Recognize This! – There is value in employee satisfaction surveys, when conducted and analyzed properly.
In various blog posts over the years (see here, here, and here), I’ve explained the difference between employee satisfaction and employee engagement. It could be easy to view some those posts as a “knock” on employee satisfaction. But when viewed through the proper lens (and not using satisfaction interchangeably with engagement), measuring and surveying on employee satisfaction can also be a useful tool.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on one such valuable survey on employee satisfaction as conducted by the Conference Board. As the WSJ explains:
“The survey, which the Conference Board has conducted every year since 1987, bears some resemblance to the ‘employee engagement’ surveys that companies and polling firms engage in regularly these days. The Board distinguishes its target by saying that satisfaction is focused instead on more measurable components such as pay and benefits and ‘does not explore the full range of emotional and behavioral ways employees interact with their workplaces.’”
That’s a good distinction between satisfaction and engagement, which also weighs how well employees understand what is needed from them to achieve strategic goals and their willingness to give discretionary effort to achieve it. Satisfaction measures none of this, reporting instead on just that – employee satisfaction.
Adjusted Correlation of Determination (R²) In Predicting Job Satisfaction, By Explanatory Variable Source: The Conference Board
Be sure to read this chart in terms of its title. It’s saying that for the majority of employees, growth potential, communication channels, interest in work, and recognition are the most important factors in determining their satisfaction with their jobs.
Contrast the chart above with this one, which shows nearly an inverse relationship in how satisfied people are with these individual factors that predict job satisfaction itself.
Post-recession satisfaction with specific job components
Source: The Conference Board
Whereas employees clearly say recognition is a top 5 factor for job satisfaction, it’s also a bottom 5 factor for how well companies are, in fact, recognizing employees. That’s likely why Dr. Levanon offers as one of the key findings of the report:
“Employers would be wise to concentrate on those components considered highly important with low current levels of satisfaction. These include growth potential, communication channels, recognition, performance review, and wages.”
This isn’t all that dissimilar to the identified key drivers of employee engagement, either. Recognition is by far the number one driver of employee engagement, with career path, communication (which leads to trust) and fair pay commonly reported additional factors.
How satisfied are you with these job factors in your own workplace? How satisfied are you overall?