It's common wisdom that employees who are satisfied in their jobs tend to be more productive. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) cites studies that show the relationships between employee morale and business success, including findings that demonstrate direct links between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and even between the satisfaction levels of employees in a back office and customer satisfaction.
So, how do you know if your employees are happy, and what can you do about it if they're not?
Measuring Employee Morale
A recent radio interview with Stephan Dubner (co-author of Freakonomics) on the program Marketplace revealed some interesting insights into how employees behave when they're not happy. (Hint: Check how your employees park their cars!)
Mr. Dubner claims that employee surveys typically do not give an accurate assessment of employee morale and discusses studies that use other means, such as one that suggested the number of "Dilbert" comics an employee posts may be inversely proportional to the level of the employee's morale.
Listen to the podcast for more examples of this unusual take on measuring employee satisfaction.
Ways to Improve Morale
What can employers do to improve their employees' sense of well-being? Consider the following tips:
- Be an inspirational leader. Take some time out to assess your skills as a motivator. The time you take to nurture your employees can dramatically improve your employees' overall satisfaction with their jobs. The SBA offers some helpful guidance on being a good manager as well as a good leader.
- Give your employees some face-to-face time with you. Email, voicemail and texting often eliminate the need for personal interaction. Step out of your office every so often and speak with your employees directly. Consider a monthly lunch for those employees, such as higher-level managers, that already have face time with you in the office.
- While we're on the subject of lunch, offer a regular luncheon meeting to keep employees apprised of what's going on. A monthly brown-bag lunch can offer your workers the chance to stay "in the know" on subjects such as business performance, team goals or new technologies. You may also want to consider bringing in a guest speaker from the community or your industry to give employees a new perspective.
- Let your employees know how they're doing. Simple gestures such as a handwritten thank-you note for a job well done may go a long way toward letting your employees know they're appreciated. You might also thank employees for their contributions each year on their anniversary date. And don't forget annual performance reviews—a good review provides the employee with an honest assessment of his or her strengths and weaknesses and offers the employee a platform to bring up any concerns he or she may have, keeping the lines of communication open.
For more information on improving employee satisfaction, check out the SBA's blog, 7 Ways to Lead and Empower Your Team – Because Satisfied Employees Make for Happy Customers. Our section on Motivating Employees contains additional strategies for employers.
Image Credit: Jessica. Tam