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Responsibility of Employee Satisfaction

I was recently sent this article on employee satisfaction.  The point of the article is employee satisfaction ultimately rests with the employees, as long as the organization provides an open, ethical workplace.  I think employee satisfaction or employee loyalty is a two-way street.  Responsibility rests with both the employee and the organization. 

The author makes several points I want to comment upon:

1.  "Employee satisfaction should be an outcome."  I agree with this, by making the work environment one where employees want to be there, satisfaction or loyalty will come as a result. 

2.  "[E]thical, moral, respectful treatment of employees should be a given in workplaces."  It should be a given, and if it were, I think companies would have more loyal employees.  However, this is just not the case.  Nationally only about 6 out of 10 employees view their company as an ethical company and just over half of the employees view Senior Leaders as people of high personal integrity.  So these things should be a given, but unfortunately for many, many companies, they are not.

3.  "[T]he discussion about employee satisfaction should be about how to engage and empower employees."  I completely agree, satisfaction is a minimum threshold of workplace happiness but has little impact on employee behavior.  However, the author goes on to say you can select employees who are engaged and empowered already.   Huh?  I recognize there are going to be characteristics that you would like to select on that would increase the likelihood of the employee being successful.  ExactHire is a company that is an expert at determining what makes employees’ successful and then hiring on those characteristics.  What I am confused about is, how can you select someone who is engaged before they enter the workplace?  They might have characteristics that highly engaged employees tend to have but I do not think it is quite so clear cut as just hiring those who are engaged and empowered. 

4.  The author would like to do a "better job of providing a framework of expectations and goals that sets employees free to contribute because they know where they are supposed to be going and what they are supposed to be doing. And, I’d like to get better at providing regular feedback and only rewarding and recognizing real contribution."  I agree, this is where the companies’ role in employee loyalty comes into play.  I have worked with 100s of companies over the past 10 years, many of which are on the list of Best Places to Work.  These companies are very progressive and considerate of how they treat the employees, they truly are a Best Place to Work.  I feel like the article tries to make the point that employee satisfaction is all on the employees, while it is a two-way street, clearly the company has to provide an environment where employees can be successful. 

5.  "Do you care about the satisfaction of employees who aren’t performing at their utmost for their customers, their coworkers, and the business? I don’t. In fact, I want them gone."  I think this is a somewhat short-sighted view.  While initially this makes sense, you don’t want employees who are not performing, what about employees who might be satisfied and a high performer, if certain company policies were modified (flexible work schedules, better development path, benefits)?  There are many factors that influence the employee-employer relationship and while a couple have been mentioned here, there are many others that can impact the relationship.  Just writing off employees with such a broad brush approach is not healthy for a company.

6.  "It’s not my job to make up for an employee’s lifetime of blah experiences, bad parenting, poor outcomes, half-baked contributions, failure to take responsibility, and unhappy life choices. All I can do is create a respectful work environment in which employees know what is expected and are enabled to do their jobs – successfully and effectively."  While it is not the job of HR, it is a fact that HR will have to deal with this, unless there are only 2 people in the company.  Humans are complex, emotional beings, not robots, so their lifetime of experiences is what makes us who we are.  Just explaining to employees what their job is and giving them what they need, does not necessarily equate to a happy and productive employee.  There are other factors in the employee-employer relationship that must be considered. 

7.  "Employee satisfaction is largely a choice employees make. I’ll try to stay out of their way while they create it."  I don’t agree with this at all, neither does the author.  I think this could be rephrased to say, if I make the company one that employees want to be part of, and give them what is necessary to be successful in their job, then you can get out of the way and let the employees decide if this is the company for them. 

About the Author

Chris Woolard

Chris Woolard

Chris is responsible for the sale, design, implementation, account management, and consulting for his clients’ employee and customer assessment programs. He focuses on employee loyalty consulting and is considered Walker’s employee loyalty expert. He has worked with many companies on customer due diligence solutions.

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