I have this theory which roughly states that an employees loyalty to a company is directly proportional to their satisfaction level. This seems obvious, but there are many things which apply to this which aren’t often taken into account, because the number one thing we consider is remuneration – I think this is wrong.
Sure, how much money an employee receives for their work performed plays a large role in their satisfaction, but it is a far cry from being the only thing making an employee happy. In fact, my theory goes on to suggest that even if you are paying bottom dollar for an employee’s services, you can still retain that employees loyalty if you can keep him (or her) happy in other areas.
What do I mean, exactly?
Well, it’s simple. If an employee consistently feels like they are being discriminated against, that is a negative strike against their satisfaction level. If an employee feels like efforts are being made to include them in activities despite it being inconvenient, that is a positive mark against their satisfaction level. Paying them more is a positive mark, giving them a free lunch for being an employee is a positive mark, consistently failing to recognize when they pick up the pieces of their co-workers failed tasks is a negative mark.
As a relative newcomer to the IT industry, I’ve only worked for a handful of companies, but already I can see that the way a company treats it’s employees directly impacts the employees satisfaction and ultimately reflects in the turnover rate in a given department or position. More importantly, I’ve noticed that it isn’t always about how much money an employee is paid – I’ve seen instances where someone will leave and when asked if increasing their pay could be an incentive to stay, they’ll say it straight that no amount of money could convince them that staying was a good idea.
If you’re in a position of management, find out how your employees feel about being a member of the team and the company. If they’re not comfortable telling you that they are unhappy, you may need to start looking inward at yourself because it’s likely they don’t trust you’ll protect them if they are truly honest. And if they are unhappy, try to get to the bottom of what’s bothering them – maybe it’s a personal problem at home and they need a couple of days off, or it could be that they are overloaded with work and need a hand with things.
To sum this up:
1) Not all employees are happy, and just because they say they’re fine doesn’t mean they are.
2) Not every employee happiness problem can be solved by throwing money at it.
When was the last time you had a team building exercise? I don’t mean going out into the woods to swing on ropes, or taking them to paintball or laser tag, but just sat down and had dinner? Maybe it’s time to take the company on a picnic – not to talk about work, but to just exist with coworkers, to get to know each other over conversation that doesn’t relate to last weeks sales call or next weeks investor meeting. Who knows, you may make people just as happy with a couple of hundred dollars total as you would giving each of them a 10% pay increase. Now that’s a smart business decision.