Decreasing Employee Satisfaction & What to Do about It

Employee satisfaction is dramatically down, per The Conference Board.

Clearly, employees are growing less satisfied in their work, which lays to rest that ridiculous claim that people should be grateful to just HAVE jobs. While that is in some part true, leadership has worked diligently in the last couple of years to ruthlessly kill off that gratitude by working remaining employees harder with no additional appreciation or recognition of effort. It takes only a few moments of time to sincerely, specifically and authentically appreciate someone for what they're doing.

In the last couple of weeks since the report first came out, many have reported on the findings. One aspect that doesn’t seem to be getting much play, but intrigued me was:
“No age or income group is immune to the downward satisfaction trend: all age and income groups showed shrinking shares of workers reporting satisfaction with their jobs. Workers earning in excess of $50,000 remain the most satisfied, their overall level of satisfaction has declined 20%. Those making between $25,000 and $35,000 per year had the lowest satisfaction rate (33.9 percent).”

Employee satisfaction gets worse and is frankly miserable at the lowest income levels. I question if new Talent Management practices - while making many positive advancements - really abandoned those at the bottom of the income pyramid? In many companies, these people will often be the majority and are the ones who bring the business to life each day. When analyzing the data in our recognition programs, it becomes clear that those who earn pay in the lower end of the scale are often power players in the organization in that they are the “go-to” people to get the work done.

If you want people to engage in their work and be genuinely happy about doing it, then give them a reason to be. Tell them how and why their efforts are important to the success of the company. Tell them you appreciate their efforts. Let people do this for their peers at any level as well as managers to employees. And do this frequently. Based on our best practices, strategic recognition, requiring an investment of just 1% of total pay-roll, is a very modest budget to put in place to acknowledge the exceptional efforts of everyone at every level of pay.

There is nothing like simple but specific acknowledgment of your hard work to encourage satisfaction and engagement on the job. Together with recognition strategy aligned with your company values and strategic objectives and a new cultural approach, think what a difference this could make!

2 comment(s):

At January 27, 2010 4:29 PM, Elad Sherf said...

Seth Godin writes in Linchpin: "The closer you get to the front, the more power you have over the brand". It is important not to forget that today, more than ever, those who influence the companies successes and image are the front-line employees. They might not get paid as much as those at the top, but sometimes there influence is much more than their relative pay. Every employee has a part in the process of making the business what it is. Recognizing that is a good way to instill purpose which an important factor in both motivation and satisfaction -

At January 27, 2010 4:33 PM, Derek Irvine said...

Elad, agreed. Retail is an excellent example. It is the front line employees -- the people behind the cash registers and walking the floor -- that have a much greater influence on customer satisfaction and perception of the company and its priorities. And yet these are often the lowest compensated and least recognized of employees.