The pinnacle of employee satisfaction

By Irma Doze

This article was originally published on CHRO.

Just measuring satisfaction seems to be outdated for good. But what's smart to measure now?

On Sunday, March 20th, it was the International Day of Happiness. That prompted me to take another look at everything that is being measured around employees nowadays. It all started with 'just' employee satisfaction. But now, various new terms have emerged that we 'must' uncover, such as: engagement, workplace happiness, job satisfaction, involvement, vitality, and so on.

I see a similar development to what we experienced 20 years ago in marketing analytics. Just measuring satisfaction eventually proved insufficient, as satisfied customers were also found to leave. Therefore, many organizations now opt to measure the extent to which customers recommend the supplier (and/or the products), known as the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Similarly, the Employer Net Promoter Score measures the recommendation of the organization as an employer; the 'pinnacle' of employee satisfaction. The goal of the Employer Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is primarily to learn from both the promoters (with a high eNPS score) and the detractors (with a low eNPS score), understanding the reasons behind their scores. This 'why' helps the employer continuously make improvements to enhance the work and working conditions for employees.

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Improving the Employee Journey

It certainly helps to map out the journey employees take within an organization and examine all the moments that matter during that journey. This begins with the application process and ends when the employee leaves the organization. The goal of this research is to continuously enhance all conditions for both current and prospective employees.

What I personally appreciate about eNPS is that it truly focuses attention on what the employer can do for the employee. Of course, employees, like technology, materials, and resources, are 'assets' used to efficiently and effectively carry out organizational activities and thereby generate satisfied customers and/or revenue.

Various (scientific) studies have shown that happy and engaged individuals perform better at work and are less likely to call in sick. Vitality, engagement, and happiness play a mediating role between the presence of resources (provided by the employer) and job performance. From that perspective, it's logical that we also want to measure such aspects, especially when directly measuring job performance isn't always feasible.

As long as we keep a few things in mind:

  • Ultimately, factors like engagement and workplace happiness are (partly) dependent on the employer's efforts.
  • Job performance, as shown in various studies, correlates more with 'overall' happiness and 'overall' vitality of employees than with workplace happiness and job vitality. Thus, overall employee happiness and vitality may be better predictors of job performance, even though as an employer, you may not always have control over these factors. 
  • Beware of combining different values. For instance, engagement is essentially a combination of engagement and satisfaction (recommendation). The downside of averaging two values is that you lose specific information. 

On March 20th, day and night were exactly equal in length, perfectly balanced. Perhaps, as an employer, striving for a beautiful balance between the efforts of the organization and the efforts of the employee is a goal worth pursuing to achieve happiness in the workplace.

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