Do you want your employees to be happy or satisfied?
Inc. Magazine posted an article by the founder of Zappos on why he sold to Amazon. The article bears reading for many reasons, but I was struck especially by its emphasis on ‘happy.’ I think that is an error in focus.
The whole idea of an employer making employees happy is presumptuous, in my view. There are too many variables not in the employer’s control. And an individual’s view of their happiness quotient changes, constantly.
As mentioned by both Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and Tony Hsieh, Zappos founder, rarely do people know what will make them ‘happy.’ Happy may be an allusive goal, some folks have it, others don’t. Happy isn’t an achievable outcome.
Control what you can control. Perhaps instead of happy, consider satisfied. (Some research indicates ‘happy’ is something one is born with.) Employee satisfaction can be ascertained, measured and even controlled. Beyond the formal testing/metrics, there is much you can learn just by being observant.
A few indicators to track employee satisfaction:
- Is there employee-traced vandalism?
- Is turnover high?
- Are people working productively?
- Do they volunteer for extra hours?
- Do they volunteer new ideas?
- Do they attend company sponsored events?
- Do they pick up after themselves?
- Do they refer their friends?
- Is there excessive absenteeism?
- What do employees say on exit interviews? Are they angry?
A coach’s view. I can share what is absolutely true and measurable. The reason most people leave their employer/job is they don’t feel appreciated. The corollary is also true. Many people accept jobs or stay in jobs where they are underpaid or perks missing because they know they can make a noticeable contribution will be appreciated, acknowledged and celebrated.