Is it them or us?

Yet another survey on employee satisfaction has been released, saying that less than half of employees like their job.

Is it any wonder managers complain about employee performance? Someone who isn’t happy where they are, doing what they are doing, is not a great candidate for employee of the month.

Most managers blame the current generation. But there have always been employees like that. In every generation, managers have complained about employees and their lack of drive and ambition. The job of a manager is to find and keep the best employees. Even if the pool of good, motivated employees is shrinking, we can find them, and once we do find them, keep them.

Employee satisfaction is tied more to the conditions of the job and the practices of the employer than to the job itself. Employees doing the same job at two different companies can have huge differences in their satisfaction levels.

Think about your worst job and why you felt it was so bad. Odds are it was because of a bad boss or a hostile environment, or simply an uncaring and demotivating culture.

Making employee satisfaction a core part of your company’s strategy can create excellent returns by saving unnecessary expense.

The costs to replace employees found them and trained them can be tremendous, and there is a greater, unmeasurable cost in the form of the loss of customer goodwill and organizational disruption.

With the right strategies and commitment, companies can make workers doing the most mundane or unpleasant jobs into satisfied employees. I’ve talked to employees with jobs ranging from cleaning toilets to handling molten metal in hot factories. Each of them, despite the tedium or unpleasantness, described themselves as satisfied with their jobs and happy to be doing what they were doing.

It wasn’t the job that made them happy; it was what the company that employed them did to make them want to come to work and feel good about themselves and their contribution. They felt appreciated and a part of a bigger mission. They understood what their efforts did to accomplish the bigger goal.

If these employees can obtain satisfaction, think how much easier it should be to achieve that with employees whose jobs are challenging and exciting.

We can’t make every problem employee into employee of the month material. We can, however, create an environment that makes good employees not only stay good employees but also stay with our companies.

We play the major role in our employees’ job satisfaction. We cannot be satisfied with 50 percent of our employees unsatisfied. Joel Strom ([email protected]) is director of Joel Strom Associates LLC, the growth management practice of C&P Advisors LLC. The firm works exclusively with closely held businesses and their ownership, helping them set and achieve growth objectives while maximizing their profitability and value. Contact him at (216) 831-2663.