If you lead a business of any kind, it’s essential to understand the factors that influence employee satisfaction in your organization. This kind of insight starts with awareness of needs, wants and desires of people across your workforce. Especially now, when employers are struggling to find strong talent, knowing what motivates your staff can play a central role in attracting and retaining top performers.
That’s what prompted the Agency Management Institute to take a closer look at employee satisfaction issues in the marketing and advertising realm. Although this research focuses on professional services firms, it can be useful for leaders in other industries to consider, as well.
For example, with 72% of agency leaders saying they want to empower their staff, there’s no more powerful place to start than by learning what interests, inspires, and energizes team members. By leveraging these insights, you can improve internal communication, build individually tailored development opportunities, improve overall team performance, and more.
3 Key Profiles Behind Employee Satisfaction
When employees feel connected, engaged and satisfied with their work, their organizational culture is likely to be built on knowledge of who they are as individuals. When looking at various attitudes and characteristics associated with employee satisfaction, three types of personality profiles emerge:
- Enthusiastic 27%
- Self-reliant 45%
- At-risk 29%
In other words, an employee’s primary profile is highly likely to indicate their level of commitment, work performance and overall workplace satisfaction.
Employee Satisfaction Types Up Close
Each employee segment brings unique characteristics to the table. But responding effectively to these diverse needs requires keen leadership and a strong work culture. So, what makes each group tick? These snapshot descriptions offer helpful guidance:
1. “Enthusiastic” Segment
Only 27% of survey respondents are considered “enthusiastic.” These people tend to give their employers high marks for professional development, career opportunities, work culture, and even compensation. More importantly, they feel that a long tenure with their company is the best way to build a career. They’re loyal, excited, and engaged. In short, any company would consider these individuals dream employees.
Historically, the enthusiastic group is the smallest segment. Naturally, employers want to know if and how they can attract and develop more of these valued employees. The answer lies in recognizing issues that matter to employees in the other two categories.
2. “Self-Reliant” Segment
Representing 45% of respondents, “self-reliant” employees are by far the largest group. Although these employees tend to think of themselves as responsible for achieving their own success, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Generally, self-reliant employees believe leaders don’t acknowledge or appreciate their struggles or contributions. In fact, many in this group feel “invisible.” And their discontent extends beyond a lack of recognition. They’re also skeptical about whether employers know how to develop their skills, provide opportunities for advancement, or improve their financial position over time.
Interestingly, 63% of these employees are millennials who tend to work for larger organizations. It’s also worth noting that women are heavily represented in this segment, and they tend to feel their opinions and ideas are heard less often than their male peers.
Although these issues are more of a concern for at-risk employees, high stress, difficult clients, and unrealistic expectations about working outside of conventional hours contribute to employee dissatisfaction in this segment. The same can be said for scope creep, job insecurity, and turnover. For all of these reasons, 22% of “self-reliant” employees have thought about leaving their job for greener pastures.
3. “At Risk” Segment
29% of employees are classified as “at risk.” They tend to work for smaller organizations and rely on their employers to engage with them and support them. They’re also much more likely to be women. In fact, 66% of at-risk workers are women.
It should seem obvious, but “at risk” employees are most likely to resign. In fact, research indicates that 50% of people in this segment have thought about seeking other employment. These individuals are looking for more, whether it’s with their current employer or elsewhere.
What’s driving this restlessness? Typically, at-risk workers are looking for a better (or different) workplace culture. Perhaps their current workplace doesn’t suit them, or company policies don’t align with their principles. These people want their employer to care about their wellbeing, align with their values, and provide more opportunities for collaboration and growth.
“At-risk” employees also crave more collaboration. They care deeply about their work. They’re often at the center of an organization’s activities, because they desire opportunities to collaborate with peers in meaningful ways. However, they’re less satisfied with their career trajectory, compensation, and path for advancement than others.
But these people aren’t operating in the shadows. In fact, they’re often spearheading key roles, including strategy, leadership, project management, and account management. Because these employees are central to an organization’s success, losing them could cause major setbacks and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
3 Steps to Strengthen Employee Satisfaction
With all the responsibilities that come with running a business, it’s easy to forget that employment is a two-way street. Here are a few considerations to help you improve engagement and satisfaction among your team members:
1. Encourage people to invest in their own development
Professional development must be a shared responsibility between company leadership and staff. Individuals can’t develop themselves entirely on their own. They need your active guidance, support, and resources to develop themselves. Giving people an active role in mapping their growth plans and decisions about where to invest their time and energy can make a measurable impact on their commitment and satisfaction.
2. Take time to craft a personalized development plan
Because you’re working with individuals, it’s important to recognize that professional development isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Every employee deserves a growth plan that’s personalized for their unique goals, interests, and aspirations. Without a plan they can “own,” no amount of time or money will improve their engagement, performance, satisfaction, or retention. What’s more, employees who don’t see any promise of growth won’t be employees for very long. Your commitment to their future success can make all the difference.
3. Find ways to push autonomous workers to new heights
Don’t forget to give “self-reliant” employees their share of attention. While they may not speak up often with complaints, “self-reliant” employees can be a tricky bunch to manage and develop. These folks often need a side hustle to feel engaged, creatively. If they’re asked to do additional work or contribute to a new project, they may engage less with their primary work. To better support these employees, consider pairing them with mentors. This way, they always have access to someone who can help them stick to their agenda while moving forward on their career path.
A Final Note
Building workplace satisfaction is as much about striking a balance as it is about understanding what makes people tick. Investing in your workforce’s professional growth and creating a supportive environment are both key. In fact, if you read between the lines of this survey, it’s clear that employees often believe these actions are worth more than money.