Employee satisfaction is just as important as customer satisfaction. All studies show that they go hand-in-hand. If your employees are happy, your customers are happy.
Which is why more and more companies are investing in monitoring and improving the employee experience.
The 4-day week, greater mental health awareness, the “Big Quit”, remote working… This article will take a look at the main changes the workplace has undergone and the challenges relating to wellbeing at work.
Employee Satisfaction, a Key Part of Customer Satisfaction
The challenges surrounding the customer experience have brought the question of customer satisfaction to the forefront. Improving it has become a priority for most companies.
Several studies have shown a strong link between customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction. This is known as symmetry of attention. According to an often-quoted study by Gallup, an increase of 2 points in employee motivation leads to an increase of 1 point in customer satisfaction.
There’s a logical explanation for this: happy employees, who feel good at work, are more productive and pass on their satisfaction to customers.
Of course, this mainly applies to employees in direct contact with customers, such as customer service advisors, sales reps, marketing teams, etc.
As such, companies are increasingly mindful of their employees’ wellbeing. The importance of employee satisfaction is a recurring theme at Skeepers.io:
- What is symmetry of attention and how can you apply it to your business?
- Change management and customer experience: complementary approaches
- Remote working – 20+ questions to ask to manage employee satisfaction
- The role of internal communication in customer satisfaction
This article will focus on the new trends in terms of managing employee satisfaction and, more generally, transformations in ways of working (in particular remote working).
Employee Mental Health (Finally) in the Spotlight
The first trend is a greater awareness around employee mental health, which has long been ignored. Responsibility for this lies not only with companies, but also with society as a whole.
The psychological impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health. Health is about both the body and mind.
Some companies have implemented measures to safeguard their employees’ mental health, as some people struggle with recent work transformations. These initiatives can take on different forms, such as allowing employees to choose, refuse or limit remote working. For example, some employees enjoy the freedom of working from home, whereas others feel isolated and withdrawn.
More generally, all the initiatives aiming to improve employee wellbeing are, by very definition, measures that help safeguard mental health, such as the 4-day week.
The 4-Day Working Week: A Popular Phenomenon
Since 2022, the Spanish government, led by socialist Pédro Sanchez, has been trialling the 4-day working week. This experiment will last 3 years and involve 200 companies, including famous brands such as Desigual.
The Icelandic government already implemented this measure a few years ago and it’s recently been adopted by Belgium and England. And this movement isn’t limited to Europe, as the 4-day (or more like 4½-day) week has also been introduced in the United Arab Emirates.
The concept? To concentrate a 5-day working week into 4:
- By increasing the number of hours worked per day: in Belgium, the legal length of a working day has been increased from 8 hours to 9.30 hours for companies that have adopted the 4-day week.
- Or by reducing salaries in proportion to the reduced working hours per week, which is what Desigual opted for.
A 4-day week could involve a 3-day weekend, or a day off on Wednesday to break the week up.
The aim? To enable employees to reach a better work-life balance and be happier at work. The idea being that if this extra day off makes employees happy, then they will be more satisfied and productive at work.
Microsoft Japan claims that the transition to a 4-day week has increased productivity by 40%. Which is a lot! Other companies highlight the impact of the 4-day week on absenteeism.
The idea is to better manage and reduce the mental load associated with work. LinkedIn’s “no meeting days” follow the same logic.
As Matt Marazzo, co-CEO of Nike explains, “taking time for rest and recovery is key to performing well and staying sane”. At the end of the summer in 2021, the famous shoe brand gave employees an extra 1 week off.
Safeguarding Mental Health: France is Lagging Behind
France hasn’t trialled the 4-day week yet, despite interest from several companies. In early February 2022, the head of Total Energie said on RTL that he was considering giving his employees an extra half day, or even full day, off per week, with the same working hours and pay.
Whether in terms of reducing working hours or preserving employees’ mental health, France is lagging behind.
Yet several studies have pointed to the psychological impact of the lockdowns and restrictions. According to a Malakoff Humains survey in September 2021, 41% of French people feel that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health.
In France, more than elsewhere, mental health is still taboo. “Mental illness” is still associated with the idea of madness. In the land of Descartes, what is invisible (emotions) has no consistency and some people are still ashamed to say that they are in therapy.
Thankfully, things are changing, but not quickly enough. Companies are gradually becoming more aware of mental health and its impact on motivation and productivity, as demonstrated during the various lockdowns.
What Does the Big Quit Reveal?
You’ve no doubt heard about this phenomenon. In the US, millions of employees decided to quit their job in the wake of the health crisis. This is known as the “Big Quit” or the “Great Resignation”. In 2021, it is estimated that nearly 50 million people quit their jobs, which is almost a third of the 160 million workers in the USA.
What does this phenomenon reveal? That there are deep-rooted problems in the workplace of two kinds: working conditions and a sense of meaning in work. Dissatisfaction that leads to people quitting is generated by perceived low wages, but also the feeling of doing a useless job.
Making work meaningful again is a key area to focus on, in particular through:
- Greater transparency from management with regards to company goals. Understanding what you’re working towards is the first way of giving a job a sense of meaning, even if you’re not fully aligned with the objectives.
- Greater employee involvement in strategic decision-making.
- Listening to employees more. Collecting employee suggestions, opinions and feedback can have a positive impact on employee self-esteem and satisfaction… as long as it leads to improvement actions.
Remote Working Isn’t the Answer to Everything
The French Ministry of Labour surveyed 5,220 employees on the subject of remote working. The results were published in a study in February 2022. It revealed that:
- 27% of employees were working remotely in January 2021, compared to only 9% in 2019.
- 80% of remote workers were satisfied with this way of working… but would like to do it less.
- 7 out of 10 employees feel they get more done when they work remotely.
Remote working has become increasingly widespread in France as a result of the health crisis. However, it’s become clear that remote working is not the answer to everything. Some people enjoy working from home and feel it gives them greater freedom, whereas others feel isolated, lacking motivation or overwhelmed. Not everyone agrees.
Remote working was the main trend in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, the trend is to question this way of working.
The graph below, extracted from the study, shows the diverse profiles of remote workers.
A company looking to increase its employees’ wellbeing should make remote working more flexible according to each employee’s expectations and desires.
As we’ve said before, customer satisfaction is partly determined by employee wellbeing. It should be the main focus! This article provides an overview of some of the trends and highlights of this broad topic.
Here’s a bit of advice: measure your employee satisfaction, just like you measure customer satisfaction, and listen to the Voice of the Employee to identify areas for improvement to the employee experience. This employee-centric approach will take you far… and in the right direction, too!