I just finished reading Patrick Lencioni’s book, “3 Signs of a Miserable Job”. Originally published over nine years ago, Lencioni was almost prophetic in calling out the importance of making sure employees are happy at work.

Today we call it employee engagement, employee happiness or employee satisfaction.

Lencioni points out that in order for any employee to be happy there are three things that need to happen with their jobs:

  1. The Job Must Be Measurables – A way that each employee can tell whether or not they are doing a good job. It can’t be subjective and THEY must be able to measure it.
  2. The Job Must Make An Impact – A clear understanding of what specific difference or positive impact each employee’s job making in the lives of those around them (customers, other employees, bosses etc). I would go further and say that they need to understand the vision of the business and more specifically the core purpose, the “why”.
  3. The Employee Must Feel Cared For –  Lencioni calls the opposite of this “anonymity”. Each employee needs to know someone cares about them. Managers can’t fake this or pretend, they actually have to care about what’s going on in an employee’s life. Who would care if that employee left?

Why Is Employee Happiness A Big Deal Now?

There is a sea change happening in the marketplace. Employees are increasing becoming the ones in control. This is similar to what happened in the early 2000s with the rise of social media and the ability for customers to give unfiltered feedback about a their experience.

Review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and others allow customers to do research on any company. Consumers also provide feedback on how well the company is delivering on its brand promise. The customer is in control.

This is also becoming true for employees. Sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn allow employees to get information and connect with other employees.

A company cannot hide how it is treating its employees. If an employee has a bad experience with an employer, they are likely to tell everyone about it (like in the case with the NY Times article critical of the culture at  Amazon).

This trend is putting even more pressure on small businesses. They are being held accountable by both the customer and the employee.

I pointed these stats out in a previous article, but all this pressure on employers is still not translating in improved performance or engagement.

  • Employees are still not engaged (read happy) (<32% of employees are engaged)
  • Employees are not getting any more productive (productivity has only increased 1.2% over the past 10 years)
  • Employees are less loyal and moving toward freelance opportunities (average employee churn is increasing at 16.1% and by 2020 40% of all employees will be freelance employees).

So back to Lencioni’s book. The reasons why employees are not happy certainly ring truer now than they did in 2007.

What Can You Do About Employee Satisfaction?

So what can you do about it? It seems like an almost impossible task. Here are 3 steps toward reversing the trend (at least in your company) and increase your employee’s satisfaction.

  1. Take an assessment

How happy are your employees? Do you even know? For all you know, your employees are excited and engaged, but how do you really know? Measure your employee churn. If it’s greater than 15%, it’ time to really get your arms around why.

Consider doing an employee survey. There are several free platforms like SurveyMonkey or Google Surveys to create simple surveys to ask employees questions like:

  • I feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things.
  • My work gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment.
  • On my job, I have clearly defined quality goals.
  • Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your job?
  1. Create a plan for addressing your weaknesses (and communicate it)

What did the survey tell you? What are the top 3 areas where employees have expressed frustration or concern? Communicate those areas back to your team and your plan to address them.

Be honest. Let your team know that you’re not perfect and that you are going to do X, Y and Z to course correct.

  1. Implement a system to keep employees happy

We believe (and so does Lencioni) that a major component of employee happiness is measurables. How are you currently measuring employee performance?

What system (management or technology) are you using to provide regular feedback to employees. How are you letting them know they are doing a good job?

Employees are your biggest asset and value driver. Making sure they are happy is critical to the long-term success of your organization. Want to find up what we’ve learned?

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