Your Employees: Why Satisfied is Not Enough
It’s harder than ever to find and keep great talent. Companies are learning that when they are lucky enough to find good talent, it’s no longer enough to offer a good salary and competitive benefits. Employers today are challenged to offer employees an environment that keeps them not only satisfied, but truly engaged in propelling the organization forward.
Employers have traditionally relied on employee satisfaction surveys to tell them how happy their employees are to work for them. Organizations with high employee satisfaction and retention may be operating under a false sense of security. While this can be a good measure of employees’ happiness and often correlates to employee retention, it doesn’t give the full picture what an organization needs to know to get the most out of their investment in people.
Today’s human resources professionals have been focusing on measuring and influencing engagement in their workplaces. How does this differ from satisfaction? While satisfaction measures how employees feel about their job and job conditions – think compensation, benefits, career development opportunities – employee engagement refers to employees’ commitment and connection to the employer, and is measured by the amount of discretionary effort they are willing to give to their organization.
This is an important nuance worth focusing on: having a satisfied employee may not mean they are an engaged employee. Satisfied employees may be happy about their job conditions, but only engaged employees invest additional – or discretionary – effort into their core responsibilities and job performance that helps move their organizations forward. It’s true that engaged employees are most likely satisfied employees – why would an employee go the extra mile for their employer if they weren’t happy with the fundamentals of their job?
Why does this distinction matter? The most important reason for businesses is because it impacts the bottom line. Study after study shows that employee engagement is linked to improved workplace performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, absenteeism, turnover and support for the organization. A 2011 Corporate Leadership Council HR Engagement Research Survey revealed that performance against revenue expectations is 23 per cent greater for companies with high “engagement capital” than those with low “engagement capital.” Lost productivity of actively disengaged employees is estimated to cost the North American business economy over $350 billion annually in lost productivity (http://www.canadahrcentre.com/solutions/employee-engagement/). Yes, that’s billions.
While satisfaction is an important measure of employees’ happiness, it is not the only measure employers need to assess if when aiming to retain top performers and drive their impact on the organization’s bottom line. It’s possible to significantly affect business outcomes and improve bottom-line results by implementing programs that motivate employees beyond basic satisfaction to achieve higher levels of engagement. Therefore, it is worth the effort to understand how to better engage employees, earn their extra effort and influence the bottom line.
Check out part two of this blog to find out what can be done to improve employee engagement levels.