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Employees Are Still Dissatisfied -- Here's What You Can Do About It

It's going to take a lot more than nap pods and game rooms to satisfy today's employees.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Over the last couple of years, business leaders have begun to focus increasingly on employee happiness. Think of the Googles and Facebooks of the world that have attracted wide attention for their impressive office perks, from napping pods, to campus cafes, to game rooms.

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If we’re all taking notes from these big-name companies, employees shouldn’t have anything to complain about . . . right?

Related: Seven Ways to Boost Employee Morale

Unfortunately, there are still areas where employees feel their leaders are slacking. In fact, according to The Conference Board report, Job Satisfaction 2017 Edition: More Opportunity and Satisfaction in a Tighter Labor Market, employees rank promotion policies and the performance-review process as two of the five components they’re least satisfied with at work.

As most business leaders already know, any type of employee dissatisfaction leads to lowered morale and retention issues and will inevitably hurt the company’s bottom line. However, when team members aren’t happy with how they’re being promoted or reviewed, the severity of how that unhappiness could hurt the company is heightened.

This is especially true when it comes to two of the most important employee factors: motivation and alignment with company values.

To truly give employees what they want, leaders would be well advised to put the fancy perks aside and focus on what’s really important to employees -- their careers. Here’s where to start:

Create a "holacracy."

When promotion policies become an issue, that's due largely to job description details, office politics and inattention to the need to update organizational structure. When employees feel they’re doing someone else’s work, or that undeserving co-workers are being promoted, trust in leadership and motivation go out the window.

Related: 6 Best Practices for Managing Unhappy Employees

That’s why holacracy, a term made popular by online shoe retailer Zappos, is a better solution to the traditional company structure. So, what is holacracy?

According to, the term refers to a comprehensive practice for structuring, governing and running an organization. It replaces today’s top-down, predict-and-control paradigm with a new way of achieving control by distributing power. It's a new “operating system” that instills rapid evolution in the core processes of an organization.

This new operating system has helped Zappos create a city-like structure, giving employees the opportunity to work more like self-directed entrepreneurs. This shows employees that each of them is responsible for the company as a whole -- not just those higher up on the hierarchical chain.

To do the same at your company, distribute authority throughout the organization. Give each team a purpose, but then charge employees to decide the best way to achieve it.

Having smaller decision-making teams will replace the need for a traditional hierarchy full of employees hoping to get promoted, just to make a difference in the company. With holacracy, everyone is interconnected and in control of the company’s future.

Offer pay transparency.

Pay transparency has received varying reviews over the last few years. While some view it as unethical, others are diving in head first. Social media management company Buffer, for example, cracked its own pay scale wide open by offering salary information not just to its employees, but to the entire world, via its website.

Of course, posting every employee’s salary on the company website for anyone and everyone’s viewing pleasure may not work for every company’s culture. While salary remains a tough talking point for many, opening up about the subject will help business leaders with employees who are unhappy about your company's promotional policies.

Thanks to rumors of others getting paid more or being promoted for unknown reasons, company culture and morale are factors frequently out of leaders’ control. But with pay transparency, leaders can help put out wildfire rumors and show employees exactly how to hit their pay and promotional goals.

Start by creating a detailed list of each position's’ starting salary. Then explain what goals or mile markers each role needs to hit before the person in that role is promoted in both pay and status. Having these visible checkpoints will allow employees to see exactly who is being moved up and why, and how they themselves can do the same.

Personalize your review process.

Let’s face it: Not every employee will be happy with the same review process. Different personality types and work styles require different management and review styles.

Some employees may prefer a more frequent and hands-on review process, while others may be satisfied meeting only once a quarter or month. This makes it challenging for business leaders to know exactly what review process will work for their entire team.

What we do know is that 89 percent of employees will choose to work on personal interests/things that impact society, according to the ADP report, The Evolution of Work -- The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace. This means that employees aren’t looking for handouts or pats on the back; they want to truly make a difference through their careers.

Related: How Salary Transparency Empowers Employees -- and When Not to Use It

So, use this knowledge in your review process. By personalizing reviews based on employees’ missions and work processes, employers can show they’re interested in more than the company’s bottom line. Offer these reviews in real time to get fully involved in furthering all employees' goals, helping them be more hands-on in their impact on the company, customers and society as a whole.

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