Employee satisfaction should be a board-level issue

Satisfied staff members drive better financial performance for companies, yet employee engagement still isn't prioritised enough by businesses of all sizes.

Employee senitment can make or break a company, argues Jo Cresswell
Employee senitment can make or break a company, argues Jo Cresswell

While all employers want a satisfied and high-performing workforce, not all want to invest the time and resources necessary to achieve it.

Competitive salaries, flexible and attractive benefits and workplace policies that are aimed at driving employee satisfaction cost money; money that many businesses feel could be spent on quicker returns.

The correlation between high employee satisfaction and company profitability has not historically been clear-cut. However, numerous studies have proved the link.

One such study, by researchers at the University of East Anglia, used more than 326,000 Glassdoor reviews to quantify the impact of employee satisfaction on the long-run stock performance of companies. A portfolio of companies with high employee satisfaction significantly outperformed the overall stock market, earning 1.35 per cent extra returns above the market over the eight-year period they studied.

Employee satisfaction therefore does mean significant financial returns. This alone should make it a board-level issue.

(Dis)satisfaction to perception

As PR professionals, we have a job to educate businesses – our employers or clients – on the importance of employee satisfaction. While it’s no secret happy people go the extra mile and an unhappy employee won’t significantly contribute to business growth, we need to be prepared for – and understand the impact of – how they may communicate their views to others.

Employees can make or break your company. Their sentiment can win you awards, help you attract top talent, drive profits, and even attract investment and new clients. Equally, they can do the opposite, so this influence must be nurtured with the same care and resources that a company would nurture client relationships and customer satisfaction.

This all feeds into the employer’s overall brand, which is what those on the outside – job-seekers, shareholder, VCs, investors or clients – use to form perceptions of the business.

The power of the employer brand

Warren Buffet famously once said that it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. Arguably, it’s now quicker – five minutes is realistically more like five seconds. Employees can be your biggest advocate if treated right, but your biggest threat if they believe they’ve been treated badly.

Businesses must look to harness positivity shared by happy employees and understand and address the cause of any issues. Every company has areas that could be improved – and that is OK. Being seen as an employer that cares about its employees and is willing to tackle feedback generates a lot of goodwill.

Businesses have all eyes on them – employees, customers, investors, regulators – and one bad move can lead to serious repercussions. But a conscious effort to make a series of right moves can deliver serious returns.

Jo Cresswell is corporate communications manager, UK, at Glassdoor

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