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Employee satisfaction: Money isn’t everything

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It would be foolish to pretend that money has no effect on employee satisfaction and retention. However, beyond a certain level, and especially for key employees, factors other than money play an important role in keeping your staff happy and motivated.

"No matter what the generation, Baby Boomer, Generation X or Millennials, it comes down to three motivators: Stimulating work, supportive management and work-life balance," says Andrée Mercier, a principal with Hewitt Associates, a human resources company.

Focusing on these factors will not only help you retain employees, but also recruit high-quality new ones. Employee satisfaction is even more important for growing businesses, where high employee turnover can wreak havoc with productivity and your bottom line.

Focus on engagement

The best employers focus on engagement, says Mary Karamanos, Senior Vice-President, Human Resources at BDC.

"Engaged employees are generally more motivated, more productive, give better service to clients and are generally happier," she says. "A large part of engagement comes down to the way you manage and communicate with your employees. Be open and honest, share information, be inclusive and ask your employees for their input."

Fostering engagement begins before an employee has been hired. How you word a recruitment ad will influence the type of applicants who come forward. While you want to make the position and the company sound as enticing as possible, be careful that you can deliver on what you promise.

"Our surveys show there's a big drop-off in engagement after about 12 months, when the honeymoon is over,” Mercier says. “So, if you're branding yourself as a sexy place to work, be sure you can deliver on what you're selling."

Create an HR plan

A sound HR plan should be integrated in your business plan and strategy. It should include planning what type of employees your company is going to need in the future.

You’ll want to consider your company’s growth plans in different market segments, products or services. Also, consider your normal turnover rate and pending retirements. This will help you focus on what type of skills and capabilities your organization will have to develop and/or acquire to achieve its goals.

"This is fairly easy to put in place,” Karamanos says. “What's more difficult is having the discipline and the rigour to evaluate your employees' performance at least once a year—to discuss how they are progressing, their areas for development and where they want to go in their career.”

All companies, regardless of size, should have a performance management system as a key component of their human resources strategy. This can be developed with the help of a consultant or any of the many books available on the subject.

Employee satisfaction—more than just cash

  • Paint a true picture—The more accurate and realistic you are about job specifications and requirements, the more comfortable and motivated your people will be.
  • Give feedback—Constructive feedback allows your employees to improve and develop their skills.
  • Engage with your top performers—Get their input often and reward excellent performance.
  • Give innovative perks—Consider flexible work hours, opportunities to work from home and downtime from hard work.
  • Reinforce team spirit and recognize team/employee efforts and contributions—Plan special events such as dinners, sports events or informal gatherings. Assign new employees a buddy to help during orientation.

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