Organizational Wellness

How to Boost Employee Satisfaction

Aug 4, 2023
Last Updated Aug 4, 2023

If you’ve heard the term “employee satisfaction” recently, you’ve probably been attending HR meetings. In fact, you may have heard the term so many times that it has lost all meaning. And we get it — we all know that happy employees make better employees, but fostering happiness can feel like a daunting task in a world of deadlines and bottom lines. 

So how exactly does happiness happen in the workplace for employees? And how can you improve things if your employees are not happy? Let’s explore the (no-so) secret sauce for employee satisfaction.

What Is Employee Satisfaction?

In a nutshell, the term “employee satisfaction” refers to how much a company’s employees actually like their job. Specifically, it is an indication that employees’ basic needs are being met by their current employer — needs like being paid a livable wage, having a safe working environment, and being equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to do their job.

While these basics can seem like exactly that —- basics —- it can be surprisingly easy for employers to overlook fundamental aspects of their employees’ needs. And if these needs are not met, employee satisfaction dwindles.

High levels of employee satisfaction mean that your employees are more likely to perform to expectations and less likely to look for a job somewhere else. If you want to slow turnover and foster a positive work environment, furthering employee satisfaction is an absolute must.

What’s the Difference Between Satisfaction and Engagement?

Employees that are more satisfied with their jobs are more likely to perform better and produce more. If you want to enjoy these business outcomes, however, it is important to avoid confusing “employee satisfaction” with “employee engagement.” The two ideas are related, but employee satisfaction does not necessarily predict high performance the way employee engagement does.

This is because employee engagement indicates an employee’s passion for and interest in the actual work they do. Employees that are engaged are the ones truly motivated to excel. And satisfaction and engagement do not always go hand in hand. In fact, in the United States, recent surveys have only 20% of employees reporting that they are “enthusiastic” about their jobs.

It’s possible to have employees that are satisfied but not engaged, or that are engaged, but not satisfied. The former might become, as BambooHR puts it, “a complacent team made up of materially satisfied employees” who only do the bare minimum to stay in their positions, while the latter might be “highly engaged employees who are performing well,” but who are looking for a new and better job elsewhere. 

In summary, if you want to retain that dream team of skilled professionals who consistently produce quality work, your company must both ensure employee satisfaction and promote employee engagement.

If this seems like a tall order, don’t fret. Many business practices that promote employee engagement can also drive up satisfaction, as well as vice versa.

How Can You Improve Employee Satisfaction (and Increase Engagement)?

As previously mentioned, employee satisfaction is an indication that employees’ basic needs are being met. Ergo, if you want to improve employee satisfaction, you should take steps to meet your employees’ most essential needs. 

Many employees search for jobs based on these needs in the first place, so they are relatively easy to identify. According to our very own Work-Life Wellness report, the supports that employees rank as most important include:

  • An adequate salary
  • Wellbeing benefits
  • Opportunities for career progression
  • Flexible working practices
  • Adequate vacation days
  • A good work-life balance
  • Pension contribution
  • Opportunities for further training

To improve overall employee satisfaction, consider assessing how well you are performing in these areas. Identify where there are needs gaps, and how they could be best addressed. You can do this with a few simple strategies that may include surveys, one-on-one meetings, or targeted performance reviews.

Once you’ve identified and are working to meet your employees’ basic needs, you can focus on engagement. Think of it like Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs —- an employee needs to have their basic needs satisfied before they can excel at their job and self-actualize. A caterpillar must have adequate nourishment before it can turn into a beautiful, creative, motivated butterfly.

To help your employees come out of their cocoons, you must take purposeful steps to engage and involve them. As Gallup suggests, “organizations have more success with engagement and improve business performance when they treat employees as stakeholders of their own future and the company’s future.”

If you want to foster this mindset, some strategies to promote may include:

  • Clearly defining the goals and objectives of your organization. Consistent communication, a good onboarding process, and clear expectations can all help your employees catch your vision and be prepared and inspired in their work.
  • Giving and receiving useful feedback. Clear guidelines and honest evaluation can enable employees to improve their performance and feel invested in the work they produce.
  • Giving rewards and recognitionfor work well done. Nearly 70% of employees say they would put more effort into their work if those efforts were recognized, so go out of your way to celebrate your employees’ successes and accomplishments.
  • Giving employees opportunities to develop new skills. According to Forbes, “growth brings gratification.” Helping employees map out their careers, acquire formal skills, and take advantage of opportunities for informal learning can all go a long way in helping them feel excited about being a part of your organization.
  • Focusing on employees’ overall wellbeing. Only 1 out of 4 employees believe that their company cares about their wellbeing. Investing in the right wellness initiatives can prove to your employees that their physical, emotional, and mental health matters to you. 

As you make an effort to invest in your employees as people, you’ll find that they will become happier, healthier, and more capable contributors to your business: Gallup reports that companies with highly engaged employees see a 23% increase in profits. In short, high levels of employee satisfaction and engagement take effort, but the results are worth it.

How Can You Get Started?

If you are ready to improve employee satisfaction and engagement at your workplace, Wellhub is ready to help. We will provide you with more information and resources on how to create a wellness program that will help your employees stay healthy and let them know that you care.

Contact Wellhub today to get in touch with a well-being specialist. We believe that happy employees truly do make better employees and are excited to help your company demonstrate its dedication to wellness.

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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