Imagine an organisation where employees feel a sense of belonging to the extent that they go beyond the usual requirements of their jobs to ensure the success of the organisation. This is the ultimate goal most organisations want to reach but it can be quite an ambiguous and confusing process. The journey towards reaching full employee engagement and satisfaction is a lengthy and continuous one due to the ever-changing nature of the world of work and human beings in general.

Finding a balance between organisational and employee demands is a step towards employee satisfaction. A one-way focused approach on organisational needs and demands paves the way to a much lower level of employee satisfaction. A holistic focus on productivity and employee wellbeing is necessary for employees to feel that sense of value and appreciation from the organisation. It is important for managers to take the time to get to know their subordinates in order to understand what really motivates them. Sometimes it takes a simple “thank you for a job well done” to completely change an employees’ attitude towards their job. Clearly communicating, acknowledging and rewarding an employee’s efforts is a step in the right direction. Managers need to move away from the “everyone is replaceable“ mentality and realise that they can have the same level of authority with their subordinates while also maintaining a healthy working relationship with them.

Finding the best fit between an employee and the job is the core foundation that HR managers need to build upon. Ensuring that a job aligns with an individual’s personality, interests and goals allows employees to feel like they are on the right path in terms of their career development and growth. When employees see the bigger vision and direction, they dedicate more time and effort to what they do. Recruiters need to ask the relevant questions during the interview phase to determine culture fit, career aspirations and the type of working environment the individual would thrive in. For employees who are already part of the organisation, job rotation might be one way to find alignment between the individual and the job. Job rotation allows the manager to assess an employee’s strengths and weaknesses in different areas of their job, therefore, making it easier to place an employee in a position where they would excel.

Due to advancements in technology, replacing redundant ways of doing things has become the norm but it is also important to take into consideration that not all employees will welcome change with open arms. There are some people that are resistant to change and if change is not introduced in a clear manner, employees might lose interest in their jobs. A detailed analysis of the change needs to be conducted. Finding out how the change aligns to future organisational goals and how it would benefit the organisation’s employees are some of the factors that need to be considered and communicated. Once this is done, an action plan needs to be put in place before change can be deployed. Another important part of managing change is reinforcing that change and ensuring that you obtain continuous feedback to analyse whether employees are able to adapt to the change.

Employers need to find ways of creating an environment that is conducive enough for employees to reach their full potential. They need to be more open to giving employees opportunities and a bit more autonomy. Letting employees find the best way of doing their job is a much better alternative than telling them how to do it. A sense of trust makes employees feel more valued.

Having clear values and living by them is another element that will help to improve the level of employee engagement and job satisfaction. Organisations need to realise that values are best described and communicated through actions. In order for employees to commit to an organisation’s culture, values and mission, they need to see it first and only then will they start believing it.

So, what does this mean for employees?

Employees also play a great role in reaching their own job satisfaction. A perspective shift is required on the side of the employee. For example, some people believe that working for an organisation is like fulfilling the dreams of someone else and will therefore not put in much effort.

It could be said that employee engagement is reached at the point where an employee’s passion (in the form of their job) meets their purpose (what an individual feels or believes motivates them in their job).

As an employee, taking time to know yourself aids the process towards job satisfaction. Reaching your full potential requires change, which can be uncomfortable and emotionally taxing at times but the results are worth it. Some change will require you to change the way you do your job or simply changing your attitude towards your job and the organisation you work for. Continuing to find new ways of doing or simplifying your job could be a start.

Reaching a level of satisfaction on both sides requires responsibility, commitment and effort from both the employee and employer. Even though there are no definite steps to reaching employee job satisfaction and engagement, it is very important for organisations to get an understanding of their employees and vice versa in order to alleviate the negative effects resulting from job dissatisfaction.

Shanelle Mdaka

HR Assistant, Johannesburg

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