As a manager or leader in a business, you are probably acutely aware of job satisfaction amongst employees and the benefits it can bring.
Job satisfaction is widely heralded as one of the most important factors in lower staff turnover or attrition. Yet according to a recent Job Happiness study by Indeed, one in three employees in the UK are unhappy in their job. What can be done to improve job satisfaction?
We’ve researched, analysed, and brainstormed our way to this list of the 13 best ways to increase job satisfaction amongst employees.
What is job satisfaction?
Job satisfaction is a feeling associated with one’s place of employment. An employee satisfied with their job would feel happy and positive about their work, colleagues and day-to-day tasks.
A person who does not have job satisfaction is likely to feel despondent about their work. Job satisfaction occurs when certain factors and working conditions meet the expectations of employees, these factors vary between individuals which is, in part, why it’s so hard to increase job satisfaction.
How does job satisfaction increase productivity?
The connection between job satisfaction and productivity is impossible to deny. If employees are happy and experiencing high levels of job satisfaction then it’s almost guaranteed employee engagement will go up and staff turnover will decrease.
In fact, research by Oxford University's Saïd Business School showed that happy workers are 13% more productive!
Further benefits of job satisfaction include
- Lower employee turnover
- Higher profits
- Increased loyalty
- Reduced recruitment costs
- Improved brand reputation
- Better collaboration
Employee disengagement has been estimated to cost the UK economy a colossal £340 billion each year in lost training, recruitment costs, lost productivity, innovation and of course, sick days.
What really motivates your employees?
When it comes to trying to find the best way to increase job satisfaction, it boils down to four key factors. According to Vishen Lkhiani, CEO of the $100 million company Mindvalley, these 4 things are what all employees seek from a happy workplace and job satisfaction:
Friendship, abundance, growth and meaning.
Contrary to popular belief, Vishen believes that people do not derive job satisfaction from their salary or job title, instead, it is an emotional response based on happiness and their own values.
When building this list of tangible ways you can increase job satisfaction amongst your own employees, we’ve mainly focused on this innovative approach of responding to employees’ emotions as opposed to extrinsic factors like pay or benefits.
Although employees do consider extrinsic things like salary when deciding to take a new role, it is usually not enough to maintain and cultivate high job satisfaction. That coveted feeling of happiness comes from intrinsic factors that are separate from external rewards.
Ready to find out how to increase job satisfaction and improve employee engagement for a more productive workplace?
13 Ways To Increase Job Satisfaction
- Play Detective
Before embarking on any mission to improve job satisfaction, you must do your due diligence and investigate what could be causing general unhappiness in the workplace. Sit down with your employees and ask them what could be done to make them happier.
If your workplace doesn’t yet have a culture for open feedback, consider anonymous surveys to get people to open up and be honest about their dissatisfaction.
2. Give Autonomy
Once you understand more about what’s causing job dissatisfaction, you can get to work on alleviating the situation. A common complaint from unhappy workers is a lack of control and a sense of autonomy in their work.
Research consistently shows that when workers associate their role with freedom and feel they have control over their destiny in the workplace, job satisfaction levels rise.
One way to incorporate that sense of autonomy is by introducing a hybrid work model, allowing employees to design their days and give them back their schedules.
3. Shaping Their Own Roles
Going further than hybrid working, get your employees involved in the decision-making when it comes to their career path. Make sure you schedule regular job reviews that encourage the participation of employees to decide where they would like to be in six months to a few years' time.
Individuals given the chance to design their own roles and work according to their abilities are also more likely to experience higher levels of job satisfaction.
4. Keep Things Moving
Employees often start at a company on the promise of great career progression and room for growth. When that promise fails to materialise, individuals are likely to become demotivated and run the risk of leaving for a different company.
Increase job satisfaction by ensuring employees get the opportunities and promotions they deserve. Keep them challenged in new roles that help to avoid that common millennial feeling of ‘is this it?’
5. Give Their Time Back
Did you know that the number one reason employees enjoy working from home is to avoid time wasted on a daily commute?
With an average time of 59 minutes, giving your employees the ability to work from home when time is tight could be a quick win in the job satisfaction books.
6. Social Connection
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the incredible importance of social connection and the power of relationships.
Many individuals state that a big reason why they choose to stay in a job is that they like the people they work with. As a leader, you should put fostering relationships between coworkers at the top of your priorities. Regularly scheduled social activities can encourage friendship among team members.
7. Emphasis On Work-Life Balance
With Apple officially embracing the hybrid work model, it is more clear than ever that all leaders need to understand the importance of a healthy work-life balance in order to achieve maximum job satisfaction amongst employees.
Burnout is an all too often occurrence in toxic workplaces where individuals are expected to work overtime, weekends, and holidays without being rewarded for it.
Companies need to stop fostering these unhealthy behaviours and instead encourage hybrid work, and flexible working schedules to help employees find their ideal work-life balance. Ultimately, employees like feeling respected enough by their employer that their own personal life matters. Creating ways to deliver on this will help enterprises build stability and be able to focus on building long-lasting teams.
9. Challenge Them
As a general rule, the more mentally challenging the job is, the greater the job satisfaction. People like to use their brains, so a great way to increase job satisfaction is by challenging individuals to come up with new solutions to a problem or set new goals that must be achieved by a certain date.
Of course, people should understand they will still be supported if the goals are not met, but try to push each individual to the best of their ability and capitalise on their strengths. This will boost their self-esteem and confidence in their job, leading to higher levels of satisfaction.
10. Financial Rewards
Not all employees are going to be motivated by intrinsic factors, and there are some individuals who respond very well to monetary rewards.
Financial rewards such as promotions, raise, bonuses and employee benefits are great ways that can easily create productivity in the office in the right environment. It shows employees that their hard work is recognised and they are appreciated for their efforts. But, be sure that this is the right environment to introduce money-focused goals as otherwise, it could backfire.
11. Create Belonging & Meaning
Work is the modern-day tribe, encourage it. Social connection creates happiness which boosts productivity. The need to belong is a fundamental human need.
And in this modern world where we are no longer automatically part of communities like a church, the work tribe has become a key part of our happiness. In fact, if workers feel like they belong, companies can benefit from a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days.
To increase job satisfaction amongst individuals, focus on creating a community with a friendly culture intent on working together. It will encourage a feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves. This helps to create a sense of meaning in their lives, that they are working towards a common goal.
12. Support One Another
If employees are going through a hard time in their personal life and they don’t feel supported by their company, then they will be more likely to disengage and ultimately, leave. Try to build supportive relationships between all team members, one that allows for open feedback and vulnerability.
Ensuring that your team members can approach you with anything that might be bothering them without fear of repercussion or consequences will create trust and honesty.
13. Encourage Side Projects
Although traditionally companies have taken a dim view of personal projects outside of work, some companies actively discourage them in legal contracts! A more modern approach has been emerging with companies starting to warm up to the idea of employees working on their own endeavours.
Aside from the benefits of upskilling, by encouraging side-projects, you will be leading an authentic team that is free to be themselves. As a result, they will have higher job satisfaction and be more likely to want to work hard in their role. Win, win!
It’s clear to see that there are many, many ways leaders can boost job satisfaction among employees and as a result increase engagement, motivation and overall happiness levels. It’s worthwhile taking what you can from this list and applying it in your workplace.
Graham Joyce is co-founder of DuoMe, a flexible working advocate and a frequent panellist/commentator on the issues of flexibility or hybrid working.