88 percent of employees who participated in the 2016 SHRM Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, indicated that they were satisfied with their current job. This marks the highest level of satisfaction over the past ten years.
Although there are many reasons that contributed to this statistic, "respectful treatment of employees at all levels" was at the top of the list for the second year in a row. It even beat out major players like pay, benefits and job security. (Did anyone else start singing a little Aretha Franklin?)
I'm not sure why I was surprised by this stat. It makes sense that if you're spending the majority of your waking hours somewhere that interpersonal relationships and culture would be important. It's also no surprise that when the participants were specifically asked about engagement, 77 percent indicated "relationships with their co-workers" was the most important. Let's take a look at how you can cultivate the two biggest factors of employee happiness at work.
Respectful treatment of all employees
1. Pay your taxes: No one is above the law. As a leader, you should seek to standardize rules and be consistent with expectations. Policies apply to all, or they will apply to no one. That includes your leaders. Saying one thing and doing another is a surefire way to lose respect. Be a great example by embodying and promoting values that everyone can subscribe to.
2. Stand up for the little guy and recognize: Have your employees' backs, support and encourage them. Remember that respect is earned not given. People want to feel valued and included. Also, give credit where credit is due and demonstrate respect for others--both have a trickle-down effect.
3. It's not always what you say, but how you say it: Be kind, humble and sincere in the ways that you manage and interact with your employees. You'll be surprised how far showing a little gratitude or empathy can go. Maya Angelou said it best, "Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning."
4. You may not need to say it at all: In an excerpt from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, he says, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply." If you don't listen first, then it will be awfully hard to relate--a key proponent to delivering feedback that sticks and earning respect.
Relationships with co-workers
Employee engagement, to over-simplify, can be determined by asking the following question: "Were you excited about coming to work today?" Having good relationships with bosses, colleagues or teams increases the odds that the answer is "yes."
Seems like a minuscule question, but take a look at this shocking statistic from Gallup, "After 30 years of research, Gallup found that companies with an engaged workforce outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share." Nothing to shake a stick at.
Here are the key drivers to creating great relationships via the Mind Tools Editorial Team:
1. Trust: If you could pick a cornerstone for a good relationship, trust would definitely be the best option. It enables employees to be open, honest and transparent. You'd be surprised how much energy new employees conserve by not having to constantly watch their back and calculate everything they say/do.
2. Mutual Respect: This is the key to fostering a collaborative environment. We must value everyone's thoughts, ideas, and input.
3. Mindfulness: This refers to taking responsibility for our own actions, words and the effects that they can have on those around us.
4. Welcoming Diversity: The Mind Tools team's approach to this is well said, "People with good relationships not only accept diverse people and opinions, but they welcome them. For instance, when your friends and colleagues offer different opinions from yours, you take the time to consider what they have to say, and factor their insights into your decision-making."
5. Open Communication: This one is pretty simple: the more we communicate with our colleagues, the richer our relationships will be.
Are you and your organization on trend? If not, focusing on building respectful cultures and investing in interpersonal relations may be the one domino that creates a chain reaction leading to more satisfied and engaged employees.