Are you interested in discovering your employees’ most serious complaints? Knowing what makes employees unhappy is half the battle when you think about employee work satisfaction, morale, positive motivation, and retention. Listen to employees and provide opportunities for them to communicate with company managers. If employees feel safe, they will tell you what’s on their minds. Your work culture must foster trust for successful two-way communication.
HR Solutions, Inc., a Chicago-based management consulting firm specializing in employee engagement surveys, analyzed recurring themes in employee surveys and compiled the following top ten list. These are the items employees consistently complain about on surveys and in interviews. How many are true in your workplace?
- Higher salaries: pay is the number one area in which employees seek change. You can foster a work environment in which employees feel comfortable asking for a raise.
- Internal pay equity: employees are concerned particularly with pay compression, the differential in pay between new and longer term employees. In organizations, with the average annual pay increase for employees around 4%, employees perceive that newcomers are better paid – and, often, they are.
- Benefits programs, particularly health and dental insurance, retirement, and Paid Time Off / vacation days: specifically, many employees feel that their health insurance costs too much, especially prescription drug programs, when employers pass part of their rising costs to employees.
- Over-management: Employees often defined by interviewees as: “Too many chiefs, not enough Indians.” Workplaces that foster employee empowerment, employee enablement, and broader spans of control by managers, will see fewer complaints. A popular word, micromanaging, expresses this sentiment, too.
- Pay increase guidelines for merit: Employees believe the compensation system should place greater emphasis on merit and contribution. Employees find pay systems in which all employees receive the same pay increase annually, demoralizing. Such pay systems hit the motivation and commitment of your best employees hardest as they may begin asking what’s in this for me?
As you adopt a merit pay system, one component is education so that employees know what behaviors and contributions merit additional compensation. Employees who did not must be informed by their manager about how their performance needs to change to merit a larger pay increase.
- Human Resources department response to employees: The Human Resource department needs to be more responsive to employee questions and concerns. In many companies, the HR department is perceived as the policy making, policing arm of management. In fact, in forward thinking HR departments, responsiveness to employee needs is one of the cornerstones.
- Favoritism: Employees want the perception that each employee is treated equivalently with other employees. If there are policies, behavioral guidelines, methods for requesting time off, valued assignments, opportunities for development, frequent communication, and just about any other work related decisions you can think of, employees want fair treatment.
- Communication and availability: Let’s face it. Employees want face-to-face communication time with both their supervisors and executive management. This communication helps them feel recognized and important. And, yes, your time is full because you have a job, too. But, a manager’s main job is to support the success of all his or her reporting employees. That’s how the manager magnifies their own success.
- Workloads are too heavy: Departments are understaffed and employees feel as if their workloads are too heavy and their time is spread too thinly. I see this complaint becoming worse as layoffs; the economy; your ability to find educated, skilled, experienced staff; and your business demands grow. To combat this, each company should help employees participate in continuous improvement activities.
- Facility cleanliness: Employees want a clean, organized work environment in which they have the necessary equipment to perform well.
The job satisfaction study included over 2.2 million respondents with 2,100 organizations representing various industries, all surveyed by HR Solutions, Inc.