The Lazy Leader’s 5 Steps to Employee Satisfaction

Feb 1, 2022 4 min read
The Lazy Leader’s 5 Steps to Employee Satisfaction

In this post, Rebecca Lundin shares 5 simple steps a leader can use to improve employee satisfaction.

Getting a regular pulse of how employees are doing is a struggle for many companies.

As a leader, we’re painted different pictures depending on whom we speak with. And there are usually two sides to every story, right?

In today’s fast-paced world, there is also a myriad of things happening at work. Each day we make, communicate, and act upon (or not) a ton of decisions. We need to thrive in constant change.

Using data to get a people KPI (key performance indicator), it’s easier for leaders to move forward in the right direction. How does employee satisfaction vary, as you go along?

A Simple 5-Step Approach

  1. Continuously gauge employee satisfaction
  2. Open the conversations
  3. Act to solve issues
  4. Check the impact
  5. Repeat!

Which is the hardest step?

Many leaders don’t get to step two. And even more fail at step three: actually DOING something about it. So let’s look at how leaders can successfully improve employee satisfaction.

The key is to continuously improve, and to involve the team in the process.

Step 1: Continuously gauge employee satisfaction

New technology has made it easy to continuously get insights into employee satisfaction.

If you’re in a blue-collar environment or operate 24/7, you can get data to see the difference between shifts, or the impact of employees staying on to work longer hours. Using any type of simple smiley feedback system, it’s easy for your people to participate.

This is the ‘easy’ part. It’s so simple to participate, any employee can do it. They just press a button!

The hard part? That's the next step.

Step 2: Open the conversations

Research shows that open conversations about the current work climate and conditions is the fastest way to improve employee satisfaction.

Many times, that’s easier said than done, though.

For managers that already see the value in getting to know their staff as a person, not just a number, this comes easily. Most are probably already having these conversations in one way or another.

Yet for managers that are used to giving orders only, this is a bit like learning a new language. Scary! Hard! What do I do!

For the latter, you need to start with small steps. Challenge them to simple things like saying good morning to three people they’ve never spoken with. Or to share something personal with someone on their team that they like, trust, or consider to be a friend.

Then gradually step up until they are comfortable speaking with their people and asking inclusive wisdom-of-the-crowd questions like:

  • What do you think others on our team would like to change around here?
  • What would make our colleagues feel less frustrated now?
  • And what do others think we should start, stop and continue doing?

Step 3: Act to solve issues

The sooner this step happens, the better. Why?

Simply because actions speak louder than words. Acting on your employee’s feedback shows you’re listening, and that you’re trying to do something about it.

Start small. Create a ‘You Said, We Did’ board and share even the smallest things you’ve fixed.

Is the queue to the microwave annoying people? Spend £50 on a new one and give acknowledgement for people letting you know.

Does your company have a high turnover and people feel there’s no we-feeling? Organize a Popcorn Day or a Lunch Roulette. Or get everyone to wear quirky name tags for a day to spark conversations.

Just make sure you’re harmonizing with the stuff that works in your company culture. Unsure? Ask the first three people you meet in the corridor.

If you show your employees that you’re DOING things, they are more likely to trust you and start sharing the feedback that many are probably holding back.

Step 4: Check the impact

Using satisfaction data daily, you can verify the impact of your activities on employees.

You won’t boost employee satisfaction in a day; typically it involves looking at all areas of your company. However, if you and other leaders continuously act to improve those things that your staff bring up, your data should guide you to quicker get results.

What was the impact of the Popcorn Day you arranged?

If you use a system that gives you a baseline of staff satisfaction each day, you can check the deviation. Perhaps your baseline is that 70% of people press the happy smiley on average. If you get 92% on the day you organized a Popcorn Day, that’s an interesting signal.

However, the trend is the most fascinating.

How is your team’s satisfaction level this quarter, compared to last? Adjust and act accordingly, and remember to share the results with everyone on your team.

Step 5: Repeat

Getting a good level of employee satisfaction is a marathon, not a sprint! It’s not enough to throw in a Family Open Day once a year, or a yearly appraisal (which freaks everyone out and gets rumours going!)

You need to take a hard look at your leadership team at all levels, and be prepared to change things. Because if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get the same results, right?

So, you have to repeat the previous four steps, again and again.

The good news?

The more issues you—and your fellow leaders—solve together with your employees, the better workdays everyone will have.

And that translates into higher productivity and increased revenue for your company.

The even better news? You can start today.

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