In the late 1980’s, the tagline in the Snickers candy bar commercials was “Snickers really satisfies you!” If that holds true today and we’re not getting the results we need from making our employees happy, maybe a Snickers bar will get the job done? If only, right…?
Having just challenged the idea that employee happiness might not necessarily yield what we really need in our organizations, let’s consider what would seem to provide us with more tangible results; employee satisfaction…
I recently read an article on Forbes.com called The Five Fundamentals of Employee Satisfaction that shared “if employees like what they’re doing, they put in more effort. When they put in more effort, they’re more likely to succeed and be more satisfied.” If we go back to my example of the employee who’s happy because they haven’t been held accountable for doing anything productive in the last five years, they could very well put more effort into whatever it is that they’re doing on company time but I’m not sure that would help us get any closer to what we really need as an organization!
Be honest here, you just pictured someone who fits that description didn’t you? I certainly had a few faces flash in front of me as I typed that out… But let’s move beyond those few folks and think about what’s hopefully a much larger percentage of our workforce, the genuinely good people who understand their jobs as well as anyone can and take at least a little bit of pride in being productive humans. If those folks “like what they’re doing” and put in more effort, and therefore succeed in any way at all, what does being “more satisfied” really look like?
While I believe the idea of putting in more effort and succeeding may actually be more fulfilling than satisfying, I get the point that the author of that article was making. In fact, one definition I found for satisfaction actually spoke to fulfillment; “Satisfaction is the act of fulfilling a need, desire, appetite, or the feeling gained from such fulfillment.” But how can we really get an accurate measurement for how satisfaction translates into action, or more importantly for those of us who are responsible for the profit & loss statement, profitability? To that end, being satisfied or fulfilled is often much more tied to personal needs or desires than to any company initiative. And I may need two Snickers bars to satisfy me where you only need one!
Hear me loud and clear here though: I’m not at all suggesting that we don’t need to work to make sure our team members get satisfaction and fulfillment from what they do. Quite honestly, I believe working toward and fulfilling a purpose plays a huge role in helping anyone be in the game (whatever their game is) over the long haul without burning out. However, since fulfillment tends to vary from person to person - both in what it takes to be fulfilled as well as how we each respond when we are fulfilled - I still don’t think that’s where we need to put our focus as we’re working to build an organizational culture where everyone strives to be and do their best…
If we really want to have a measurable impact on the results we achieve, we need to focus on buy-in, commitment, and one more key term that’s defined as to “pledge or enter into a contract to DO something.” The DO part is where the rubber meets the road and we’ll look at where that comes from next time...
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