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Employee satisfaction: what it is and how to improve it
Illustration by Maya Ramadhina

6 min read

Employee satisfaction: what it is and how to improve it

Discover how to improve employee satisfaction and engagement in your workplace.

It stands to reason that when you’re happy and satisfied—whether it’s with a job, your home, or a relationship—you tend to stay put. When employees are satisfied, they put more effort into their jobs. They engage more and will go above and beyond expectations every time. 

And while one satisfied employee will do much to strengthen a company’s foundations, imagine what an entire workforce, committed, loyal, and fully engaged in their work, could do! 

Beyond the benefits to individual happiness, employers gain many benefits when employees are satisfied. Increased productivity, higher employee retention rates, and improved internal culture and morale are just a few. Plus, a company with a highly engaged workforce is up to 23% more profitable than its disengaged competitors. 

So the question is, are your employees satisfied? And if you’re unsure, how would you measure it, and what could you do to improve it? Let’s find out.

The difference between satisfaction and engagement

Even though employee satisfaction and employee engagement are closely related, they’re not quite the same. 

Engagement is about how motivated employees are. But as we all know, that’s not always enough. Employees engage for different reasons. They may have personal or career development goals that don’t necessarily include long-term tenure at the company. 

By the same token, satisfied employees are not always engaged employees. They might be happy in their jobs but do the bare minimum while on the clock. 

We must look at the bigger picture to gauge employee satisfaction levels accurately. When we consider motivation, productivity, and happiness, we get a more concise picture of employees’ satisfaction. 

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Factors affecting employee satisfaction

Employers can’t control every factor influencing employee satisfaction, but many circumstances can be affected by an applied combination of policy and empathetic leadership. Some of these include:

  • Work-life balance. Burnout is one of the biggest reasons employees become disengaged. Employers must ensure employees are not overwhelmed and provide flexible work schedules if necessary to maintain that balance.
  • Compensation and benefits must be fair, adequate, and competitive for the position and work done.
  • Career development opportunities are prime motivators for employees to stay with a company long-term.
  • The ability to get work done is critical. Employees will derive more satisfaction from a job where they feel like they are accomplishing something—as opposed to one that feels like they are constantly pushing water uphill. 
  • It is essential to feel that one’s work matters as it connects employees to the company’s success.
  • Providing a positive work environment and organizational culture is the ultimate satisfaction, as employees feel happy to come to work every day and have a sense of purpose.

Assessing employee satisfaction

Employees may appear happy, but how can you know for sure? Measurement is critical as data tells the true story, enabling actionable insights that allow you to identify issues and course-correct if necessary. 

Here are a few methods used to measure employee satisfaction. 

  • Employee surveys and feedback mechanisms. Regular surveys to measure employee satisfaction help employers learn about the employee experience directly from the workers. Soliciting honest, anonymous employee feedback lets employees know their opinions are valued. 
  • Performance evaluations and goal-setting. Periodic performance reviews highlight employee progress over time, fostering a culture of feedback and continuous improvement.
  • Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a way to assess employee satisfaction levels by measuring how likely they are to recommend their employer to others, usually gauged on a scale of zero to ten. 
  • Reviewing turnover rate. High turnover generally indicates dissatisfied employees, which could point to issues with company culture or myriad other factors. Whether it’s a spike or a trend over time, high turnover requires deeper investigation to get to the root of the problem. 

12 strategies for improving employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is never one-and-done. It’s an ongoing process that companies must commit to and make it part of their culture. With policies in place, the employee experience improves, and anomalies can be quickly identified before they become more significant. 

Strategies for satisfaction can be broken down into three broad categories—engagement, enablement, and celebration.


  1. Create a psychologically safe workplace. Management plays a vital role in building trust and maintaining psychological safety. Ensure there is no place for negativity, create a feedback culture, avoid blaming, and demonstrate understanding. 
  2. Give everyone in your organization a voice. Involving employees in decision-making strengthens the culture and ensures employees feel valued. When opinions are solicited, employees will more readily accept and adapt to changes, even when those changes are challenging.
  3. Allow for flexible work schedules. Flexible work schedules accommodate employees who might not otherwise be able to work. Willingness to accommodate speaks volumes about how much you value your employees and will gain their loyalty. 
  4. Encourage work-life balance initiatives. Provide adequate time off and opportunities to engage outside the workplace so employees can refresh. 


  1. Make it easy to find the answers they need. Provide an organized content library for documents and assets to inform and advance product, service, and process knowledge.
  2. Provide opportunities for professional development. Access to training modules, courses, continuing education, and enrichment programs encourages employees to advance at their own pace and strive to advance their careers.
  3. Reduce the amount of notification noise. Ensure your notifications are relevant to the team, role, or person. Too many irrelevant notifications may cause employees to disengage. 
  4. Create a culture of collaboration. Be intentionally collaborative, invite diverse viewpoints, and encourage feedback. 


  1. Recognize and reward employee achievements. Recognition boosts employees, helping them and their teams stay connected to the mission. 
  2. Provide regular feedback. Regular feedback encourages employees to engage and shows them that you are paying attention and that they matter. 
  3. Show employees their work matters. Recognition, praise, awards, mention in the company newsletter, and bonuses are ways to show employees they’re doing a great job. 
  4. Celebrate milestones. Birthdays, work anniversaries, promotions, hitting sales targets, onboarding new team members, or putting great ideas into action are just a few milestones to celebrate. 

Challenges and solutions in enhancing employee satisfaction

Every organization has unique challenges. For example, times of growth or significant change can be highly disruptive to the workforce, and employee satisfaction can take a hit. 

Leading with empathy, maintaining consistency, and ensuring transparency instill confidence and ensure employees always feel heard and valued. 

Overcoming resistance to change

When changes happen, be sure to inform employees and involve them in the conversation. It could be as simple as a staffing change or as monumental as a merger, but when everyone is informed and invited to voice their concerns, change will be much less disruptive. 

Addressing diversity and inclusion issues

Diverse teams are more productive and innovative and should be encouraged. Make diversity and inclusion part of your culture; the benefits will resonate throughout the organization. 

Handling conflicts and resolving issues effectively

Employers mustn’t allow conflict to fester. Employees should have clear paths to resolve issues without fear of reprisal. Management should practice active listening, show empathy, and determine preventative actions to avoid recurrence. 

Final thoughts

Measuring employee satisfaction is an essential practice that requires continuous monitoring to inform ongoing improvements. Pulse surveys, establishing a feedback culture, and prioritizing transparent communication help employees feel valued, heard, and connected, enabling continuous improvement. 


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Gabe Scorgie

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