Employers want to hire the best employees, and employees want to work for the best companies. But in many companies, there remains a disconnect between what employees are looking for and what employers are offering. In particular, many employers believe the way to both attract and retain talent is to provide more money, better benefits, or other perks. However, while compensation is a factor in employee job satisfaction, it is certainly not the only factor, nor is it even the most important factor. It goes without saying that what will satisfy one employee may not satisfy another employee. However, while there is no formula for an ideal work environment, there are several job characteristics that employers would be wise to consider.
Flexibility & Autonomy
Flexibility is a hot topic in this day and age, and many employees strongly desire to choose the hours they work, within an acceptable range. Along with flexibility, employees want the ability to work remotely. Not all jobs can offer flexible hours and remote capabilities, but many accounting-related jobs can permit this without disrupting the flow of business.
Moreover, autonomy is allowing people to be self-directed. The longer an employee is with a company, the more likely they are to be autonomous, as they gain experience and merit additional trust. If employees are trusted and experienced, employers should allow them to make as many of their own choices as possible. This could include:
- setting their schedule
- choosing what tasks they work on and when
- selecting how they approach their projects
Flexibility, coupled with autonomy, is the holy grail of job satisfaction because this combination leads to a sense of control over work, which correlates to increased work-life balance.
We mentioned trust up above, specifically regarding employees earning trust. But the reverse scenario is also a key to job satisfaction: how much do employees trust their supervisors? Lack of trust cripples a business. It leads to turnover, back-stabbing, gossip, disengagement, low morale, and decreased output – to name a few. Can your employees trust you? Have you given them any reason not to? Avoiding a scandal isn't good enough; employees need to know that they can trust management. People demonstrate trust when they:
- keep their word,
- display integrity in all of their dealings (both personally and professionally),
- are open to feedback
Be a trustworthy employer. Be a trustworthy employee.
Advancement and Disengagement
Is there an opportunity for advancement? And is the pathway laid out so that employees can see the potential opportunities and also see how they are moving forward? If employees don't sense there is anywhere to go, it can easily lead to dissatisfaction, disengagement, and ultimately to them looking for a place that does offer a move up the ladder.
Disengagement is another buzz word in the job market these days and manifests as people withdrawing and no longer being fully present in their jobs.
On the opposite end is engagement, in which employees go the extra mile, figure out solutions, problem-solve, want to see the company succeed (not just themselves), and perceive how they're contributing to the organization's goals. Engaged employees are not only happier, but they produce a significant amount more, are invaluable in training others, and come up with creative ideas to keep a company competitive.
These job characteristics aren't a comprehensive list, and there are numerous other components of job satisfaction, including feeling respected and praised, transparency in the organization, and even having good relationships with co-workers. Also, while we said compensation is not enough, we do want to note that compensation does matter. People need to feel they are paid what they are worth, so try to communicate value through compensation as well.
People want to feel a sense of purpose in their work, feel valued, and enjoy their time there.
Every job is different, so implementing these ideas will vary and look different business-to-business. But if you are an employer, please take a moment to evaluate how you are doing. It may even help to allow your employees to report their satisfaction or lack thereof anonymously, so you know where you stand as an employer.