Satisfied workers are linked to better bottom lines. Here’s how to boost worker satisfaction at your firm.
Keeping your employees happy could be the secret to making more money.
That’s according to new research from the University of East Anglia in the UK, which finds that companies with workers who are satisfied tend to be more profitable. “Firms rated highly by their current employees in terms of satisfaction achieve greater financial performance compared to firms characterized by low levels of employee satisfaction,” the University wrote in a statement.
Researcher Dr. George Daskalakis told Moneyish that he and his fellow research authors consulted more than 326,000 online reviews of companies from Glassdoor. Only ratings from currently-employed workers at US firms were considered; reviews from former employees were excluded to mitigate bias from disgruntled employees who might have had an axe to grind.
The worker-satisfaction effect on companies has been observed in other research too, says Sigal Barsade, the Joseph Frank Bernstein professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. “What satisfaction does is it puts you in that state of a better mood, which then allows you the cognitive flexibility to do better in your work and to be more committed and more motivated, and try harder,” Barsade added. She draws a link between employees’ disposition on the job, their satisfaction in the workplace, and their work output or productivity, saying: “Low engagement and low satisfaction can absolutely reduce productivity through very similar mechanisms.”
But Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor professor of management at Wharton, cautions that worker satisfaction may not be the cause of those increased company profits; indeed, past studies have found that a company’s performance has a huge role in governing just how satisfied its workers are. “You like being with a winner… Employees that are satisfied are in more successful places,” Cappelli said.
Still, many experts think that promoting worker satisfaction is smart for companies. As study author Efthymia Symitsi noted in a statement, guaranteeing employees’ “wellbeing and general satisfaction should be a major concern for businesses.”
One way to do that: Offer good benefits, says Martin Ihrig, an adjunct professor of management at Wharton and associate dean at the New York University School of Professional Studies — as corporate perks can give employees the bandwidth they need to focus on their work. “If I don’t have to worry about cleaning services and child care and going to the gym,” because the employer is providing those incentives, “then I can spend more time figuring out work problems.”
What’s more, managers should try to make employees feel appreciated, according to a survey released earlier this month by Payscale. “An employee feeling appreciated or unappreciated moves the needle on satisfaction more than any other variable,” the report said. Here are some of the ways managers can help to make employees feel appreciated.
Ihrig agrees that making workers feel valued is key: “People spend their entire time working, so I think there’s a responsibility to create an environment for them to prosper… It is only in environments where they are comfortable that they can really work to the fullest.”
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