The key to boosting profits and increasing employee retention rates may be to make your workforce happier.
Employee satisfaction is one of the most critical factors affecting your business’ performance: According to the Happiness at Work Survey, happy employees average 10% less absenteeism, 10% less turnover, and 5% more productivity than their less satisfied colleagues.
Findings published in Personnel Psychology even showed that data on employee satisfaction, behavior, and turnover could predict a company’s profitability in the following year.
Yet despite the abundance of evidence linking employee happiness with business outcomes, many companies neglect to prioritize it. Even worse, they lose out on a huge opportunity to measure and improve satisfaction through existing initiatives – namely, employee education and training.
Satisfaction through Engagement
One of many reasons employee happiness is significant is its direct impact on customer behavior. Research has shown that 40% to 80% of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty is determined by the customer-employee relationship.
On a case-by-case basis, the impact drives growth: Sears found that a 5% increase in employee satisfaction incurred a 1.3% in customer satisfaction, resulting in a 0.5% increase in revenue.
Experts point to engagement as one of the strongest drivers of employee satisfaction. “The only way to have consistently really high levels of customer loyalty is to have a workforce that is so enthusiastic, creative, and energetic that you outperform competitors in service delivery, execution, and product design,” says Rob Markey, head of Bain & Company’s Global Customer Strategy and Marketing Practice and co-author of The Ultimate Question 2.0.
Research backs up Markey’s argument. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace study, the 30 million engaged employees in the United States come up with most of the innovative ideas, create most of a company’s new customers, and have the most entrepreneurial energy when compared to the roughly 70 million unengaged workers.
Yet fostering greater engagement is a far underutilized business tactic by even the smartest business leaders. Just 24% of 568 respondents to a Harvard Business Review survey – all C-level executives at companies of 500 employees or more – said that they considered most of their employees highly engaged.
What’s missing? Markey boils the characteristics of satisfied employees down to three main factors. Generally, they 1) have a physically and emotionally safe work environment; 2) are being valued and compensated fairly; and 3) – most importantly – are given good training.
Engagement through Training
Companies can boost employee engagement (and with it, employee and customer satisfaction) by expanding and improving their internal training content. It’s not simply about providing employees with the knowledge necessary to do their jobs – it’s also about motivating them to do their jobs well.
Incorporate content about your company culture to help employees feel connected to your mission and vision. Explain the “bigger picture” of the business to help staff avoid feeling they work in a vacuum (a problem that can especially plague remote workers, if you have them). Make your training content more compelling by incorporating videos and other multimedia. Use an up-to-date learning platform with interactivity features like discussion boards and Q&A tools.
Armed with more engaging training materials, leverage training as an opportunity to measure satisfaction. Embed surveys into your content to gauge not only the user’s experience with the learning content and platform, but their experience with your company. Request feedback and make it clear in how employees can – and should – reach out to you to provide additional information on an ongoing basis.
Just like training, measuring and improving employee satisfaction is a long-term commitment – not a short-term initiative. Commit to both initiatives the same way you hope your employees commit to you.