Employee satisfaction is about keeping your workers happy with the tangible and intangible aspects of their jobs. A well-paid employee is not always a happy employee because satisfaction goes deeper than just pay.

While improving employee satisfaction is not simple, it boosts employee engagement, loyalty, productivity and, ultimately, affects your bottom line.

So, let’s define employee satisfaction, see how it is measured, and explore five ways to enhance it.

What is employee satisfaction?

Employee satisfaction is a term that defines how satisfied employees are with all aspects of their job – responsibilities, environment, management, pay, benefits, and future opportunities. Ensuring employees are satisfied is essential for any business because it reflects their overall sentiment toward the business.

Satisfied employees care about their business and are motivated to do their part for its success. On the other hand, employees with low job satisfaction are more likely to underperform, do the minimum to keep their jobs, or quit.

Why does employee satisfaction matter?

  • Productivity – satisfied employees are dedicated to their tasks and rarely absent from work.
  • Employee retention – happy employees stay longer with their employers, which presents significant cost-saving for hiring and training employees.
  • Company culture – when employees are satisfied, they add to the positive company culture, build relationships with their colleagues, and proactively suggest improvement.

How can you measure employee satisfaction?

If you can measure and track something, you can also improve it. Here are a couple of popular ways to quantify employee satisfaction.

Employee satisfaction surveys

Send anonymous employee surveys to understand how workers feel about different aspects of your organization. 

Keeping the surveys short and quantitative will help you get more submissions. However, qualitative feedback may be more valuable as it gives details. Aim for a balanced approach. 

Also, allow employees to add their answers to questions. Often, you are not aware of all possible responses. So, don’t limit your employees, but give them room to share.

With AI, you can quickly create employee satisfaction surveys. You just type in your goal, generate the survey, and validate the suggested questions and replies. One example of how to do this is through Opinion Stage, an interactive survey, poll, and quiz maker.

Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

Employee Net Promoter Score puts a numerical value to the question, “How likely are you to recommend this company to others?”

Responses range from 0 (extremely unlikely) to 10 (extremely likely). They fall into three groups: 

  • 0-6 Detractors – dissatisfied employees.
  • 7-8 Passives – employees who are content but not excited about your company.
  • 9-10 Promoters – your biggest supporters.

eNPS = %Promoters – %Detractors

“eNPS transforms an abstract concept by turning employee satisfaction into a trackable and benchmarkable metric.

I joined a team that had the lowest eNPS in the business. We collaborated with our People & Culture department to understand the issues, learned from high-scoring teams and developed a plan.

When the next survey came around, we had a tangible figure to improve upon and benchmarks from other teams to aspire to. It told us our actions were the right ones.”
Danny Mitchell, Head of Content @Heimdal

What’s a good employee satisfaction score?

In an ideal world, your employee net promoter score can be 100. In practice, eNPS above 10 is good, while over 30 is excellent. 

A view of people in a coworking space.

How to improve employee satisfaction

As employee satisfaction evaluates the overall content with your organization, you need to improve in many different areas. It’s a mix of happiness with tangible aspects such as pay and perks and intangible factors like work-life balance, acknowledgment, and development opportunities.

Employees who get paid well but don’t enjoy the company atmosphere will lose their drive at work. They may still do the job but lack involvement and proactivity.

On the other hand, competent employees who are underpaid will look for other opportunities and leave as soon as they get a better offer.

Provide competitive compensation and benefits

People mainly work to earn a living, provide for their families, and have financial stability. So, when discussing employee satisfaction, it’s crucial to start with compensation and benefits. 

A Gartner study of over 3,500 employees showed that 2 in 3 people believe their pay is unfair. As a result, they are less engaged at work and more likely to quit than those who think they receive fair compensation.

To keep your pay and benefits competitive and ensure employee satisfaction:

  • Adjust salaries every year against the rate of inflation.
  • Make scheduled salary reviews at regular intervals part of your policies.
  • Consult statistical data on the average pay in different roles.
  • Follow employee benefits trends and introduce those that make sense for your organization.

Promote work-life balance

Work-life balance is essential for employees’ mental and physical health. Workers with time to rest and manage their personal lives can focus on their jobs during working hours. Conversely, employees who lack work-life balance are susceptible to stress and more likely to burn out. 

There are multiple reasons why an employee might struggle to balance work and off-work commitments – long commute to work, single parenting, making part of a two-income household, family caregiving, health issues, etc. Some workers might face several of these challenges at once. 

To support your workers’ work-life balance and improve job satisfaction:

  • Hold one-on-one meetings to stay connected to your workforce.
  • Introduce flexible working hours and allow fully remote or hybrid work to give your employees optimal flexibility.
  • Offer coworking allowance for workers who feel lonely and want to work outside the house.
  • Crafting policies that support the needs of your workforce – you can do this by holding surveys or reviewing statistical data about your employees.

Give timely and specific feedback

Employees want to know how they’re doing, so feedback plays a role in employee satisfaction. Timely, well-structured, and considerate feedback allows workers to learn and improve, encouraging them to do more of what they’re good at. 

Managers who provide feedback need to work on their interpersonal skills, i.e., how they communicate with others. Sharing opinions and observations about an employee’s work can be a delicate conversation, especially if they have been underperforming. So, managers have to develop their communication skills and deliver feedback in a way that supports and encourages.

Some ways to use feedback to enhance employee satisfaction include:

  • Giving immediate feedback instead of waiting for quarterly or yearly reviews.
  • Understanding that feedback has to support and direct employees, not judge and discourage them.
  • Providing feedback, and especially critique, only in private.
  • Creating a two-way dialogue where you’re open to employee feedback as well.

Offer training and development opportunities

Training and development allow employees to level up their competencies, acquire new skills, and follow professional interests. Employees who see room for career growth feel motivated, engaged, and curious to learn. So, it’s no wonder training and development can influence employee satisfaction and tenure.

It’s important to highlight that career development is not just about vertical growth, i.e., in level of seniority. Some employees want to switch departments – horizontal growth, or gain new skills and knowledge while staying in the same role – steady-state experts.

A view of people in a coworking space.

To leverage training and development opportunities for employee satisfaction:

  • Provide quarterly or yearly training for every department, depending on the new trends and developments in every field.
  • Create personal development plans for each employee, helping them grow their career in their desired direction.
  • Set up mentorship programs to encourage knowledge exchange between employees.
  • Create a culture of talent sharing between departments.

Engage employees in decision-making

Employees feel satisfied when they see their opinions matter. By involving your workforce in decision-making, you make them feel valued, validate ideas, and create policies that serve your employees.

In Orissa, one of the poorest regions of India, most households use traditional stoves for cooking. Due to poor ventilation, women and children who spend much of their time at home are continuously exposed to harmful chemicals from burning. 

However, an innovation program that aimed to introduce safer cooking stoves in Orissa failed to account for the local cultural landscape. The new stoves needed frequent maintenance and repair, which men are responsible for. And as men were busy in the fields, women went back to cooking on the old stoves.

The same can happen in your company when you create policies in isolation from those affected by the same policies. 

To improve employee satisfaction, involve your workforce in decision-making by:

  • Holding brainstorming sessions where team members can discuss ideas.
  • Establishing open communication channels so employees can share feedback and ideas – it can be a Slack channel, digital platform, or suggestion box.
  • Creating feedback loops to inform employees about the outcomes of decisions and how their input has influenced the process.
  • Empowering employees by delegating tasks and responsibilities gives them more freedom to make decisions. 

What is an example of a satisfied employee?

Satisfied employees: 

  • Have a positive work attitude and are rarely absent from the workplace.
  • Demonstrate high employee engagement, productivity, and a willingness to take up new or challenging tasks.
  • Foster relationships with their colleagues.
  • Have a purpose bigger than working for a paycheck.