Organizations invest in human resources but record poor return on investment relative to capital, infrastructure and technology. Some companies report wage bills (inclusive payroll and indirect costs) that is as high as 51% of their annual expenditures. Yet, employees remain dissatisfied: they are uninspired to produce results that will transform customer service experience and guarantee employee retention.
Employee satisfaction, a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors of job satisfaction and employee’s perception of healthy self and wellbeing, and how these interact effectively with the environment in the workplace, has been considered as a critical business growth component in the organization. It constitutes one of the micro pillars of HR architecture of the corporation capable of transforming workforce for productivity and profitability. Ironically, employers ignore its importance when they create systems to motivate their employees. Sometimes, business managers overlook it, and labour leaders who agitate on behalf of workers do not place a premium on its workability. All stakeholders fail to appreciate its significance until the deployment of money as a factor of motivation has failed woefully to produce desired performance results over a sustainable period of time.
Adewale Johnson is a top-flight Accountant in the Oil and Gas industry. He was not enjoying himself at all, and he recently got to a breaking point. He had to act fast before he loses his mind. He does not want to quit because the pay is good, yet he thinks he could add better value to himself and his employers. In my recent coaching sessions with Adewale that got him out of his career predicaments, Johnson expressed gratitude for good remunerations but expressed regrets that he has neither experienced satisfaction at work nor peace of mind. Interestingly, Johnson is not alone in his experience: he confided that most of his colleagues are equally caught in the trap of dissatisfaction at work.
Whilst Johnson is relieved through the coaching sessions, most employees in their various offices are not happy at work and their productivity level is suboptimal as a result of their problems of employee satisfaction. Employees who are caught in the web of dissatisfactions at work, and their employers/managers have to seek professional solutions for the overall good of their organizations, particularly with regards to employee retention and definitive customer service experience to enhance productivity and profitability.
Employee satisfaction does not emerge in the organization by default. It is deliberately planned by organizations and implemented by HR Managers for their employees companywide. There are tools that employers can deploy to measure workplace satisfactions after a strategic plan of action has been mapped and created. These range from surveys, focused group discussions, peer review and interviews to counseling and coaching sessions for assessment of satisfaction level of the workforce and remedial action plans to correct identified gaps in employee satisfactions companywide.
In mapping employee satisfaction, employers could deploy initial remedial actions of employee engagement that results in employee satisfactions in the workplace:
More often than not, employees want leaders who walk the talk. The most potent way to influence behaviour is for leaders and managers to exhibit the type of behaviours they expect from their employees. This is how norms and culture evolve in the organization. It is counterproductive for business leaders to display a behaviour that is at variance with expectations and assume that employees would mystically comply with workplace performance standard. Employers who expect high level of integrity from their workforce should make integrity the hallmark of its operational and customer service processes. It oppresses the mind of the employees to perceive inconsistencies in the theoretical framework and practice of organizational values and ethos.
A toxic or abuse work environment is an employee satisfaction killer. The work environment inclusive its physical and non-physical set-up should be structured in such a way that it enhances healthy and happy workplace. Employees should wake up in the morning and look forward to going to have fun at work. They should not go to work because they have to avoid sanctions or simply to mark time and get paid by the end of the month.
The job functions of employees and how they are designed are the causative factors of employee dissatisfaction in the workplace. It is time to review the job contents of employees when they express dissatisfaction with the jobs they do, or exhibit incoherent behaviour patterns in their career life. Jobs should be properly scoped, measured and allocated to roles and responsibilities, and the individuals with the right skill sets should be assigned to execute these jobs in order to engender employee satisfaction.
Employees are easily burnt out when overworked or drained of energies. Ironically, this is what most companies do. In real life, employees are human beings and not the idealized superheroes of childhood fantasies. Work should match competencies, and employees should be coached to work smart within regulation time in order to achieve pre-defined results.
Organizations that promote employee satisfaction through alignment of its HR architecture with its business strategy will thrive on two grounds: externally on customer service experience and internally on employee retention. Employee satisfaction is less capital intensive investment tool that compliments technology, systems and processes to promote organizational competitiveness. Employers of labour and managers who insist of performance cannot ignore employee satisfaction, as a tool of business growth.
Babatunde Fajimi, HR Consultant and Business Coach writes from Ikorodu, Lagos and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org or +2347080511600 (SMS only)
Postscript: Published in The Union Newspaper, Lagos, Nigeria on Management Tips with Babatunde Fajimi on Sunday, September 21, 2014
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