One of the least understood items in the business world today is how to accurately determine employee satisfaction - or ESAT for short.
So what is employee satisfaction?
It is a descriptive phrase that is used to reflect employees' self-reported contentment about the business in which they work, in addition to the extent that their wants and needs are perceived to have been met by the organization.
Humans are complex creatures with a broad range of emotions, expectations and personality types. Individuals are often brilliant in their ability to hide true feelings with masks. The phrase, "you cannot judge a book by its cover," was designed practically for people. What leaders believe to be true about their subordinates may actually be false (and vice verse)!
An agreeable employee who always has a smile on his face might simply be a man who does not enjoy confrontation, so he holds his opinion back to be perceived as a team player. Meanwhile, his boss thinks everything is going great!
One employee might not reveal to her superior that she has been frustrated for weeks because she is intimidated and does not want to jeopardize her employment. Her boss has not sensed any issues and is happy with the employee's work!
Another employee believed his insight on a mission-critical project could have been valuable, but when no one asked for his input, he felt defeated and devalued. His boss did not want to burden the employee with an additional project. In fact, the boss did use the employee's input that he had casually mentioned several forgotten weeks earlier!
What each of these imaginary workers has in common was that each wore a mask that hid his or her true feelings. Additionally, no one asked how each of the three people was feeling. It is easy to understand how miscommunication can occur in such situations.
Masks decrease a leader's ability to determine employee satisfaction accurately.
In fact, there is a very simple way for a business - of any size - to uncover a more accurate reflection of workers' satisfaction. TaskUs recommends asking workers how they are feeling through anonymous employee surveys. The results of such surveys produce a high-value, reportable and quantifiable metric known as Employee Satisfaction (ESAT).
How to Calculate ESAT
ESAT is surveyed at the individual level, yet almost always reported at the aggregate level. A single data point will not tell an organization much more than whether or not an individual employee is happy working where she or he is employed. Only through reporting at the aggregate level will an entire company - especially those workers on the front line - feel empowered to facilitate and expect positive change as employee satisfaction is addressed in a meaningful way. At TaskUs, we lead from the frontline.
Employes replying to an ESAT survey are asked to measure their satisfaction on a five-point scale (or ten-point scale, depending on the organization):
1 = Very Dissatisfied
2 = Somewhat Dissatisfied
3 = Neither Satisfied nor Dissatisfied
4 = Somewhat Satisfied
5 = Very Satisfied
The next step is to receive the surveys, add the individual responses (for each choice) and then divide by the number of total surveys received.
For example, if 120 out of the 300 responses returned either a "Somewhat Dissatisfied" or "Very Dissatisfied" response, leadership would know that 40% had self-determined that problems existed within the organization that had negatively impacted her or his overall happiness as an employee for the period in question. Such results provide quantifiable data that might suggest a stronger attention to culture be warranted. Conversely, a high ESAT score can indicate that employee satisfaction is at a sufficient level to continue down the current path.
Why Does ESAT Matter?
Employee satisfaction matters both to the business and to the workers themselves for a myriad of reasons . Let's focus on 3 "E-themed" reasons to provide insight into why higher ESAT scores help your business!
1. Engagement - An October 2013 Gallup poll revealed a startling statistic: only 13% of global employees feel engaged at work! When isolated, the resulting data from workers in the United States and Canada did not fare much better - a mere 29% reported feeling engaged. Perhaps more troubling for the region, a full 18% reported feeling "actively disengaged."
When employees disengage or do not feel engaged with either their jobs or their companies, happiness levels decline. Unhappiness correlates to declines in productivity. In fact, a study from the University of Warwick revealed that workers who were happy were 12% more productive than workers who were not! Further, a Gallup poll showed that when workers felt actively engaged, profitability and productivity soared 20%!
Simply put: All organizations require engaged employees for long-term health and stability. Increased engagement leads to stronger ESAT scores. Considering nine out of every ten startups fail, how confident are you that your startup (or established business) can ignore engaging your team and become the one exception?
2. Expectations - In 2015, Millennials became the largest cohort in American business currently working. As with every generation that has come before it, Millennials have certain expectations for their employers and for their individual roles. When expectations are met, satisfaction levels increase. When expectations have not been met ESAT declines.
Employers that seek to increase ESAT scores should reflect upon what Millennials expect and whether or not such expectations align with current policies, roles and leadership styles within the organization. Naturally, Millennials are not the only cohort working in business currently, so leaders will want to adapt, when feasible, to best meet the expectations of the employee - and his or her generation - in question.
So what do Millennials expect? Millennial expect to share in responsibilities. They want to learn at the micro level so that when the appropriate time comes they are equipped to take on more senior roles within an organization. Millennials expect that their employers respect their expectation of having a high-quality work-life balance. Millennials expect feedback. After receiving regular feedback from parents, teachers and mentors their entire lives, a workplace that does not regularly and effectively communicate feedback can lower their satisfaction with their roles and the organization.
Millennials expect transparency; They do not value gatekeepers or roadblocks to information, as they have always known life with the totality of the world's history and knowledge in their technological devices. Organizations that send out ESAT surveys - regularly - plus then follow-up by sharing the results publically and how each concern will be address and improved will earn Millennials' trust. However, know this: "Regularly" means being consistent; There's no going back. Millennials - in fact, all cohorts - deserve to have their concerns heard and addressed. It would be a breach of earned trust to stop.
3. Excellent Culture - Workers spend an average of 8.8 hours per day at their jobs. When workers experience satisfaction with their roles and their companies, they feel motivated to excel and to produce great work! It should not surprise anyone that an organization's culture can and does drive employee motivation.
But did you know that when culture motivates employees, it has an increased effect on customer satisfaction (CSAT)? It's true!
Southwest Airlines has long been lauded for its incredible culture and how it motivates its employees. As a direct result, it has the highest CSAT scores in the industry. Conversely, employees at United Airlines exhibit the lowest motivation scores in the industry. As a direct correlation, United's CSAT scores are also the lowest!
Consider the grocery industry for a moment. What stores do you feel most satisfied with when you shop? If Trader Joe's or Whole Foods were your answers, know that its employees have the highest motivation levels in the industry. These two stores rank #1 and #2 for CSAT scores. What chain had the lowest motivated employees, along with the lowest CSAT score? Albertson's. The chances are high that you did not select it.
The point? An excellent culture drives employee satisfaction and motivates. Culture is critically important; It has a correlational relationship with CSAT scores!
Employee satisfaction matters to your business. Leaders who do their part of communicating effectively with workers will benefit from increased engagement, stronger alignment of expectations and achieve excellence throughout the organization as ESAT scores soar!
- Crabtree, Steve. “Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work.” Gallup.com. Gallup, Inc., 08 Oct. 2013. Web. 09 Dec. 2016.
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- Oswald, Andrew J., Eugenio Proto, and Daniel Sgroi. “New Study Shows We Work Harder When We Are Happy.” University of Warwick. University of Warwick, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2016.
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