

Work Standards

Again, our NBRI employee survey data points out that employees are more satisfied when their entire workgroup takes pride in the quality of its work.

Actions:
  • Encourage communication between employees and customers. Quality gains importance when employees see its impact on customers.
  • Develop meaningful measures of quality. Celebrate achievements in quality.
Trap: Be cautious of slick, "packaged" campaigns that are perceived as superficial and patronizing.

Fair Rewards

Employees are more satisfied when they feel they are rewarded fairly for the work they do. Consider employee responsibilities, the effort they have put forth, the work they have done well, and the demands of their jobs.

Actions:
  • Make sure rewards are for genuine contributions to the organization.
  • Be consistent in your reward policies.
  • If your wages are competitive, make sure employees know this.
  • Rewards can include a variety of benefits and perks other than money.
As an added benefit, employees who are rewarded fairly, experience less stress.

Adequate Authority

Employees are more satisfied when they have adequate freedom and authority to do their jobs.

Actions:
When reasonable:
  • Let employees make decisions.
  • Allow employees to have input on decisions that will affect them.
  • Establish work goals, but let employees determine how they will achieve those goals. Later reviews may identify innovative "best practices."
  • Ask, "If there were just one or two decisions that you could make, which ones would make the biggest difference in your job?"
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