How to improve job satisfaction and increase employee engagement.

Today, business owners face the challenges of maintaining productivity, as well as keeping their workforce engaged and motivated. The answer lies with creating a work environment that maintains employee job satisfaction, as well as motivates people toward exceptional performance.

A new survey conducted by the Conference Board showed only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work. This is the lowest level ever recorded by the Conference Board in more than 22 years of research.

Those businesses that fail to improve job satisfaction are at risk of losing their top talented people to the competition. Supervisors and managers who maximize the potential, creative abilities and talents of their entire workforce have a greater competitive advantage than those who don’t.

How to increase job satisfaction

The leaders of an organization have the responsibility for creating a high level of job satisfaction. A motivating environment is one that gives workers a sense of pride in what they do. To show supervisors and managers how to build a more productive work environment, I’ve created a five-step process called the PRIDE system. Leaders can improve motivation within their organizations by following this process:

  • Provide a positive working environment
  • Reward and recognition
  • Involve and increase employee engagement
  • Develop the skills and potential of your workforce
  • Evaluate and measure job satisfaction

Step 1: Provide a positive working environment

Creating job satisfaction begins by first providing a positive work environment. Fran Tarkenton says to find what motivates people, “you have to find what turns people on.” This is the most important factor in the process. A motivating working environment requires going over and beyond the call of duty and providing for the needs of the worker.

Walt Disney World Company provides an excellent work environment for their employees or “cast members.” Employee assistance centers are spread strategically across the theme park. Some of the services included employee discount programs, childcare information, money orders, postage stamps, check cashing, and bus passes. The Walt Disney Company realizes that taking care of their employee’s needs keep them motivated, on the job and loyal to the company.

Step 2: Reward and recognition

Personal recognition is a powerful tool in building morale and motivation. A pat on the back or a personal note from a peer or a supervisor does wonders. Small, informal celebrations are many times more effective than a once a quarter or once a year formal event.

Graham Weston, co-founder and CEO of Rackspace Managed Hosting, gives the keys to his BMW M3 convertible for a week to his top performing employees. This creative way to reward employees has a bigger impact than cash. He says, “If you gave somebody a $200 bonus, it wouldn’t mean very much. When someone gets to drive my car for a week, they never forget it.”

Step 3: Involve and engage the workforce

People may show up for work, but are they engaged and productive? People are more committed and engaged when there is a process for them to contribute their ideas and employee suggestions. This gives them a sense of ownership and pride in their work.

The Sony Corporation fosters the exchange of ideas within departments by sponsoring an annual Idea Exposition. During the exposition, scientists and engineers display projects and ideas they are working on. Open only to Sony’s employees, this process creates a healthy climate of innovation and engages all those who participate.

Step 4: Develop workers’ skills and potential

Training and education motivates people and makes them more productive and innovative. At Federal Express, all customer contact people are given six weeks of training before they ever answer the phone. Learning never stops and testing continues throughout their employment. Every six months customer service people are tested using an online computer system. Pass/fail results are sent to each employee within 24 hours. They receive a personalized “prescription” on areas that need reviewing with a list of resources to help. Federal Express’ intensive training and development program has resulted in higher motivation and lower turnover.

Well-trained employees are more capable and willing to assume more control over their jobs. They need less supervision, which frees management for other tasks. Employees are more capable to answer the questions of customers, which builds better customer loyalty. Employees who understand the business, complain less, are more satisfied and are more motivated. All this leads to better management-employee relationships.

Step 5: Evaluate and measure job satisfaction

The primary purpose of evaluation is to measure progress and determine what needs improving. Continuous evaluation includes, but is not limited to, the measurement of attitudes, morale and motivation of the workforce. It includes the identification of problem areas needing improvement and the design and implementation of an improvement plan. Good organizations conduct a job satisfaction survey at least once a year.

Businesses have searched far and wide for a competitive advantage. A true competitive advantage is trained and motivated people proudly working together, contributing their energy toward the goals of the business.

Gregory P. Smith shows businesses how to build productive and profitable work environments that attract, keep and motivate their workforce. He speaks at conferences and is the president of a management consulting firm called Chart Your Course International located in Conyers, Georgia. Reach him at 770-860-9464.