It’s not hard to figure out that when your employees are happy at work, things just seem to run smoother. It’s not your imagination—satisfied employees are a key reason behind business success. Employee satisfaction is linked to more satisfied customers, a more productive workforce, and more profits. The problem is that most employees are generally dissatisfied with their employment situation. According to the Answers American Employee Study,1 most companies only score 65 out of 100 possible points on the employee satisfaction scale (the minimum score for meeting expectations is 80).
According to the statistics, it’s very likely you will benefit from efforts to improve your employees’ morale. So—where to start? It turns out that the most significant factor in employee satisfaction is this: employees who feel they make progress in meaningful work are much more satisfied, happier, and motivated. Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer call this the Progress Principle. “Whether workers are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress—even a small win—can make all the difference in how employees feel and perform.”2
As a business owner, corporate executive, or manager, you are a prime mover in facilitating employee satisfaction. Here are four simple steps you can take to implement the Progress Principle:
Listen to your employees
Actively listen and acknowledge your employees’ ideas – an employee who has a manager that listens and acknowledges suggestions and ideas feels more positive about their projects and your business.
Clarify roles and responsibilities
Clear up any confusion about your fundamental expectations and priorities for each employee. When roles and responsibilities are clear, your employees feel better about owning their project or task and being held accountable for it. Uncertainty about expectations and priorities not only drags down employee satisfaction, it also makes them less productive and efficient.
Put everything in context
Tie projects and assignments into the larger vision of the business and the business’s objectives. Help your employees understand how their work contributes in a meaningful way to the company and why it is important to the organization’s vision and success. This will help employees stay motivated and enthusiastic.
Keep communication lines open
Enable and encourage open communication, both top-down and bottom-up. This allows free sharing of ideas as well as the ability to quickly identify and surmount obstacles.
When employees understand that their work is valued, they are more apt to fi nd their job fulfi lling and meaningful and be more loyal to you and your business. Satisfi ed employees work harder and smarter, which increases customer satisfaction, productivity, and profi ts. Don’t be surprised if you see other benefi ts too. Open communication with employees will help you better manage and understand your business, helping you to better position your business to thrive. Examine your current work environment to see what you can do to improve your employees’ satisfaction. Implementing the Progress Principle is a good start to help motivate your employees and boost your bottom line.
1 Feinberg, E. (2014). The Answers American Employee Study: A New Perspective on Employee Attitudes and Behaviors. Answers.
2 Amabile, T., & Kramer, S. J. (2011, May). The Power of Small Wins. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2011/05/the-power-of-small-wins