A reporter recently asked if I had a “quiz” to determine whether or not you had a happy workplace. I told her I don’t think you can really determine such a complex question with a quiz, but that our survey research did give some starting points. Here are 3 places to start:
1. Satisfaction usually boils down to your relationship with your immediate supervisor. This is what I call the “don’t be a jerk” factor. People don’t leave companies or jobs, they leave crappy managers. In our survey research you can almost always predict overall satisfaction by looking at statements like, “My supervisor listens to my ideas and suggestions when I make them” and “I am able to talk openly and honestly with my supervisor about my work.”
2. Do you defend your company if somebody is trashing it? That’s another great measure of engagement. We call those employees “net promoters” and you can find them by asking statements like “If I had to do it all over again I would still go to work here” or “When I tell others about where I work my comments are positive.”
3. The importance of pay and benefits is wildly overrated. Many of our consultants are former union organizers. Union organizers know what many managers don’t: although it’s easy to get someone worked up about pay, it is almost never the issue. The issues that cause real problems are things like lack of respect and unfair treatment. Pay and benefits can cause dissatisfaction if they are very low, but I’ve seen many surveys where these statements rate low but employees are still satisfied because their company treats them well in other areas.
While I don’t think a short quiz is a realistic way to measure workplace happiness, you can definitely learn a lot by doing a more comprehensive satisfaction survey process.
Phillip Wilson is a union free and positive employee relations expert and is President of Labor Relations Institute. He is the author of 12 books on a variety of employee and labor relations topics, is a highly sought after speaker, and has been asked to testify twice in Congress.
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