Present-Worker Sentiments: Why Do They Seem So Dissatisfied?

Employees make up the backbone of any company. Despite this fact, only 21% of employees are engaged at work, with stress at an all-time high. In the constant push to grow profits and expand, employers can easily forget employee needs, which can negatively impact a company’s productivity, retention, and overall performance.

In the United States, only 20% of workers are passionate about their jobs. Businesses should be aware of this fact as a happy and engaged workforce goes above and beyond their job descriptions to do their best for their company.

Understanding the reasons for low employee satisfaction can create opportunities for businesses to make the workforce happy—the employers due to the increased productivity, the employees for having their needs met, and the customers for receiving better service.

8 Root Causes of Low Employee Satisfaction

For this section, let us look at the things that cause employee dissatisfaction and what management can do to alleviate them.

1.   Feeling underpaid

The most common reason for low job satisfaction is when an employee feels their salary is not proportionate to the amount of effort they are putting in. Companies can research salary levels for similar positions in the industry to either prove they are paying their employees an appropriate amount or adjust to the industry standard.

Low-salary employees often need to focus more on survival costs, such as housing, utilities, and food, and cannot perform their best in their jobs.

If a company cannot financially accommodate salary raises, it can reward employees differently. For example, they can offer more vacation days and paid leaves to alleviate their employees’ stress, allowing them to return to work refreshed.

Employees will surely appreciate small showings of understanding and compassion at work, even without a hefty salary raise.

2.   Limited growth options

Employees who feel stagnant and trapped in their position can become disengaged and dissatisfied. They need a clear career path and opportunities for learning and growth for them to commit to a company long-term.

Employers can offer training to show that they invest in their employees for the long term. Mentorship programs help management see employee needs and show employees that employers wish to nurture them.

However, any increases in responsibility should also come with a respective increase in compensation. Piling on promotions and tasks without a salary raise increases stress for no apparent reward.

Rewarding hard workers with promotions and training underperforming employees can keep employee satisfaction high.

3.   Poor work-life balance

Strict, inflexible hours or on-call assignments that eat an employee’s daily life can damage morale. Separating the professional and personal lives of employees is crucial for their well-being.

To promote work-life balance, companies can provide employees flexible hours and avoid making requests once they have clocked out of work. No one likes getting an urgent assignment late at night.

Respect for time goes both ways. Employees who see their employers respecting their time will reciprocate by focusing on their jobs while at work.

4.   Insufficient communication

A company needs to communicate clearly with its employees. Not informing employees of significant changes in direction and company goals can leave workers feeling frustrated and confused. For example, not sharing policies and punishing employees for violating them can leave them feeling wronged.

Additionally, employers must make perceptible changes based on employee feedback and criticisms. It damages employee morale to repeat a request and have management not take any actions.

Communication goes both ways, and being clear improves employee loyalty and appreciation.

5.   Bad management

Having someone look over your shoulder as you work is a frustrating and nerve-wracking experience that can result in poor performance. Managers who constantly micromanage every action can stifle creativity. Conversely, supervisors who do not give constructive feedback can leave employees feeling lost and making repeated mistakes.

A good balance, where managers give helpful feedback while giving employees creative freedom, can significantly boost morale and productivity without much effort.

6.   Lack of inclusion

For companies with multinational employees, having an employee’s cultural and religious beliefs be ignored or not respected can immediately damage their motivation and respect for their employers.

For example, hiring in the US, considered a “melting pot” country of various ethnicities and beliefs, requires employers to adjust so all employees are respected. Being treated differently or having contributions ignored due to discrimination strongly conveys that employers do not see employees as individuals.

Companies need mandatory inclusivity training for their workforce to unlearn inherent prejudices and learn to work together.

7.   Unclear rewards

People often feel discouraged when nobody sees their efforts. This feeling is common in the workplace. No concrete rewards for good performance can make employees feel like they can work with less effort.

Setting measurable performance goals with pre-announced rewards can boost employee motivation. Companies need to announce these rewards beforehand so that the compensation is the same for everyone. If only one employee is rewarded for hard work when others are performing just the same, it can further push employees only to give their minimum effort.

8.   Uncomfortable work environment

Employees should be able to focus on their jobs while in the office. However, many things can affect their work, such as competitiveness and isolation.

While competition can push people to be innovative, too much of it can make the workplace toxic and petty. For example, if a reward or promotion is extremely sought-after, employees can resort to sabotage and consequently hurt their organization.

A tight-knit and supportive workforce can help everyone perform better than they might be able to individually. Companies that do not promote inter-office relations miss out on the power of a collected and driven group.

To solve these issues, companies must hold work- and non-work-related group activities to promote cooperation and positive interaction.

Maximum Satisfaction Equals Maximum Productivity

Showing consistent appreciation and respect and allowing employees to be creative and cooperate enables employers to tap into the increased capability of a passionate workforce.

Harsh labor conditions and unfair office practices may boost revenues faster and easier, but creating a safe, happy workplace can improve long-term productivity and lead to more business success.