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People Management

5 Sure-fire Ways Managers Can Improve Employee Satisfaction With The Feedback Process

July 25, 2022
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11 minutes

Employee satisfaction brings huge business benefits. Here’s why it matters for your business and five ways managers can improve employee satisfaction. 5 Sure-fire Ways Managers Can Improve Employee Satisfaction With The Feedback Process Whether you

Lawrence Barker
Employee satisfaction brings huge business benefits. Here’s why it matters for your business and five ways managers can improve employee satisfaction. 5 Sure-fire Ways Managers Can Improve Employee Satisfaction With The Feedback Process Whether you

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Whether you call it “The Great Resignation” or something else, it’s hard to argue that employees aren’t satisfied when they’re abandoning ship left and right. For people leaders, one thing is abundantly clear: employee satisfaction matters now more than ever.

This raises an important question: how can managers improve employee satisfaction? 

Why does employee satisfaction matter?


Employee satisfaction matters because it impacts many different areas of your business. In a sense, employee satisfaction functions as an early warning indicator. If your employee satisfaction drops and you’re paying attention, you can quickly intervene to restore satisfaction and prevent larger issues down the road. 

Employee satisfaction is a measurement of whether your employees’ expectations about their roles are being met. Together with employee engagement, employee satisfaction is a key piece of fostering a productive, happy, loyal workforce. 

Finding ways to keep employee satisfaction brings a multitude of benefits to your business. 

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Lower turnover rate


Your employees are more likely to stick around if they’re satisfied with their work. Gallup’s research noted significantly lower turnover at organizations with satisfied and engaged employees—24% less turnover in high-turnover organizations and a whopping 59% less turnover in low-turnover organizations. 

Less turnover means less time and money spent on recruiting and training. It also means less organizational knowledge lost, which makes for more productive employees. 

Improved employee happiness and morale


When employees are satisfied, they want to come to work. Study after study shows that happy employees are more productive, care more about their work, and contribute more to the business: 

  • A Hay Group study shows that highly engaged employees are 50% more likely to outperform their individual performance targets.

Improved customer satisfaction


Satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers. Glassdoor’s research found that employees who rated their company more highly had higher customer satisfaction rates and stock market valuations. 

When you take care of your employees, they take care of your customers. 

Increased productivity


Reducing employee turnover brings productivity benefits, but the positive impact of employee satisfaction goes beyond that. Employees that report positive experiences at work—which implies satisfaction—are far more likely to report significantly higher levels of discretionary effort. 

That means satisfied employees are more likely to go “above and beyond” to help your organization succeed. 

How to improve employee satisfaction?


There’s a clear business case to improve employee satisfaction. It’s good for business, but it’s also the right thing to do for your employees. Here are five sure-fire ways managers can improve employee satisfaction:

  • Build a psychologically safe work environment
  • Have regular check-ins
  • Hone in on empathetic leadership
  • Ask for feedback regularly
  • Provide clear professional career development

Build a psychologically safe work environment


The Center for Creative Leadership defines psychological safety as “the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.” A psychologically safe workplace is a place where you won’t be punished for being vulnerable, making a mistake, or pushing back on something.

This doesn’t happen by accident. Creating a psychologically safe work environment requires actively fostering trust and vulnerability. There are two big ways that every manager can encourage this kind of culture:

  • Show vulnerability yourself. Lead by example. If you want your team to show vulnerability, it starts with you. Let your team see you speaking up on their behalf. Open up to your team about challenges or mistakes you’ve made. Show them that these behaviors aren’t taboo—they’re welcomed.

  • Be consistent. Employees talk. If you come down hard on an employee when they make a mistake, your whole team (and beyond) will know in short order. As a leader, when employees open up, you need to respond with support and empathy, not consequences or retribution. This is true for small mistakes, but it’s also true when an engineer pushes a release with a critical bug. It’s true when a customer success manager drops the ball and your biggest customer churns. Empathetic responses in the face of awful mistakes is the real proof that it’s safe to be vulnerable. 

Have regular check-ins


Every employee wants a caring manager. Holding regular check-ins is a simple way that you can show you care for your team. Recurring one-on-one meetings with your team are especially  critical for managers operating in remote settings.

Having check-ins with your team isn’t rocket science. Check in with your team on a regular basis to see how they’re doing. Keep track of how they’ve been feeling, new developments in their lives, and how they’re doing at work. Ask open-ended questions to get honest feedback from them. 

Doing check-ins regularly helps you understand your employees’ expectations about their jobs, which helps you find ways to improve their satisfaction.

Source

Kona was built specifically to help facilitate check-ins for remote teams. 

Every morning, Kona asks your team a question in your chosen Slack channels: “How are you feeling?” Each person answers with a colored heart emoji and provides some context. This small yet regular practice fosters openness, vulnerability, and empathy across your team.

It’s not magic, but it feels like it. 

Hone in on empathetic leadership


Brené Brown
, author of Daring Greatly (and many other great books), says that empathy is “simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’” 

These five ways to improve employee satisfaction are all interconnected. 

Empathetic leaders create psychologically safe workplaces because they care for their employees. They hold regular check-ins as a way to invest in their employees’ wellbeing. They help their employees feel understood and supported through life’s many challenges.

Practice empathetic leadership through habits like.

Watching for burnout. Employee burnout is an epidemic. When you’re feeling burnt out, you’re less effective, you’re exhausted, and you’re cynical about your work.

  • Empathetic leaders keep a close eye out for early signs of burnout and intervene with help before true burnout sets in.
  • Caring about your employees as human beings. Your team members aren’t resources to be used up. They’re humans to be cared for.
    Empathetic leaders take an interest in their employees as whole humans, not just line items on a spreadsheet. This shows up in the conversations you have, the benefits you offer, and the overall employee experience you create.
  • Knowing your limits. Caring about your people is a good thing, but odds are you aren’t a licensed therapist. Empathetic leaders know when to pull in other resources to help employees who are struggling—whether that’s your People Ops team or connecting your employee with external resources like counselors or mental health experts.

Ask for feedback regularly 

Even the best managers need to continually learn and adjust how they lead their people. 

Don’t just take it for granted that your leadership style and habits are what your team needs. Asking your employees for feedback—on your leadership, your team, and your processes— regularly is a great way to improve employee satisfaction and engagement.

Here are some specific questions you can start with:.

  • What do you need from me right now?
  • What feedback do you have for me?
  • How can I help you get to where you need to go?
  • How can we make this process better?
  • What would make your job easier?
  • Why do you think we’re doing things the way we are?
  • What would be the first thing you’d change if you were in my seat?

Notice that none of the above questions are yes/no questions. Open-ended questions like these encourage deeper thought and discussion than simple yes/no questions.

Provide clear professional career development


You don’t want to feel stagnant in your career. Neither do your employees.

Employees are more satisfied when they have a clear path they can follow to develop new skills and grow their careers. This means that a key way to improve employee satisfaction is to create a robust learning and development plan for your team. 

Career growth doesn’t always mean a new title or salary increase. Even if you have a limited budget, it’s possible to give employees new tasks, responsibilities, and learning opportunities within their existing roles. Any task that aligns with your employees’ interest and encourages them to grow is a good candidate for delegation. 

Other ways to foster career development include offering a learning stipend or building learning time into your team’s weekly schedule. You could also design an internal mentorship program that employees can join to receive advice, encouragement, and support from talented leaders across your organization. 

Proactive managers lead to employee satisfaction


Every manager’s job is to empower and enable their teams to be as productive as possible. If your employees aren’t satisfied, you’ll find it’s significantly harder to achieve goals and retain team members.

The best way managers can improve employee satisfaction is by being proactive and intentional every day. 

Tools like Kona can help you understand how your team is feeling and where you need to provide support and encouragement. If you’re ready to start being a more proactive manager, take your first step right now by adding Kona to Slack for free.

Meet the Author

Lawrence Barker

Lawrence uses his decade of customer experience leadership to create content for B2B SaaS companies that love their customers. He writes on a broad range of topics, all with the aim of helping human-centered companies attract the right customers and empower them to be successful.

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