The last two years have proved that employees do not have to be physically present in the office to be productive. Staff augmentation best practices have enabled enterprises to stay effective even during the pandemic. Despite all the layoffs and economic turmoil, overall job satisfaction during the pandemic has increased. In fact, it is now the highest since 2010: over 54 percent in 2020, compared to 42 percent a decade ago.
Though it is an overall trend, organizational commitment and job satisfaction may differ for each business or social group. For example, in 2020, younger employees reported a decrease in this parameter compared to the satisfied 55+ age group, likely due to the uncertainty caused by weak labor markets. Drops like this one can lead to decreased productivity, low team morale, absenteeism, and other problems you don’t want to deal with right now.
But how can you predict them? What are the factors influencing job satisfaction rates during the pandemic? How do you make sure your employees are satisfied despite the COVID-19 situation? Fret not, we’ve analyzed and listed typical reasons influencing job satisfaction rates of your workers during the pandemic. So, let’s dive in.
Job satisfaction and the importance of employee engagement
To make sure that we’re on the same page, let’s start with the definition. Job satisfaction means how good your employees feel about their daily tasks, working conditions, your company in general, and their colleagues. Unfortunately, some business owners tend to underestimate the importance of happiness at work and rely on the carrot and stick policy. But the truth is that they ignore the royal road to higher employee engagement during the pandemic, loyalty, and better performance.
You can achieve this through extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, where the former includes:
- Fair payment
- Insurance and bonuses
- Favorable working conditions
- Comfortable office environment
- Good relationships with colleagues
Your employee may be weary of their everyday work, but a good wage and a flexible schedule help them remain content.
Meanwhile, intrinsic motivation results from the correlation between an employee’s personal goals and values and their day-to-day routine. These components are less concrete but equally as crucial as extrinsic ones. Let us name them below:
- Job expectations vs. reality
- The sense of meaningfulness of the job performed
- Personal interest and enjoyment
- Work-life balance, and more
So, why do you need them? Well, if you manage to cover these needs, your workers will be more proactive, productive, and loyal. Correspondingly, if an employee’s job doesn’t align with their values, they will likely leave it regardless of the conditions, benefits, or salary.
Staff happiness at workplace sites is hard to achieve without addressing both extrinsic and intrinsic factors, especially during the COVID-19 outburst. Which ones specifically? Let’s see.
Factors that have affected job satisfaction during COVID-19
Some of the following concerns are not related to the pandemic directly but have gained significant importance since its beginning. The lists below are meant to give you general insight into what may be affecting the workforce these days. Meanwhile, we recommend holding opinion polls among your staff to discover urgent issues and address them immediately. Doing so will give you a clearer picture and you will be able to make more relevant and cost-efficient decisions.
Factors that increase job satisfaction
Employers who care about their workers’ satisfaction rates know the importance of support, motivation, and flexibility. This is especially true during the pandemic.
- Sense of accomplishment is essential for an individual’s psychological well-being. Employers who actively recognize professional achievements of their workers, motivate them to upskill, and give constructive feedback cultivate employees’ feeling of earned success and progress. This is essential for employee engagement during COVID-related lockdowns when many people feel that their lives were put on hold in both personal and professional spheres.
- Calm optimism of the company’s leadership is crucial during the pandemic. Few things can be as demotivating as the helplessness of those in command: workers often expect that as a leader, you see a fuller picture and have a plan. Management teams who have a realistic understanding of the COVID-19 challenges and develop efficient measures of overcoming them tend to boost their staff morale and contentedness.
- Efficient health insurance programs are an essential factor for older employees who are more vulnerable to the virus. Businesses that care about staff mental and physical well-being provide good health coverage and enjoy higher job satisfaction rates.
- Hybrid work models should be available for those who do not enjoy remote work. Even before the global pandemic, in 2019, 61 percent of Americans were feeling lonely at work. Current employment trends are not helping and due to telecommuting, many employees acknowledge loneliness and a lack of communication to be their primary concerns. On the other hand, they would not be happy to be back at work in their offices, especially if you force them to. In fact, 52 percent of employees would prefer a hybrid approach when they can work both remotely and on-site. Freedom of choice makes people feel more in control and thus more content with their job.
- Work-life balance gains new significance. Remote work alone does not correlate with higher job satisfaction, but it helps employees fit jobs into their personal lives better (not the other way around). When an employee sees that you care about their individual needs, they feel more satisfied with their job. Family time off, short-term disability insurance, employee assistance programs, counseling services, or flexible schedules are examples of such care.
Factors that decrease job satisfaction
One of the main problems caused by the pandemic is constant anxiety due to the instability of the situation. Under such circumstances, we recommend you avoid subjecting your employees to additional strain and uncertainty.
- Excessive workloads are a direct way to job resentment. Some employees might have lost a relative or a friend. Meanwhile, others might be exhausted by uncertainty, loss of a sense of normalcy, aggravated stress, and the like. Maintaining balance is key: in 2021 alone, 4 out of 10 workers reported having anxiety symptoms, compared to 1 out of 10 in 2019. Under such circumstances, companies that do not understand the importance of employee engagement are skating on thin ice. By setting excessive workloads and unrealistic deadlines they increase their employee turnover rates dramatically.
- The lack of organizational communication from leadership about COVID-related plans and measures puts employees at a 2.9 times higher probability of developing burnout. The same research shows that 49 percent of all employees feel “somewhat” burnt out already, and we don’t need to remind you how it can impact your job satisfaction rating.
- Fear of contracting COVID-19 at work is a great restraining factor during the pandemic. Some jobs cannot be performed remotely, but when you must go to a place where you can catch a deadly disease every day, your happiness at work drops, naturally. This is especially true for occupations involving personal communication and interaction with other people.
- Stigmatization of sick leave should stop. American work culture expects an individual to go above and beyond in doing the job they are paid for. In some companies, this can lead to stigmatization around sick leave and the demand for presenteeism. However, managers might want to reconsider their approach. Research shows that by forcing people to work when they are sick, employers lose $226 million annually due to reduced performance, excessive stress, and other issues caused by poor health.
- Feeling insecure about job position and/or salary due to COVID-19 is a substantial yet understandable factor. Mass layoffs, economic recession, and the heavy unemployment such as the 13 percent in May 2020 make people nervous.
As you can see, many stressful thoughts are going through the minds of your employees every day. So, is there anything you can do?
How can you improve employee job satisfaction?
By proactively addressing your workers’ extrinsic and intrinsic needs, you can help them feel happiness at workplace sites during these trying times. Here are some ideas on how you can achieve this.
- Supportive management and regular check-ins help managers kill several birds with one stone by:
- Assessing employees’ morale, productivity, and progress more accurately
- Setting more specific and relevant goals
- Providing more consistent feedback and support
This can boost your employees’ sense of accomplishment and progression, making their daily tasks more meaningful and satisfying.
- A safe hybrid work environment is important. In fact, 82 percent of survey respondents would like to have remote work options and companies shouldn’t ignore that. You can organize safe working conditions for those employees who prefer to go to the office and virtual offices for those who prefer telecommuting. Develop strict safety rules and preventive measures and make sure they are communicated, followed, and supervised.
- Regular communication on how business is doing can help people feel more secure. Share your insights into the situation with staff and speak openly about leadership intentions regarding the pandemic.
- Training and development opportunities are essential for cultivating a sense of direction and personal progress. The introduction of various personal and professional development programs will improve your employees’ experience, increase their morale and job satisfaction.
- Psychological and financial support in case of emergencies is your direct way to support employees fighting the virus or dealing with the loss of their loved ones. Helping them get through difficult times will make your employees feel that they can count on you through thick and thin.
The global pandemic has been challenging for both business owners and employees. Fair compensation and good health coverage are already not enough to maintain workers’ happiness at work in 2021. Today, you need to consider more abstract but equally important factors. Cultivating a sense of progress and accomplishment, optimistic communication paired with effective anti-COVID measures, a hybrid work model, and better work-life balance – these are just some of the ways to support your employees. On the other hand, if you want to help your employees avoid additional stress, you might want to avoid excessive workloads, reticence, and presenteeism.
If you already have too much on your plate and your staff is overloaded with work, you don’t have to deal with this alone. Be it software development, intelligent automation, data analytics, or cloud computing, we at TEAM International know how to help you adapt and scale despite the global crisis. Contact us today to book a free consultation with our experts.