What’s better than surveys and external research to understand the status of employee satisfaction and happiness? Go ask the person. Yes, seek and you shall find.
We often spend a lot of time and energy trying to analyze surveys and reports. Those help for sure. To predict the behavior of a large group of people, we certainly need structured data and responses.
But, the best approach to understanding employee satisfaction and happiness is to ask the following three questions.
- Do you feel happy and valued at work?
- What are your plans and goals?
- How can we help?
Get Personal To Boost Employee Satisfaction And Happiness
Irrespective of your leadership style, you need to allocate time to have one on one conversations with each employee. And, these need to be a healthy mix of formal and informal conversations.
Some inside a cabin or meeting room – when you need a formal setting and ambience.
The others in an informal setting – walk around the office. Meet for a cup of tea or coffee.
Employees value both appreciation and feedback. So be generous with appreciation. And don’t hold yourself back from giving timely and valuable feedback.
Getting personal does not mean interfering or peeping in their personal lives. Listen if they want to share, but define boundaries and respect their space. Getting personal means understanding their personal aspirations, challenges, ambitions and goals.
An easy hack is to schedule once in a quarter meeting to ask these three questions.
1. Do you feel happy and valued at work?
It’s a direct question. Be direct but not intimidating or bossy when you have this conversation.
Set the context:
“Thank you for taking out time for this meeting today. We often don’t get to share our concerns and challenges amidst the busyness and hustle bustle of work. The next half an hour is all about you. I need to understand how you feel about your work, the environment at work. Am I able to add value to your career and goals? This is a formal discussion but what we discuss is between you and me. Be honest, be transparent and be direct. And, don’t hold back if you have any questions or feedback.”
Give them time and opportunity to reply. Take the time to offer tea or coffee. And then proceed with the first question – “Do you feel happy and valued at work?”
Focus on both the verbal and non-verbal communication. They may not be forthcoming at times especially in the first couple of instances. So probe further.
Remember, it’s not a public trial. So, it’s okay to ask leading questions. No opposing attorneys to raise objections.
If there have been specific instances such as missing out on job promotions or missing out on incentives for small margins, bring those up. Check how he or she felt about the situation. Help them understand the context.
And, reassure them of their contribution and value to the team.
If they start sharing personal challenges affecting their happiness, be empathetic. Listen and offer advice to the best of your abilities. If you feel they need professional counselling, guide them.
2. What are your plans and goals?
Ambitions, goals and aspirations are not the same for all.
Some may want to be the best in what they do. Some may want to move into higher positions within the organization. While there may be some preparing for starting a venture of their own.
You may also have employees who value personal goals more than career goals. In fact there are some who do not have career goals. And, there’s nothing wrong with not having career goals and aspirations.
This question lets you understand the way forward – does the employee need help to get better at his or her job? Is there a need to help develop other skills?
The answer also is an indicator of how long they plan to work for you. If the employee wants to start a new venture or pursue another skill, you can plan for a smooth transition and succession.
The employee too gets feedback and guidance. She would value your leadership and look at you as a mentor and catalyst for personal and career growth.
3. How can we help?
This again is a direct question to wrap it up. While the conversation so far gives you indications and directions, it is good to get a clear understanding.
A direct question would lead to a direct answer.
Encourage a direct answer. Make the person feel confident and gain his or her trust.
Help could be anything – mentorship, relationship advice, career guidance, solution for a specific work problem or something trivial like change of seat or better snack options.
Remember that everything matters.
What’s trivial for one may be critical for another.
If you could offer instant help, do that. If you cannot, explain and promise that you will consider. Commit to a timeline and follow up as promised.
Wrapping Up: Formal meeting to unravel employee satisfaction and happiness
Wrap up the session on a positive note. Summarize if you have taken notes. You should.
Give an opportunity to ask questions. Answer each with the right balance of transparency, honesty and diplomacy. Also, know when to cut off. Some chatterboxes can go on an on. However don’t be abrupt and disrespectful.
Recap the promises made and remind them the follow-up timelines.
And yes – show the courtesy to walk them out of the room with a firm handshake and bright smile. That makes them feel valued and special.
I’ve done this and this works always. A time tested formula to build and nurture relationships with your team. Simple solutions and approach can help you unravel the employee satisfaction and happiness mystery.
Got any tips for me and other readers. Do share in the comments section below. Thank you.