Making your employees more satisfied with their work is surprisingly easy to do if you genuinely care about their well-being.
After years and years of research on employee engagement, and companies spending millions of dollars trying to improve engagement, not a whole lot has changed.
Why is that?
There have been hundreds (if not thousands) of articles with tips and tricks to improve satisfaction at work, but workers aren’t a whole lot happier now than they were 15 years ago.
It makes no sense.
The things that make employees engaged are all easy to do and mostly free. It’s obviously easier said than done though, because according to Gallup, only 13% of people are satisfied at work worldwide.
Even as engagement levels increase a bit each year, there are only minor upticks being made. We need a bolder approach to get those numbers much higher.
In this article, you’ll learn 12 simple, proven things that you can do to increase job satisfaction.
One of the best things you can do as a leader is increase your emotional intelligence. As you do that, you’ll start to have more empathy, compassion, gratitude, and overall appreciation for your team. Here are 12 things that you can do make employees more satisfied.
1. Be Realistic With Your Expectations
At the root of a lot of stress, anxiety, and frustration that many employees feel are unrealistic expectations from the organization.
In our research report, the State of Employee Engagement, we discovered that 60% of employees notice that their job is taking a toll on their personal life.
We keep reading about productivity “hacks” or time saving tips to get more done with less, but instead of looking for ways to squeeze more out of our days, maybe we could focus on living a balanced, healthy life.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure employees aren’t feeling overworked or overwhelmed, they likely won’t have the courage to raise that as an issue.
This might be hard for you to do depending on what the organization’s goals are, but more than anything you should be having open and honest discussions with your team to see if expectations are too high.
Try your best to remove that fear and let employees know that it’s okay to raise that as an issue.
2. Recognize Good Work
Recognizing your employees is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to increase job satisfaction.
The only thing it requires of you is to be more mindful of what’s going on around you.
Going back to what we mentioned earlier, increasing your emotional intelligence will help you become more mindful and appreciative of what your team is doing.
Our research found that 63% of employees feel like they don’t get enough praise. This is a huge opportunity for leaders to step up and make their employees proud of their work.
There are many tools to help you with recognition (Bonusly is one we’ve use in the past), it could be something as simple as setting up a public Slack channel to put your praise in.
3. Focus On The Long Term
Short-term thinking or looking for those “quick wins” are not only bad for business, but can be incredibly frustrating for employees.
In order for employees to get motivated, they need to see the same long term vision that the senior leadership team has. This plays into having a mission and core values that you adhere to, because the mission is long term and can get employees excited.
Ask your employees to think about, where do they see your organization in 10 years from now?
Once they start thinking about those answers, discuss them as a team and you’ll see how motivating it can be for them.
4. Communicate More
Remember, there’s no such thing as too much communication. Also, lack of communication is the source of a lot of frustration in the workplace.
What this means for you, is that you should be communicating more than you think you should.
Knowledge is power, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t want to empower your employees with as much as possible.
Work on creating a culture of open and honest communication within your team. That feeling of safety and being comfortable saying whatever you want to anyone on your team is a key component of a successful team.
5. Care About Employee Well-being
Showing employees that you genuinely care about their well-being is one of the most effective ways to increase job satisfaction.
There are two aspects to this: mental well-being and physical well-being.
Mental well-being is often forgotten about, but it’s so important for organizations to focus on. Run a “calm” company that removes a lot of the stress, anxiety, and fear from their lives. Be flexible with your team’s schedule, show that you trust them, and check in with them frequently to see how you can help.
Physical well-being is relatively inexpensive for you to focus on and can have powerful benefits. Offering to subsidize gym memberships, having healthy fruit in the office, or helping employees pursue sporting activities are all great ways to show employees you care about them.
6. Offer Opportunities For Learning
Personal growth is arguably the most important aspect of employee engagement.
When employees stop learning, they plateau and get bored, eventually looking elsewhere for stimulation. You can stop this by implementing programs for continuous learning.
Employees will love you for it.
Buffer recently announced that they were giving all of their employees a learning budget to show employees they value growth. Imagine giving each employee a budget (maybe 50$ per month) for them to spend on whatever course they want to. This clearly shows employees that you care.
More importantly, make the time for that learning. Don’t expect your employees to work 60+ hour weeks and also get some training in.
7. Give Frequent Feedback
Giving feedback can be tough, and most managers avoid giving feedback to their team, but employees crave it.
Employees want feedback desperately, and aren’t as sensitive as you might think. There’s no need to be rude with your feedback, but if you’re straightforward and honest, employees will respect that.
Make time for regular feedback by scheduling one-on-ones once a month with each member of your team, and create more of those informal opportunities for conversation.
8. Measure Engagement Frequently
Showing employees that you genuinely care about their engagement levels at work is a great way to increase job satisfaction.
Whether you use pulse surveys, eNPS, or another employee survey solution, the key is to do it frequently.
Annual surveys won’t cut it anymore, you need to take a much more agile approach to improving your company’s culture.
9. Don’t Focus Too Much On Perks
In an interview with Jim Harter, Gallup’s Chief Scientist, he talks about how perks don’t matter all that much.
Gallup is surprisingly indifferent to perks noting that they’ve proved to be neither a cure-all to an ineffective boss, or even an influence on high achievement. Perks often give workers joy and convenience, but they don’t prove to retain people.
Perks are nice-to-haves, but there’s no need to put too much emphasis on perks.
There is one caveat though. They say that the one perk that does make a difference is flex time. Employees love the fact that they’re trusted enough to have some flexibility in their schedule.
10. Foster Relationships At Work
You can’t force friendships at work, but what you can do is create the environment for those connections to happen.
By organizing activities like team lunches, group projects, or happy hours, you’re helping to create those opportunities for connections.
More than anything, you want to let people know that taking a break during their day to have an informal chat with a colleague is okay. Friendships at work are important, and as a leader, it’s your responsibility to help make them happen.
11. Provide A Clear Career Path
A powerful way to increase job satisfaction is to give employees something to look forward to in the future.
Helping employees plan for the long term shows them that you’re committed to their success and you’re willing to invest in them in the long term.
Coaching and mentoring sessions are great for employee development and to foster friendships at work.
The more you can work with your employees to map out their career goals, the more satisfied they’ll be on the day-to-day.
12. Empower Employees
For employees to be satisfied at work, they need to feel like they’re in control. They need to feel like they have the autonomy they need to do amazing work that they can be proud of.
Again, this goes back to trusting your employees, but you need to let the make their own decisions. Let them decide what they work on and when, you should only be there as a coach.
Give them direction, and then get out of their way.
How Do You Increase Job Satisfaction?
Any tips you want to share? Let us know in the comments below!