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Written by B2B International   
13 Aug 2008


Measuring and developing job satisfaction – are staff engaged or happily complacent?

One in five employees has had sex in the workplace, one in three has taken Class A drugs at work, and one in six admit to 'constantly' surfing the web on matters totally unrelated to work, according to David Bolchover's book “The Living Dead”.

A new White Paper by B2B International explores employee satisfaction at work and looks at approaches to measuring and addressing the issues raised.

B2B International director, Carol-Ann Morgan, has written ‘Understanding and Developing Your (People) Assets - a White Paper on Employee Satisfaction’. She believes that if staff feel valued and involved, customers have great experiences dealing with the service organisation, and then positive business results follow. She argues that a successful employer provides workers with a job that is not only inherently meaningful but also has a wider purpose that is closely allied to the organisation's wider goals. And you can measure this.

Carol-Ann suggests, “employee research is the starting point in understanding the needs and perceptions of the workforce. The findings can be used to develop the strategy for building a committed workforce who will contribute to the well-being and future security and success of the organisation.”

Few would argue that the most valuable resource of any organisation is its people. Staff well-being and their level of satisfaction has been found to directly impact on organisational performance and ultimately organisational success; dissatisfied staff are unlikely to foster a satisfied customer base, and dissatisfied customers directly impact on the bottom line.

Staff engagement
In recent years, research has shown that employers want employees who will do their best at work, even “go the extra mile”, and employees want good work, jobs that are worthwhile and “turn them on”. With this shift, there has been an increasing focus on staff satisfaction as a component of staff engagement.

Happy complacency theory
Research suggests that people who are very satisfied at work are not necessarily high performers, and with the constantly changing business environment, employees who are too happy and content feel less inclined to seek improvements, change, or do things differently. In today’s climate, this tends not to be a good position for any business; rather, a company needs staff who are energised, motivated and eager or willing to try something new.

Staff are seeking to find “meaning” at work. Fulfilment comes from the employee being valued and appreciated, having a sense of belonging to the organisation, and feeling as though they are making a contribution.

Measuring and developing staff satisfaction
Employee research is the first step in undertaking a programme to improve the working experience of staff and the user experience of customers. It gives employees a “voice” and enables areas of dissatisfaction to be identified.

Building an engaged workforce
Models of satisfaction and engagement at work indicate that it is made up of several factors, some being fundamental or contractual (the 'hygiene' factors), such as pay, benefits and health and safety; others requiring a greater cultural shift, where the organisation must 'go the extra mile' to ensure effective communication, management and cooperation of and with its employees. When an organisation moves to achieving these higher goals, the impact will be seen not only in the attitudes and behaviours of its staff but also in the satisfaction of its customers.

In an increasingly competitive world, the ability to find and keep good people will often be the deciding factor between organisational success and failure. What is clear from the literature is that current thinking extends beyond job satisfaction. Employers are seeking a workforce which is more than just good at the job they do; they are seeking employees who are engaged with their organisation/company, staff who “buy in” to the company mission and goals. It is also clear that no single factor is responsible for the satisfaction of the workforce, and different staff members will be motivated by different aspects of the company offering, and their own approaches to work.

The modern organisation sees its people as key assets to be developed and nurtured; the way in which they approach their work and their interactions with customers is critical to demonstrating the brand values of the company.

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