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Is job satisfaction a good measure of staff effectiveness?


<b>A lot of effort is put into motivating employees. But is a happier employee better at their job? Or does it take something else to put fire into their belly? Stefan Stern reports</b>

Sarah Dormer, HR director, Waterstones

For a long time, organisations have been measuring employee satisfaction, or happiness. I think that understanding how your people feel is important, but I tend to regard these surveys as smilometers they dont really tell you very much that you dont already know.

We should be measuring behaviour commitment rather than happiness. We look at three areas specifically to measure commitment: help what sort of service are our booksellers offering?; recommend would they spontaneously advocate Waterstones as a good employer to their friends?; and stay do they have loyalty to us? This is the behaviour that really affects the bottom line.

I was involved in some research with the Institute of Employment Studies that suggests there is a link between having more committed employees and achieving better results. In staff surveys your people may tell you they are satisfied, but happiness may not indicate a good level of service. Commitment does. At Waterstones we redesigned our survey to understand the key drivers for our people what three things would make a huge difference to their job. The route to commitment is different for different people. Finding what the levers are for your people is the challenge.

Andrew Brown, global practice leader, The Empower Group

A lot of the recent research suggests that highly satisfied employees are not necessarily any more productive. If all companies are measuring is satisfaction, then they are measuring the wrong thing. You also need more proactive measures motivation levels, brand engagement, and how your staff talk about the firm and its products and services.

These measures are important because they link to behavioural change. Happiness, however, doesnt really link to anything in particular. But it is worth measuring as unhappy employees will leave.

High-performing companies are those where there is effective performance management, but where this becomes cut-throat it is simply destructive. Rigorous performance management may not make employees happy in a crude sense, but it may deliver better results, which is ultimately good

for everyone.

There is a tendency for HR measurement to be too remote from the realities of the business and its bottom-line results. In the end this is really about effective performance management. Are you measuring the important things, like engagement, and are you linking this back to business performance?

Carol Kavanagh, HR director, Argos

Whether people are ambitious or not depends on their individual values and personal make-up it is not something an organisation can necessarily affect, and

not something you can pick up easily in a staff survey. Happiness at work, however, will probably depend

on the basic levels of satisfaction that a person has

in what they are doing. One measure of this is whether their skills are being fully utilised.

For us the important question is, how engaged our people are at work? How motivated are they to make that extra effort beyond the basic requirements of the job? A key measure of engagement is whether our people are advocates of our business and this is what we strive to measure and promote.