Nobody wants to work a boring 8-5 job where your employers don’t care about you. But we all want a sense of fulfillment from our jobs.
So what does it mean to be satisfied with your job?
The business definition is simply the extent to which an employee feels content with their work duties and potential growth within the company.
While it offers a broad understanding, it fails to recognize satisfaction as a constantly renewing objective. It suggests that if an employee’s core duties are difficult and engaging enough, and the potential for long-term growth is there, then ‘job satisfaction’ is achieved.
In reality, the concept is a little more complicated.
Consider how closely linked work is to a person’s daily existence.
An employee may indeed be satisfied with their primary responsibilities, but losing sleep over a lengthy and tedious daily commute. Or perhaps they feel satisfied in every dimension, but get no recognition from senior team members regarding their good work.
In a year like the one we’re having, now is a more important time than ever to nail job satisfaction in your work teams.
To help you out, we’ve gathered 15 proven ways to boost employee job satisfaction at work, some more traditional than others.
1. Offer remote work opportunities
With the emergence of COVID-19, as well as a new set of digital tools that allow working from anywhere with an internet connection, the notion of remote work has become more relevant than ever before.
If you suspect that working from the comfort of your own home makes workers happier, you’d be absolutely right.
A survey from FlexJobs revealed that 86% of workers reported that they’d be less stressed if offered flexible remote work arrangements.
Managers need not worry about reduced productivity either, as an IWG workspace survey confirmed that 85% of the 15,000 participants reported greater flexibility of workplace location led to a direct increase in productivity.
More productive, happier workers. Seems idealistic, but this can be observed in case studies of real SMEs with fully distributed workforces.
Aside from the previously reported benefits, they cite diverse voices, experiences, and worldviews as not only a distinct competitive advantage, but a key to their success.
Working from home even one day a week can benefit not only your bottom line, but your employee’s job satisfaction too.
2. Provide unique financial incentives
We hope that by nature of being a valued member of your team, your employees are set up with a generous salary that supports a comfortable lifestyle. It is a crucial element of their job satisfaction that their basic needs are met.
Even with that being the case, there are things you can do as an employer to improve the financial health of your employees outside a decent salary.
Enhanced retirement plans, protected personal investment accounts, or alternative investment accounts are all suitable options.
A recent analysis from the American Institute of CPA revealed that Americans prefer workplace benefits such as investment accounts 4 to 1 over larger salaries, and benefit types preference varies across demographics.
The more targeted the investment plan is to the context of your employee’s lives the better, as a degree of personalization will stand as a testament to your appreciation and attention.
For example, you could offer to set up an investment account for your team member’s children.
Non-traditional financial incentives are highly appreciated among the workforces of today’s economically rocky times, and are sure bet in increasing job satisfaction.
3. Surprise employees with a personalized gift
Don’t overcomplicate things.
You can create intricate incentive schemes managed on complicated digital performance-tracking databases.
Or you can just buy a simple gift when you see your team members going the extra mile.
All else being equal, employees might simply want to feel recognized and appreciated by their employers in a way that carries meaning outside the corporate structure.
Informal gift-giving is probably going to be appreciated to a greater degree than structural performance-incentives because it feels more heartfelt, personal, and meaningful.
Did your team member smash their sales targets? Why not buy them a gift card for their favorite store or a personalized gift with their name on it? How about a next-gen gaming console?
Though…some gifts are more budget friendly than others.
4. Focus on skill development
A commonly cited source of job dissatisfaction is a lack of personal and occupational development.
Human beings require constant development to achieve personal satisfaction.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theorized different elements we require to achieve the ultimate sense of self-actualization.
In the corporate context, the bottom layer of the pyramid relates to basic needs like a salary and benefits.
Moving up, you get to the psychological needs that can be satisfied by close relationships with colleagues and social activities.
To reach the peak of the pyramid, you must acquire a sense of prestige, personal accomplishment, and fulfillment of your creative potential.
Ask yourself, where do the members of your team sit on the pyramid?
The majority probably exist somewhere in the middle, which means to increase job satisfaction, you should consider offering experiences and initiatives that target their intellectual development.
Language learning is a productive area to focus on. Not only does it stimulate the intellectual and creative capacities of your team members, but it’s also beneficial for a company which has international partnerships and operations.
In practice, this could mean covering membership expenses to a language learning platform such as Preply.
In-keeping with our earlier suggestion of remote work, this tool can be easily distributed and accessed remotely, with live one-to-one tuition via video call.
5. Automate tedious tasks
No members of your team will ever tell you this, but there are facets to their job that are boring, long-winded, and more importantly, completely unnecessary.
Management consultancy group McKinsey & Co. notes that in 60% of occupations, at least a third of an office worker’s constituent tasks could be automated.
Low-value tasks such as data entry are all too often given to high-value team members, creating a huge vacuum of wasted time and potential.
One area that seems to be ripe for automation across the board is accounting, especially as it relates to the data entry side.
To what extent are your organization’s menial accounting tasks automated? If you are a small business, this effort can be almost completely absorbed by software automation that requires very little human input.
Take accountancy software Freshbooks as an example.
On this platform, things like invoice reminders and payment collection can be set to auto-pilot, which can save on operational expenses and increase the value of your team member’s output. Not to mention saving a few headaches.
6. Ensure everyone understands your goals
If you ask any business leader if they believe in the satisfaction-boosting potential of achieving goals, I’m sure they’d passionately agree.
Which makes it even weirder how often this falls by the wayside in practice.
You may have a number of stated organizational goals for your business, such as achieving x2 revenue growth over the course of the year, or expanding to an international location.
These lofty goals are great for focusing the strategic efforts of management, but what do they mean to a below management-level employee?
They will continue to perform the tasks that are delegated to them to the best of their abilities in accordance with the overall strategy regardless.
In setting large organizational goals exclusively, you may be depriving your team members the satisfaction of continual target practice.
Perhaps then, you could try to reinterpret certain ‘tasks’ into ‘goals’ to increase your employee’s day-to-day job satisfaction.
Let’s run through an example. You want to drive organic growth for your digital presence.
Traditionally, you’d interpret this to your various team members as a set of tasks – Set your goals and KPIs, create a guide to help writers create compelling content, set a dedicated team member to lead podcast production, and so on.
Reinterpreted as goals instead of tasks, you might say to your team – “We want to achieve page #1 ranking on Google search by the next quarter.”
Suddenly, the once uninteresting tasks are now exciting waypoints towards a collective aim. Achieving them will provide a greater degree of satisfaction, solely because of the framing.
7. Create a Team Environment
It’s estimated that we spend about a third of our lives working (that’s a lot of time at work), so it’s going to make things a lot easier if people enjoy the environment they work in.
Since we probably spend more time with our colleagues than our families, a team environment can play a big part in job satisfaction. Naturally, not everyone will get on with everyone, but you can create an environment where positive relationships can flourish.
Encourage people to build personal connections and foster a team environment. There are lots of different ways of doing this:
- Trivia nights
- Friday night drinks
- Team building days
- Open communication
8. Celebrate Important Days
If it’s someone’s birthday or work anniversary then celebrate it (here are some great ideas).
Businesses aren’t just faceless corporations. They’re full of unique characters that come together to create a company culture. One of the ways to grow that culture is by making the things that are important to your employees important for your business.
Celebrating important milestones is a way of showing you care about the important moments in people’s lives. It’s also a nice way to reward people for their hard work and service to your company.
9. Promote from Within
A lack of career advancement is one of the top reasons good employees leave their companies.
If your employees constantly see you’re recruiting from outside the company to fill important roles, then they’re going to question whether they can achieve their goals with your business. Your employees may be happy with every other aspect of their job, but if they don’t think they can achieve their career aspirations, then it will lead to dissatisfaction.
When you promote from within, it shows your employees there is room for growth and that they can achieve their career goals with your company.
10. Be Receptive to Feedback
Your employees can offer valuable insights into how your business runs (think Undercover Boss).
If you make sure there’s an open-door policy and show your employees that you won’t just listen to feedback, but also act on it, then it gives people a feeling that everyone is in it together. When employees feel like they’re constantly shouting into a void and their problems aren’t being solved, then it will lead to dissatisfaction.
You don’t have to act on every piece of feedback, but you may find you gain insights that can improve your business performance and employee satisfaction at the same time.
11. Recognize and Reward
Sometimes it’s nice to receive recognition beyond your salary. When people go above and beyond and do a great job for your business, then make a point of telling them.
The reward doesn’t have to be big, it’s as simple as saying, “Thanks for all your hard work, we appreciate the time you’ve been putting in.” This is why awards such as employee of the month are so popular – they’re simple ways of recognizing good work, and when done well, they’re highly appreciated.
12. Make It Easier to Stay Healthy
The office environment generally isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle.
We spend lots of time sitting down staring at a screen and this isn’t what we’re designed for. Not only is poor health bad for employee satisfaction, but it can also damage productivity.
A great way to add to your employee’s satisfaction is to help make their work environment more healthy. You can invest in their equipment, subsidized gym memberships, offer free healthy foods, or even bring a yoga professional in to offer sessions.
Your employees spend such a large amount of time in the office, so there are lots of different ways you can make this a more healthy experience.
13. Corporate Social Responsibility
People want to feel like they’re doing their part for the environment and their communities.
If they feel like the company they work for isn’t doing enough in this area, then it can be a source of dissatisfaction.
Corporate social responsibility is something businesses should naturally be doing, but it also has many positive side effects including boosting employee morale.
When an employee looks at their company and sees all the positive things it does, then they can’t help but be proud to be a part of that organization.
14. Provide a Clean, Functional Environment
Everyone would like to work in 5-star luxury.
Unfortunately, you’re limited with what you can do here, but you can still ensure you provide a clean, functional work environment. If your workspaces are unloved, chaotic, and stressful, then that’s exactly what your employees are going to feel when they walk in each morning
A good work environment is a big part of employee satisfaction and there are lots of little things you can do to improve this.
- Try to let as much light in as possible
- Bring in some plant-life
- Optimize your layout
- Be on top of cleaning
15. Show Trust in Your Employees
It’s important your employees feel like you trust in them.
You can do this by fostering an environment where there isn’t constant micromanagement, and your employees feel empowered to make decisions. There’s a difficult balance to be struck between providing the right level of guidance and over-managing someone, but when you do find the right approach it’s going to make a big difference to job satisfaction.
This expands to making sure your employees feel like you support them when they do make decisions (for example – it’s easy to be too focused on what the customer wants at the expense of the staff). The customer undoubtedly matters, but so do your employees, so make sure you’re backing them.
It’s Time to Revamp Your Team Satisfaction
Being satisfied with your job can mean a lot of things.
Hopefully, the structural management of their day-to-day tasks meets the minimum satisfaction requirements of challenge and intrigue.
However, there are two themes that appear in most of our suggestions revealing the meta-principles for increased job satisfaction–allowing team members more freedom and autonomy, and making them feel truly valued.
There are many ways to go about this, but offering flexible work arrangements, enabling continual skill development, and relieving employees of low-value tasks are sure-fire routes.
Failing that, the new Xbox will definitely do the trick. Did you hear that, boss?