What is employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction: tips for measuring and increasing

Since the shortage of skilled workers has become more and more obvious due to demographic change, the Employee satisfaction of increasing importance. The basic idea behind it: Satisfied employees are more involved in the company and think less about changing jobs. Both are success factors for companies, otherwise they have to constantly train new employees without being able to benefit from their investments later. It is therefore important for companies to measure the current status from time to time with the instrument of the employee satisfaction analysis. How companies can proceed and how employee satisfaction can be increased ...

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Employee satisfaction definition: what does that mean?

The employee satisfaction (English = job satisfaction) describes the attitude of an employee to his work environment.

There is a internal comparison between what a person expects from their work environment and what they actually find there. Agnes Bruggemann speaks of a target / actual comparison here. The term employee satisfaction is mainly used in business administration.

Work and organizational psychology uses the term job satisfaction synonymously with employee satisfaction. The measurements from the employee satisfaction analysis are used to assess how the employees and managers are emotionally set to the company are.

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Employee satisfaction: models and theories

Numerous well-known scientists have grappled with the question of what the Job satisfaction means in what it expresses itself. In its study on employee satisfaction (PDF) 2002, the Hans Böckler Foundation came to the conclusion that there is no uniform definition of the term 'employee satisfaction' give.

Three important theories and models that are to be presented here are decisive for research. We start with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, shown in the following graphic:

Central statement from Abraham Maslow: A person is satisfied when the needs of the respective level are satisfied. As soon as this has happened, a person orients himself to the next higher level. The deficit needs are identical for almost every person, at best they are Weighting varies.

As long as they are not breastfed, there is little need for growth needs such as Recognition and Self-Realization. The other way around: If you don't have to worry about bare survival, you can relax and think about other thoughts and consider what work inspires you.

Applied to employee satisfaction, one could formulate: the more satisfied the employee, the greater his or her motivation. Correspondingly high or low falls his commitment out. In relation to work behavior, the hierarchy of needs is as follows:

The so-called Two factor theory by the American work psychologist Frederick Herzberg. He differentiates between two types of influencing factors, the hygiene factors and the motivational factors. They contribute differently to the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the employee:

  • Hygiene factors

    The hygiene factors (also dissatisfiers or called dissatisfaction factors) include areas such as ...

    • working conditions
    • Leadership
    • Personal relationships
    • security
    • Corporate policy
    • compensation

    you will be often taken for granted. They therefore do not necessarily contribute to satisfaction, but very likely to dissatisfaction if they are not present to the extent that is felt to be fair. Example: A low salary will have a negative impact on employee satisfaction, but a high salary does not automatically mean great satisfaction.

  • Motivational factors

    The motivational factors (also satisfiers, Called motivators or satisfaction factors), according to Herzberg, refer to the following areas:

    • recognition
    • Work assignments
    • Promotion opportunities
    • Performance success
    • Self-determination
    • Assumption of responsibility

    According to Herzberg's two-factor theory, motivators can be used to compensate for deficient hygiene factors to a certain extent.

The Bruggemann model developed by industrial psychologist Agnes Bruggemann and named after her makes a difference six forms of employee or job satisfaction. Depending on how an employee's target / actual comparison turns out and how he deals with it, his or her individual satisfaction or dissatisfaction is measured:

  • Progressive job satisfaction means that the target / actual comparison is positive and that the expectations increase as a result.
  • Stabilized job satisfaction This means that the target / actual comparison is also positive, but the level of aspiration remains unchanged.
  • Resigned job satisfaction is given when the target / actual comparison is negative. In order to achieve a balance, the level of aspiration is lowered.
  • Pseudo job satisfaction occurs when the target / actual comparison turns out negative. The level of aspiration remains unchanged, but the employee sees the situation as clearly embellished.
  • Fixed job dissatisfaction describes a situation in which the target / actual comparison is negative and the level of aspiration remains unchanged. The dissatisfaction thus increases.
  • Constructive job dissatisfaction shows a responsible employee: The target / actual comparison is negative and the level of aspiration remains unchanged. However, the employee recognizes the discrepancy and works actively to improve the situation - for example by changing jobs or further training.

Employee satisfaction analysis: how is it measured?

There are several methods of measuring employee satisfaction:

  • Direct measurement

    A targeted analysis is possible using instruments such as employee surveys or 360-degree feedback. The point here is to find out how much expectation and reality differ in the perception of employees. In a further step, requests and suggestions for improvement can be asked. Such surveys must be done anonymously if companies are interested in honest answers. If employees have to fear sanctions, this will lead to the desired answers, but you will not receive any clues for errors in company management or suggestions for improvement.

  • Indirect measurement

    Instead of approaching the employees directly and questioning them, the behavior of the employees can of course be observed over a certain period of time. The following aspects play a role here:

    Depending on how differentiated and self-critical a company conducts the analysis of employee satisfaction or also depending on whether, for example, an external company is commissioned to do this, further factors are included in the study:

In order to be able to derive employee satisfaction from the indirect measurements, the Continuous data collection respectively. In addition, caution is advised when interpreting: What is the significance of the results obtained, for example if you are comparing within your own industry?

In the end, maybe generally indicate dissatisfaction from the results - but in relation to which company area? The leadership style? Equipment? If you concentrate solely on these aspects, you are more dependent on guesswork than on concrete clues.

We therefore recommend a Combination of both methods.

Tips for more employee satisfaction

Both Maslow's hierarchy of needs and Herzberg's two-factor theory have one thing in common: They show quite well what factors in employee satisfaction play a role. The weighting may vary from person to person, but certain things can be deduced from both past experience and common sense:

No employee will be particularly happy if they are not faced with any challenges, but the salary is measly. Conversely: The best payment might be a short-term (because extrinsic) motivation kick be. But if the working hours regularly increase to a 60-hour week as a result of overtime, then many employees will sooner or later throw in the towel.

Factors like self-determination, good social Relationships with colleagues as well as the supervisor play a role as well as fair remuneration. Therefore, here are the most important tips:

  • Listen to.

    In relation to the employee satisfaction analysis: The best surveys are of no use if the results are not taken seriously. In some cases, employees may not have a big picture. To do this, if in doubt, they sit at the grassroots level and have to pay for any decisions that were made over their heads. If there are complaints, these should be investigated. Regardless of this, managers should sit down with their employees from time to time and ask them how they are. An open ear for everyday worries and needs signals interest in the person and promotes trust.

  • Show appreciation.

    It starts with the fact that employees should occasionally hear a word of praise: If something went well, it can be safely mentioned. The next level is recognition, which is also expressed in different ways. This also means that employees who are lower in the hierarchy are of course treated and greeted with respect. Here, recognition means above all a basic attitude towards other people. With fair remuneration, you also express a form of recognition and appreciation: This employee is worth it to you, you value the person and their work and would like it to stay that way in the future.

  • Promote a good working atmosphere.

    Several factors are relevant for this. On the one hand, there must not be a lack of the necessary equipment. On the other hand, the handling of mistakes has a massive effect on the relationship with colleagues and employees: Does the manager take responsibility for their own mistakes and deal with them openly or is the blame put on the weaker team member? Are you looking for solutions or guilty parties? The right approach makes it easier for employees to confess future mistakes and not try to cover up any mishaps for fear of the consequences so that they can get worse.

  • Empower your employees.

    Those who expand the scope for action and decision-making of employees help to increase their self-esteem. This, in turn, is an important aspect of employee satisfaction: Those who have increased confidence in themselves will dedicate themselves to their tasks with increased motivation and, for example, propose solutions more confidently. At the same time, challenging activities satisfy the need for self-realization.

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