March 06.2018, 4.49pm

Love Your Workforce: 3 Ways to Increase Job Satisfaction and Employee Engagement

If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. It may sound like a cheesy line from a Hallmark card (and I won’t lie, it probably is!), but it is becoming an important objective for companies across the globe who are looking at ways to ramp up happiness to improve the bottom line.

Why is happiness so important? As the jobs market grows, particularly for sectors like IT, Digital roles and finance, recruiting the right people and keeping them happy has become a real concern for employers.

Job satisfaction was previously seen as a fortunate by-product of a successful business rather than the route to success. Now a happy workforce is a tangible asset that improves business results.

A growing body of research shows happy workers are more productive, in fact, up to  47% more so than their most miserable colleagues. They also stick around longer, cutting replacement costs, giving managers time to forge really effective teamwork.

But the big question is: how do you make your workers happy?


Engage – Don’t Enrage


The sought-after millennials, the rising stars in most companies, are a bit like a TV audience – hard to engage and quick to change channels, or companies.

Keeping millenials engaged isn’t easy but it can be done with help from the very things that makes their attention span so short –  their smart phones. With mobile-enabled systems, they can tap into their own HR files, to see how they’re doing, as well as carrying out routine tasks such as printing payslips and P60s.

This not only spares HR these repetitive tasks, it makes employees feel empowered.

Simple gamification – i.e. gameplay – is another HR tool becoming far more sophisticated and prevalent, partly thanks to the ubiquitous smartphone.

Gartner predicts most businesses will ‘get in the game’, if they haven’t already done so and that by 2020, this will be overturned by AI.Hotelier Marriott, for example, developed an online game similar to the Sims in which players run a virtual hotel kitchen – gamification and AI rates are only set to go up.


Flexible Feedback

With increasing regularity, and not just once a year, basic annual reviews themselves are being assessed – and found wanting. Place an employee in the middle third of a three-tier system and all many see is: “So you think a third of my colleagues are better than me?” This doesn’t make for happy staff.

Numerical assessments can trigger a black and white, fight or flight, response that gets people in defensive mode or running for cover.  Putting them in a numerical box, also makes some feel they belong there and there’s little they can do about it, making any challenging tasks seem an invitation to failure.

Staff need ongoing performance reviews to show that at least they are being noticed more than once a year. Smart companies use frequent and flexible feedback and more nuanced and incremental evaluations.

Another development is 360 reviews, where staff are reviewed by their colleagues. This can transform what was a one-way review into a broad (360 degree) view of the organisation.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about this and face-to-face critiques from colleagues. But some call it a game, or even a life changer.

Netflix, an increasingly influential HR thought-leader as its success (and Originals!) grows, is a very vocal exponent of 360 reviews, when done correctly.

It asks staff to simply identify things they thought colleagues should start, stop or continue doing. Initially, this was done anonymously through a software package, which became signed feedback and eventually evolved into a face-to-face 360 peer review.

“If you talk simply and honestly about performance on a regular basis, you can get good results – probably better ones than a company that grades everyone on a five point scale,” said Patty McCord, Netflix’s previous chief talent officer. If Netflix could get “ahead of the game” over a year ago, what are you doing in 2018? How are you ensuring career growth and development for your employees?


Set Out A Career Path

PwC recommends that performance evaluation should be based on the forward-looking development of people and their careers that will strengthen the company’s competitive position.

Like most employee engagement propositions, this is win-win; not only are you making your organisation a more attractive place to work, you’re nurturing the best people – those with ambition – to provide a production line of talent for the future.

PwC says talent is more important than ever, yet “talent practices remain siloed, cluttered and out of tune with the wider business.”

“To pave the way for a new business-driven approach, we must shatter these silos and reassemble a talent ecosystem designed to drive business advantage.”

It urges setting clear goals that people can work towards and be evaluated against.

It also calls for companies to “provide modern technology tools (and) create a digital talent experience that fuels engagement, achievement and progression.”

All these HR tools can be part of an integrated HR solution. Mobile-enabled, real-time rostering, for example, makes flexible leave an undisruptive reality.  A touch of a manager’s smartphone screen is all it usually takes to find a replacement cover.

HR software can also embrace metrics, social media, real-time analytics, and talent management and all the other modern HR goodies that help keep those determined and flighty millennials, amongst others, very happy.

If technology gives you the power to make someone smile, why not use it? The world (of work) certainly needs more of that!


Do you want to know more about how you can transform your workforce and build an effective business case for HR technology?




David ScullyBy David Scully

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