By Pat Owings
Are Your Employees Satisfied?
Employee satisfaction is an important part of every business, but many companies struggle with implementing plans to actually accomplish it. Books have been written and research performed on this subject but the gap between employee and employer seems to be growing.
Considering the ways that technology has benefited business over the last 100 years, you might think that the relationship between employer and employee would be gaining ground. Technology has added multiple channels for communication; the amount of data and documents created has exploded. It takes teams of people just to keep up-to-date on the backups and the editing of data. One would think that putting all of this information in writing would improve accountability and increase efficiency; in fact, just the opposite has happened. The need to constantly sift through data has made teams inefficient and made the individuals on those teams feel overwhelmed. Additionally, many supervisors and managers are unaware of this overload and of the division among their teams.
So how do you get on the track to employee satisfaction, decrease employee churn rates and create an overall more healthy work environment? Here are a few ideas.
Know Your Employees’ Strengths (and Weaknesses)
The first step to creating a happier set of employees is to get to know them. When you’re unfamiliar with your employees, what they’re good at and what they enjoy, you are less likely to assign them roles in tasks that they can excel in. Similarly, when you do understand their strengths and weaknesses, you can enhance their role in the company by offering them projects that they feel more confident accomplishing. Having regular conversations with your employees, truly listening to their concerns and ideas, and making time to learn about them aside from their role in your company are easy ways to create an environment of familiarity and camaraderie.
Encourage your employees to hone their strengths and help one another when weak spots arise. You’ll provide them with the confidence they need to collaborate to the best of their abilities.
Learn How to Build a True Team
What is your definition of a “team”? Is it a group of people who are working together towards a common goal? Is it a group of people who are willing to bring one another up and compensate for each other’s weaknesses while simultaneously encouraging and affirming good work in one another? If these statements are pretty indicative of your idea of a team, you’ve likely got your work cut out for you when it comes to building a team out of your employees.
What are the biggest inhibitors to teamwork in an office environment? For starters, fierce competition among employees is a huge setback to great teamwork and collaboration. Examine your own role in creating unnecessary competition among your employees. Do you announce casual “contests” each week to see who can work most efficiently or produce the highest number of results? Do you offer individual incentives to certain employees but not to others? Take a long look at the way you motivate your employees, and whether or not that style of motivation might be fostering competition, division and resentment among your team members.
Expand Your Own Point of View
Many managers have a hard time understanding the unique position that their employees are in. Trying to meet management and client demands in a timely manner, helping co-workers on their projects and still trying to retain some sense of enjoyment in their jobs is a tough menu for many employees. Managers who don’t understand what their employees do on a daily basis, the amount of time and the energy level that their employees’ tasks require, will experience a large gap of confidence and trust between themselves and their team.
Before you criticize an employee’s efficiency, ask yourself if you have a complete and accurate idea of exactly what his or her tasks require. If you are unaware of the specifics, consider doing more research before presenting your criticisms. Employees who are offered legitimate, well-founded critiques of their work and efficiencies are much more likely to make an honest effort to improve. By taking the time to provide a well-thought-out response to their work, you’ve shown that you have enough respect and regard for them as a person to think before you critique, and to provide them with something actually helpful, instead of dismissive and impulsive emotional language.
Delegation is Good
Another way to increase employee satisfaction is to learn how to delegate better. Many managers have trouble relinquishing control of projects or tasks because they erroneously believe they are the only one qualified to fill the role. If you are a do-it-all kind of manager, it might be time to rethink your employees’ abilities. Show them that you trust them to handle aspects of a task or project on their own, based on their own strengths and aptitudes. Give them the respect and responsibility of delivering on a timeline. Not only will it make them feel empowered and regarded, it will provide you with some much-needed relief in your own task list.
People want an environment wherein what they do makes a difference. Creating whatever environment for your company that can support this will yield happier employees. Know your employees, their strengths and their weaknesses. Show them you have confidence in their abilities, and reward them when they go above and beyond. These are the hallmarks of a well-functioning business, a happy workplace and satisfied employees.
photo credit: Amir Kuckovic via photopin cc