What’s the relationship between employee engagement and job satisfaction? It can seem to be one of those chicken-and-egg scenarios. Which came first? Are your employees engaged with your organization because they’re satisfied with their jobs? Or are they satisfied with their jobs because they’re engaged with your organization? 

Simply put, employee engagement leads to job satisfaction. Without engagement at work, employees are not likely to be very satisfied with their jobs. Why? Because job satisfaction, researchers tell us, depends largely on how well job meets certain basic emotional needs. 

Yes, a paycheck is important. Employees do need to feel they are being paid fairly. But that need is not as strong as you might think. In fact, a report issued in June by LinkedIn showed nearly 9 of 10 millennials surveyed would take a pay cut to join an organization that aligns more closely with their personal values. Millennials, like everyone else, want to feel good about their organization, and their role in it. 

Chances are, the level of job satisfaction in your company depends on how well your organization – and its employee engagement program – addresses certain emotional needs that all employees have, to one degree or another. In this post, you’ll learn about four key needs to focus on and corresponding tactics that address those needs. 

The needs are:

  1. Challenging work
  2. Sense of autonomy
  3. Sense of belonging
  4. Operating without fear 

Need No. 1: Challenging Work 

Challenging work does not mean more work. The FedEx clerk who must work through lunch or stay late every day will certainly feel challenged – but not in the sense that drives satisfaction. 

Rather, think in terms of work that is difficult to accomplish, yet still possible to accomplish. Your employees want to be challenged to be learning constantly. They want to solve a problem for a customer, experience their gratitude and feel good about that accomplishment. Long-term, they want to feel they’ve earned the right to feel they are better at their job today than they were six months ago. 

Engagement Tactic: Inform & Inspire. One way to help employees feel the reward of challenging work is to ensure the lines of communication are open. They need to know that both career advancement and a clear path forward is available to them. Keep employees plugged in by promoting interactive content, leadership messaging, new product/service training and fast-track career advancement opportunities. 

Need No. 2: A Sense of Autonomy 

Autonomy helps employees to see they are in control of their career. Have you ever been presented with a significant problem to solve at work and given the freedom to come up with a solution and the liberty execute it? How did it go? Odds are that you learned from the experience, and you’ve used that wisdom to improve your performance ever since. Autonomous experiences make work tremendously satisfying.  

Engagement Tactic: Reward & Recognize. A corporate pat on the back never hurt anyone. Organizations with engaged workforces reward and recognize employees who take the initiative. They institute companywide engagement activities with points and badges that may be redeemed for prizes and certificates. These actions reinforce initiative, encouraging employees to continually strive to do great work. 

employee engagement app

Need No. 3: A Sense of Belonging 

Conversely, employees feel higher job satisfaction when they feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Collaboration goes right into a sense of belonging – knowing that they are playing a role in the mission, vision and values of your company. This need is inherent in employees at every level of an organization. 

Psychologist Barry Schwartz, author of Why We Work, found that janitors at a major teaching hospital were among the most satisfied people on staff. One janitor cited that beyond mopping and scrubbing, his role was to make patients and their families comfortable during their hospital stay. 

Instilling that type of belonging can be particularly important to employees who work remotely or in the field. How is the home-based customer service representative made to feel they play a key role in the overall level of customer satisfaction the company achieves? Or the HVAC technician? 

Engagement Tactic: Hear Your Employees. Track employee ideas, insights and opinions with instant feedback surveys and polls. Listening to employees’ input, and sharing their workplace experiences and stories with team members and others deepen employees’ sense of belonging, and serves as inspiration for others. Encouraging employees to share their experiences helps you to keep your finger on the pulse of your culture so you can stream future content that hits home. 

Need No. 4: Operating Without Fear 

Few organizations that manage through fear operate at peak efficiency. Fear is corrosive to a company’s culture. It destroys the will needed to do everything a healthy company wants from its employees, especially trust, commitment, creativity, collaboration and innovation. 

As more companies become less hierarchical, management by fear is likely to fade. Instead of relying on fear, it’s far better, researchers say, for management to create a safe environment, supply the right tools and resources and provide job security as much as possible. 

Engagement Tactic: Analyze Metrics. Open and effective two-way communication throughout an organization is crucial to employees’ confidence across the board. That’s where metrics come in. By tracking which messages, campaigns and channels employees best interact with, you can adapt future engagement efforts to further support that confidence. By giving employees information they need and when they needed it, organizations help put employees at ease. And that allows them to focus on their work, their customers and the overall health of the organization.  

Targets, Tactics and Tools 

This post is intended to help you identify targets and tactics designed to help you push employee engagement – and job satisfaction – to all-time highs.

A word about tools. Take a look at your current strategy and determine what you may be missing – especially if you have a workforce that’s on the go.  Do you have a system in place to address each of the needs mentioned above? Do you have one platform that allows you to execute each engagement tactic?

If your employee engagement program lacks such a platform, it’s time to consider a tool like the hubEngage. Its singular purpose is help you maximize your employee engagement program to unleash the power of an engaged workforce.

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