Many employers don’t realize that just because you may not have the money to raise your employees’ salaries doesn’t mean you can’t still improve employee satisfaction in other ways. Recent studies and surveys show that improving employee satisfaction is needed now more than ever, with less than half of American workers claiming to be satisfied with their jobs according to a 2010 report by Time magazine.
On top of dissatisfaction alone, the American Psychological Association found that 36 percent of employees complained of chronic work stress, while 32 percent were so severely dissatisfied that they planned on searching for a new job within the year. Before you even think about throwing another lame office pizza party, consider the following alternative perks you can offer employees to raise satisfaction and motivation while still adhering to a strict budget.
1. Flexible Scheduling
Stress in the workplace is the enemy to productivity. With harsh deadlines and strict schedules, the workplace becomes a haven for added stress and exhaustion. Although there needs to be some level of discipline and organization with any business, flexibility in scheduling often results in improved employee satisfaction and reduced stress. When employees are able to effectively manage their personal lives and their work lives together, the result is often a more positive attitude toward their work. When employers implement a flexible schedule, employees tend to feel a sense of personal desire to complete their work, rather than feeling forced due to schedule requirements.
2. Four-Day Workweeks
Employers may be hesitant to embrace the four-day workweek because it means several hours of lost work each week, but many companies have found that closing up shop early has actually led to improved productivity and savings in the form of reduced energy consumption. National Public Radio reported on the application of the four-day workweek in the state of Utah, which resulted in a 13 percent reduction in energy use and an estimated $6 million in savings on gasoline costs for employees. This initiative is expected to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the entire state by over 12,000 metric tons each year. As an added perk, 82 percent of state workers claim they want to keep the new schedule as a way to enjoy better balance of work and personal life.
3. Training Programs
A study by the Harvard Business Review revealed that the top factor that kept employees happy and engaged in the workplace was “making progress.” When companies give employees the tools they need to succeed, employees are more fulfilled and stimulated at work. Training programs are excellent resources for giving employees the resources and time they need to develop into smarter and more productive professionals. Applying this simple solution in the workplace will not only increase employee satisfaction, but also result in a more experienced, knowledgeable and fully prepared team.
4. Education Reimbursement
In line with the concept of training programs, education reimbursement offers mutually beneficial opportunities for employee development and advancement. Employees can quickly lose interest and passion for their jobs when they can’t see it leading to a better future. With education reimbursement, employers can help their employees gain the professional development they crave, while also making an investment in a more secure and better educated workforce. With the widespread availability of online institutions and other easily accessible degree programs, going back to school and extending education is feasible for virtually any professional.
With the pressure that business owners are feeling to keep profits high in a still recovering economy, making sacrifices to improve employee satisfaction can seem like a big risk. However, it’s difficult to argue with all of the studies that have been conducted attesting to the efficacy of different methods of employee satisfaction improvement. So next time you notice a lull in the work place, prepare to make big changes in the structure of your company for a result that lasts longer than the last slice of pizza.