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What Really Makes Employees Satisfied and Engaged?

Every year, we see headlines touting the results of the latest studies on the American workplace and the mindset of the American worker. And every year, we hear the same thing: average American employees are not satisfied, and it’s primarily because of their bosses. The Answers American Employee Study | Download Now

But is there more to it than that? That’s what the Answers American Employee Study, released today and available for download here, set out to determine. The study applies our proven, patented cause-and-effect methodology (the same methodology we use to measure the customer experience and the employee experience) to discover what makes American employees satisfied and engaged. We measured both attitudes (an employee’s satisfaction with and engagement in their work) and likelihood to engage in specific future behaviors (retention, as measured by an employee’s intent to stay with the company) to understand what’s happening with the American employee experience as a whole.

In our inaugural look at the American employee experience, overall worker satisfaction is rated at 65, on a 0-100 scale. This indicates that most employees are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, but are somewhere squarely in the middle. So what can companies can do to increase employee engagement and retention? We’ll discuss some key findings below. Download the full report for more.

On the State of the “Employee Satisfaction Survey”:

Nearly half the participants in the Answers American Employee Study reported they had never been asked by an employer to take a workplace satisfaction survey. And of the half that reported participating in an employee survey in the past, eighty-five percent said they saw little action taken by their employer as a result of providing feedback. So employers are either choosing to ignore the voice of the employee or they are measuring it in a way that doesn’t provide actionable insights.

On What Motivates Employees Today:

While traditional thinking tells us a proven way to motivate employees is to increase compensation or offer better benefits, one key finding that emerged in our study is that employees today hold their leadership accountable for much more than they used to. They want to be in the know regarding how their company is doing, what direction it is headed and that long-term decisions are being made that consider their best interests.

On What Makes Employees Engaged:

The Answers American Employee Study defined employee engagement as the degree to which employees feel emotionally connected to their company. We found the top three drivers of employee engagement to be:

  • Leadership: the American employee deeply craves company leadership that supports long-term growth over short-terms gains and that can provide a clear vision of the company’s direction.
  • Job: employers should find ways to ensure employees feel that they are given opportunities that challenge their skills and abilities
  • Supervisor: employees who feel that they receive praise and recognition when they do a good job and who also receive constructive feedback when necessary are much more satisfied and engaged than those whose supervisors do not provide this sort of mentorship.

So how engaged are American employees? Our study found that: What Drives Employee Engagement?

  • 28% of employees are not engaged
  • 45% of employees are in the middle
  • 27% of employees are highly engaged

Once again, we see a silent majority appear, with almost half of employees falling in the middle. If employers take action to move these employees from indifference to engagement, they will reap the rewards of a more committed workforce.

The Bottom Line:

American employees want company leadership with long-term vision, and they want to be kept in the know about the organization. They also want to be fairly compensated— but they value managers who consistently provide appropriate guidance and recognition. Finally, they will stay with employers when they feel their work is challenging, rewarding and not intrusive of their personal time. The Answers American Employee Study provides a broad perspective of the American employee overall, not of a specific group of employees at a specific company under specific circumstances. While our study identifies some key drivers of employee satisfaction and engagement, it’s important to understand  drivers of satisfaction, engagement and employee retention—and the degree to which those drivers have an impact—will differ by employer. For more insights, download the Answers American Employee Study here. You can also learn more about our approach to measuring employee satisfaction and engagement here.

Categories: Employee Satisfaction

About the Author

Eric drives ForeSee’s marketing strategy, working closely with the company’s product, client service, and sales teams to infuse innovation and operational excellence into its offerings. Since joining ForeSee in 2004, he has contributed to the organization’s strategic growth, particularly providing leadership around mobile solutions. He is the author of several of the company’s thought leadership studies, including the 11th annual ForeSee Experience Index (FXI) and the American Employee Study. Eric is a frequent speaker on customer experience analytics, and marketing best practices. He is a board member of the Digital Analytics Association (DAA) and an adjunct professor of mobile marketing at the University of California, Irvine Extension. Previously, he worked as a web analyst, multichannel strategy consultant, usability specialist and focus group moderator. Eric is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

Read more posts by Eric Feinberg


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