Employee Satisfaction and Running a Successful Business

Most employment experts will tell you that the success of any business is directly linked to the satisfaction of its employees. Retaining talented people is critical to the success of any organization; and no matter how temporarily challenged the economy may be, a company's top talent always has other options. So how do companies attract and retain their most valued resources?

There are no hard-and-fast rules for effective employee management. But the following information will help you better understand what truly motivates your workers, thus creating employee satisfaction and helping your business become successful. See FindLaw's Managing Employees section for more related articles.

Beyond a Paycheck: Identifying the Intangibles

A company's pay and benefits must be competitive in order to attract talented workers. But it may not be sufficient to just be the market leader in traditional compensation, since employees are motivated to stay or go by much more than pay and benefits. In fact, many of the keys to fostering employee satisfaction don't cost a dime.

These important intangibles include the following:

  • Employees want to be informed by their leaders (and not the media or the grapevine) about the company's important "big picture" visions, strategies, and developments.
  • Employees want to know that their individual activities and talents make a difference to the business, and they expect their leaders to articulate how their daily activities fit into the big picture.
  • Employees want accessible leaders who not only talk, but listen.

Thus, managers should regularly meet with their team members to exchange crucial information, answer questions, and invite input. Open communication must start with senior management and cascade throughout the entire organization. The employee handbook and written job descriptions should reflect these general values.

Leadership and the Importance of Management

Employees also want to contribute their own leadership skills to the organization's success, whatever their titles or positions may be. Specifically, they want to have input into the processes and participate in decisions that touch on their particular roles, while being noticed and appreciated for these contributions.

Most employees look first to their direct supervisors for daily direction and recognition. The old adage "Employees don't quit their jobs; they quit their bosses" carries a lot of weight. Employers need to ask themselves: "Are we are paying enough attention to the selection, training, and development of the managers and supervisors who directly interface with the line level employees?" If not, the employer is not likely to be meeting the expectations or aspirations of either the managers or their subordinates.

Career Development

Employees want training, career development, and (ultimately) advancement. Most people do not stay in jobs they do not know how to do well. Training and development of employees tells them that the company cares about them long-term. Companies shouldn't overlook their own experts who can provide inexpensive training on areas of their expertise. That serves two goals: providing a development opportunity and recognition for the trainer and needed information to those who attend.

Workplace Flexibility

Increasingly, employees want the company to recognize and respect that they have lives, interests, and demands outside of the workplace. Job sharing, part-time and modified schedules; telecommuting and flextime are all structural alternatives that, in appropriate circumstances, can be powerful retention tools. The FindLaw article Working From Home: The Telecommuting Issue covers the pros and cons of telecommuting from the employee's perspective.

Flexibility and choice in benefits are likewise important. Some employees are motivated by on-site or subsidized child care; others are more interested in on-site exercise facilities or health club memberships; others need assistance with elder care; and still others may want an allowance to pay for their cell phones. Many employers are abandoning strictly defined categories of sick, personal, and vacation time, opting instead for more flexible paid time off (PTO) policies that give employees greater flexibility, without having to "fake" a sick day.

Listening to Your Employees

There is no need to speculate about what employees want, as long as employers make an effort to listen. Companies can conduct employee surveys, provide suggestion boxes, and conduct exit interviews of employees who leave on their own accord. And if your business conducts exit interviews, they should be analyzed and used in order to help prioritize needed changes.

Getting Legal Help 

There is no single job perk or retention strategy that will work for all companies. Consider speaking with an employment law attorney if you have legal questions pertaining to human resource management.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified business attorney to help you prevent and address human resources problems.

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