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Employee Satisfaction Isn’t Enough: How to Use Recognition & Rewards to Boost Engagement and Happiness

We need to talk about the difference between employee engagement and job satisfaction – and what both can mean for your company.

Understanding the wants and needs of our employees has never been more important. Turnover, to some degree, is unavoidable. Career shifts, personal changes and financial gain will always play a part in the ways employees think about the work they do and can inevitably lead to the loss of valuable team members. But in 2021, employee turnover rates reached record highs, with 47.8 million people leaving their jobs in the US alone. This “Great Resignation” is unprecedented – and it’s costing employers millions.

To get ahead of this, many HR professionals have taken to sending out surveys to gain insight into the overall employee satisfaction of their team. A high employee satisfaction score should indicate that your employees are eager to continue their work for the company. However, HR managers are regularly gauging employee satisfaction, and turnover rates are still increasing. Employers are left scratching their heads and asking the question, “if my employees are satisfied, why are they leaving?” The answer is simple.

Employee satisfaction isn’t enough

If you’re settling for a satisfied workplace, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to connect with and motivate your employees. After all, isn’t “satisfaction” an awfully low bar to set?

There is a big difference between a satisfied employee and an engaged employee. In many workplaces, the norm is to send out semi-regular company surveys that typically gauge the satisfaction of employees overall. High scores should mean high retention rates, right? The issue is this: satisfied employees are not always engaged, happy employees. An employee with high satisfaction scores may go through the motions of their day-to-day tasks, but they’re not going above and beyond or making an effort to engage with work in a meaningful way.

When employees are engaged, not only are they happy at work, but they are also thinking about how their company can be better. This might look like streamlining business processes, brainstorming new ideas, or taking work off a coworker’s plate.

While company surveys are not a bad idea in theory, many of them are totally missing the point. Rather than measuring employee satisfaction, they should measure employee happiness, connectedness, and motivation. Are your employees excited about the work that they are doing? Do your employees feel their work is celebrated? Do they trust and appreciate their coworkers?

For those reasons, while companies should certainly be interested in ensuring their employees are satisfied with the work they’re doing, they should be more concerned with measuring and improving employee engagement.

Read on to better understand why employee engagement matters more than employee satisfaction – and how you can boost morale through recognition and rewards in order to keep happiness scores high and retain the best employees for longer.

Rewards and recognition go a long way

We know you’re proud of your team. But does your team know? How are your leaders, managers and peers connecting and encouraging each other on a day-to-day basis? While this may not seem like a top-of-mind issue, it should be. Often, managers view “employee appreciation” as one of those soft HR concepts that doesn’t really matter much. But it does matter – a lot, in fact. The data shows that approximately two out of three employees would quit if they don’t receive appreciation in their workplace.

Employee recognition plays a huge role in the overall success of a department. By calling out valuable contributions and behaviors in real-time, your employees know what success looks like to your company. When your team knows that they are valued by the company and what kind of work is most beneficial, your employees are able to work together more effectively and efficiently. Moreover, people are happier when they know their work is valued, and happy employees are less likely to seek work elsewhere.

Peer-to-peer recognition is just as important as recognition from management and supports a culture of engagement and sharing. By encouraging your team to implement a culture of recognition, your employees will be empowered to champion company culture while solidifying trust and teamwork with one another. Practicing gratitude and recognition can lead to a number of benefits that will improve job satisfaction and strengthen morale, like increased prosocial behaviors, strengthened relationships, and increased employee effectiveness.

A workplace culture of recognition and appreciation also creates lasting benefits for each individual, including:

  • Increased happiness and positive mood
  • More satisfaction with life
  • Less burnout
  • Less fatigue
  • Greater resiliency
  • More patience, humility, and wisdom

When your employees are connected to and appreciative of one another in the workplace, they experience greater qualities of life overall. When leadership demonstrates recognition and rewards employees for their hard work, overall workplace culture will follow, leading to a more connected and collaborative team – and significantly reducing turnover.

But where do you begin? How do you make the shift from a disconnected, unengaged workplace to one that not only encourages employee engagement but celebrates it?

Culturenext® makes it easy to boost employee engagement

Recognition and rewards software makes it easy to implement a system that champions employee connection and collaboration – leading to a more engaged workplace. A system like this provides the opportunity to actively celebrate and reward employees’ hard work and creates a space for team members to call out successes in one another. This kind of system does a far better job influencing employee attitude than a bi-monthly survey. Employees can connect with leadership, managers and peers on a regular basis, so everyone stays on the same page and knows that their work is valuable.

CultureNext®, an employee recognition platform from Maritz, goes beyond traditional employee recognition software to empower you to celebrate the many dimensions of your employee base. This platform creates a thoughtful recognition and rewards ecosystem to help you actively engage with your employee base. CultureNext® uses a person-first approach, guided by Strategic Tenure™ — an emerging way of thinking about investing in and developing the right employees.

Our goal is to help you create employee happiness through a culture of employee appreciation. Calling out both personal and work-related milestones, championing employee success and encouraging peer-to-peer recognition allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of your company, so you’ll never be surprised by a seemingly satisfied employee giving their two-weeks notice.

Keep your employees engaged – for longer

With CultureNext®, you’ll no longer have to worry if you’re doing enough. You can say goodbye to the frustrations associated with a disconnected workplace and say hello to a more engaged,  inspired organization — leading to saved costs and higher ROI. By taking the time to celebrate employee successes in real-time, rather than waiting to hear about frustrations after the fact, you will add considerable value to your business and significantly reduce your budget for hiring and training. Because after all, why would an employee leave a company that not only rewards them for their hard work but fosters an environment of happiness and positivity that carries over into every aspect of their lives?

Don’t settle for satisfaction. Contact us today to reach your full potential and watch your employee engagement skyrocket – leading to happier, eager-to-work employees, both in and out of the office.