Even in the best of situations, no one enjoys their job all day, every day. However, certain policies, practices and environmental factors can boost the likelihood of generally-content employees in any given workplace.
Because satisfied workers tend to hold longer and more successful tenures at their places of employment, companies and managers should absolutely have a vested interest in reinforcing management behaviors and actions that elicit a positive response from employees.
Not sure whether your work life falls into the “satisfactory” category? Read on for a full guide to job satisfaction: what it is, what causes it and how employers can make it more readily available and accessible for current and future employees alike.
What is job satisfaction?
Job satisfaction — or employee satisfaction — is the contentment and achievement an employee experiences with their job responsibilities and work environment. In practice, job satisfaction doesn’t always coincide with a feeling of joy or outright happiness, but often manifests as an overall sense of security, stability and the earnest belief that your actions at work make a difference.
Key factors of job satisfaction
The factors contributing to job satisfaction of course vary depending on the workplace and the preferences of individual employees, but a few key points of focus can help employers cultivate and maintain a supportive encouraging, and congenial office atmosphere. For example:
It’s true that adult employees don’t need constant or over-the-top praise for fulfilling the requirements of their jobs. However, acknowledging and rewarding excellent work allows managers to set an aspirational standard for employees to view as a concrete goal. On a purely human level, a manager choosing to tell her high performers that she recognizes their consistent efforts makes them feel appreciated, which contributes to their general sense of job satisfaction.
If an employee feels that her work performance and responsibilities aren’t adequately reflected in her compensation package, she’s likely to feel discouraged and undervalued, even if the work itself and the office environment fulfill her expectations. Researching market norms for the industry in question and ensuring that employees receive fair pay keeps workers feeling committed to their positions and to the company at large and keeps them motivated to continue producing quality work.
Even the most enthusiastic and dedicated employees can fall victim to career burnout, which often happens as a result of excessive pressure from management. Expecting your reports to devote a surplus of time and energy to their on-the-clock pursuits at the expense of their personal lives will inevitably result in exhaustion and resentment, and both the work and the office vibe will unquestionably suffer. Openly celebrating the concept of work-life balance and structuring employee workloads in order to accommodate it will provide managers with satisfied teams who subsequently possess a greater ability to bring their best ideas and efforts to their projects.
Safe and positive work environment
Every employee should feel safe and secure in the workplace, and if you as a manager notice any behaviors, topics of conversation or institutional practices that infringe on this unalienable right, it’s your responsibility to use any means at your disposal to put an end to them. In addition to forcefully condemning and punishing sexual harassment, managers must firmly establish that discriminatory actions of any kind will be met with consequences up to and including termination.
If you’re a manager who likes to see work performed in a particular fashion and who cares deeply about details, these inclinations and preferences may reveal themselves in the form of “micromanagement”. However, supervisors who effectively oversee teams of high achievers allow their reports a degree of independence. This communicates a manager's trust in their reports and helps those employees claim ownership of their own work, which often goes hand-in-hand with a more direct investment in the success of their projects.
Managers who leave their employees constantly wondering where they stand contributes (sometimes unwittingly) to a climate of uncertainty, distrust and- in some cases- even fear. Speaking directly with reports when questions or concerns arise removes this uncomfortable state of limbo and establishes a manager as an approachable leader who wants her employees to succeed.
Possibility of growth
In terms of career progress, a “dead-end job” can, by nature, prove demoralizing. Employees who work hard and produce solid results frequently (and rightfully) want to know that their triumphs can conceivably lead to higher positions, more authority and autonomy and larger paychecks. A manager who makes her employees aware of advancement potential and provides support — via references and encouragement — if and when they choose to throw their hats in the ring for promotions gives them incentive to stay with the company and to keep bringing in their best work.
How can employers increase job satisfaction?
While every individual’s definition of job satisfaction varies depending on their own experiences and preferences, employers can actively pursue initiatives and office policies aimed at improving conditions for their reports and making the office as a whole feel like a positive and welcoming environment. These steps can include:
Scheduling one-on-one meetings with your team members to check in on their progress and to ask them for candid reactions regarding their workloads/the dynamics of the office.
Seeking out ways to distribute work tasks so that no employee feels overburdened or underutilized.
Encouraging employees to take full advantage of the paid time off they earn as part of their compensation packages.
Restricting after-hours and weekend communications (emails, text messages, etc) to emergency situations only.
If an employee shows promise in a particular area, cultivating their skill development by assigning them tasks that make use of that ability/knowledge and, if possible, offering class enrollment or seminar attendance opportunities.
Striving to communicate effectively with your own supervisor, and if the circumstance arises, requesting policies and practices that will benefit your employees.
If your employee tells you that she’d like to move up within the company and you genuinely consider her work worthy of a promotion, advocating for her and provide her with an excellent reference when the time comes.