The Secret to Employee Satisfaction in the Long Term

In an employment landscape marked by significant concerns over retention, it’s no wonder that so many companies are looking for answers to keep employees more satisfied, engaged, and productive in their jobs. When seeking these solutions, it’s important to understand where employees are coming from. Today’s employees are searching for a sense of meaning and accomplishment in their work. In particular, they’re looking to work for companies where they can feel like their contributions are recognized and appreciated by their managers and other leaders.

Unfortunately, many workers don’t feel that way in their current roles. According to research from career services firm Zety, 79% of employees say they feel like their managers take them for granted. Additionally. 32% say they “rarely or never” receive praise from their managers, and 25% rarely or never receive praise from colleagues.

Recognition doesn’t have to be formal to be powerful; there are tons of ways to call out great work that range from the casual to the attention-grabbing. For instance, Slack and other similar systems have built-in “compliment” or recognition mechanisms, which allow individuals to directly and publicly praise a job well done. Appreciation and shout-outs might also be found in newsletters, company news feeds, in-office displays, and more, as well as more “gift”-oriented recognition programs.

The key to all of these is a sense of genuine and personal appreciation, not just formulaic or generic praise. And while compliments – or even corporate gifts – are great, they’re not the only thing employees want. Zety reports that 65% of respondents said they would prefer to receive regular feedback, including improvement areas, even more than praise. This is in line with another significant trend when it comes to the employee experience: a growing desire for upskilling and career development. In the franchise world, for instance, front-line employees might be interested in promotions into leadership or management roles, or even moving into corporate roles at the parent company. Some might even find themselves intrigued by the idea of becoming a franchisee themselves. Without the right support and skills development, however, those valuable employees might leave the franchise family altogether.

One study found that 49 percent of employees want to develop their skills but don’t know where to begin. Another study found that only 50% of employees believe that their managers tailor feedback based on the roles they (the employees) want to move into, and 45% of employees who leave their roles do so for professional development opportunities. Today’s employees aren’t just thinking about their daily jobs – they’re thinking about their futures, and they want their leaders to be thinking about that too, or, if they won’t, they’ll gladly look for teams and companies that will.

That’s why employees want more than simple praise or recognition. In a way, recognition and feedback are two sides of the same coin, both critical to an overall positive employee experience and employee value proposition. Along with boosting retention, recognition can make a big difference in productivity: one study found that increasing recognition from quarterly to monthly can improve engagement and productivity by 40%. Similarly, efforts targeted at career development often boost engagement, loyalty, and other key metrics.

Across industries and levels, most employees want the same thing at heart: a fulfilling job where they feel truly appreciated, where their contributions clearly matter, and where they feel like they can have a robust and fruitful future. Dedicating time and energy to building that culture should be at the top of the list for any company, especially one focused on retention and growth in a relatively competitive talent marketplace. When employees are fulfilled and living up to their potential, we all succeed.

By Bri Salm

Vice President of Client Services, Priority Promotions

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