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As organisations grow in size and complexity, it is easy to lose sight of what really makes a company tick. HR managers may realise that a company’s workforce is its most important asset, but overall policies, procedures and budget allocations usually do not reflect that same people-centric focus. Today we take a sneak peek inside the walls of companies with fantastic staff satisfaction levels, discovering which characteristics are linked to fabulousstaff satisfaction survey results.

Think of the companies that consistently make it into the top ten of the Great Place to Work™ Institute’s list: Google, Diageo, NetApp Australia, RedBalloon. You’ll find that these companies have very high levels of satisfaction. But what exactly contributes to these high levels of satisfaction?

Clear Goals

Both individual employees and the company at large must have goals and milestones agreed in order to meet strategic objectives. Successful firms set organisational goals independently of their employees, but develop employee goals that cascade down from the organisation’s objectives in consultation with the people who’ll be achieving them.

Reward and Recognition Programs

When you increase wages, you can sometimes spread a lot of money very thinly and dilute its value. A better way to increase staff satisfaction can sometimes be through achievable rewards and regular recognition programs. T-Mobile in the US achieved fantastic staff satisfaction levels with staff rewards programs, but ensured they spent the time upfront in surveying and interviewing employees to determine the structure and composition that would be most effective.

Career Paths

If your employees feel that they can ‘get somewhere’ within the company, they’re far less likely to seek satisfaction with another firm.


Additionally, if employees can get the training they need to grow and develop within the company, you’ll gain far more valuable and loyal employees. Indeed one of the most commonly cited reasons for leaving highlighted in exit surveys run by PeoplePulse is ‘lack of training and professional development’.

Work-Life Balance

The idea of trying to improve an employee’s life outside work can seem foreign, but it is actually a key to fantastic staff satisfaction levels, long-serving and productive employees. Working on developing your people is a holistic exercise, in which the workplace is only one environment.

Setting an Example

In the quest for employee productivity and satisfaction, the carrot approach is infinitely more effective than the stick. In addition to incentives for exceptional performance, employees need examples of the performance that will be rewarded. The best companies schedule time to share exceptional stories of innovation, customer service, product development and dedication with all employees. Some employees even empower management to ‘catch someone doing something good’ and reward them immediately in front of peers.

Listening and Responding

You must know what your employees are thinking to know if they are satisfied. You must know what they are dissatisfied with in order to change it. You must also follow through on that knowledge to get real results. Staff surveys are a common way to ensure that allemployees, not just those with the courage to approach a supervisor, have their views heard.


Rules can be the backbone of an organisation … but, just as in life, your backbone needs a certain amount of flexibility or it will cripple you. Companies with fantastic staff satisfaction often have policies that empower employees to act in customers’ best interests. When someone has to ‘check with a supervisor’, customer satisfaction often goes down, your employee’s feelings of self-efficacy go down, and satisfaction declines.


Knowledge is power … and useful knowledge is measurable! Availability of solid data on everything from customer satisfaction, to employee satisfaction, through to efficiency and throughput is critical to creating happy staff.

A Long Term Focus

Stability is important to employee satisfaction, just as routine is the key to creating happy and settled kids. Companies that shift priorities on a whim or in response to every shifting environmental factor consistently have less satisfied employees according to benchmarked HR survey results.

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