Worker Satisfaction in the Family-Like Work Environment

American workers feel less job satisfaction than ever before, just check the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Workers are unhappy with their supervisors, apathetic about their organizations and disconnected from what they do. While this may not change soon, it is not a mystery how this happens and how you can prevent it in your organization.

We know that lower job satisfaction translates directly into a reduced bottom line. In fact, the lower job satisfaction scores may be costing an amazing $300 billion annually. Poor job satisfaction results in greater absenteeism, less engagement (and ownership of organizational success), and reduced productivity.

A study by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer at the Harvard Business School found that the inner work life of each employee has an incredible effect on creativity, productivity, commitment, and collegiality. Their real-time data showed that managers could help ensure that people were happily engaged at work. They found that worker’s well-being depended on a manager’s ability and willingness to facilitate accomplishments by removing obstacles, providing help, and acknowledging strong effort. The most important way to engage people at work is to support them making progress in meaningful work.

When workers experienced their labor as meaningful, their progress was followed by increased positive feelings about the work. The experience is a spiral of satisfaction about the work, the self, and usually the organization.

The premise of our book, The People Side of Business, is that people perform better when there is support and structure available to them. Increasingly, there is data that shows the power of knowing how people function, and how to meet their needs. Doing so produces satisfied employees who are happier by virtue of accomplishing their work. Doing so occurs in a family-like environment where there is just as much concern about worker well-being as work productivity. How interesting that one necessarily comes from the other.

Tom DeMaio, PhD

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