Leadership Qualities

How to Increase Your Employees' Satisfaction Without Giving Them a Raise

It's not just about the money.
How to Increase Your Employees' Satisfaction Without Giving Them a Raise
Image credit: Sawitree Pamee | EyeEm | Getty Images
Guest Writer
CMO of Medly
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's a common misconception that money is the main driver of employee satisfaction. It is, after all, a fairly reliable measure of how much a company values its employees. Naturally, employers would think that a pay raise is the best way to boost employee productivity. They're often confused when that turns out not to be true and surprised to learn that the secret to improving productivity isn't more money at all.

The fact is that a productive business takes more than well-paid employees; it takes happy employees. For those surveyed in a 2014 TINYpulse poll, responders said that peers -- not money -- are the number one influence on workplace satisfaction and the drive to go the extra mile. Therefore, employers should look beyond salaries and seriously evaluate their company culture and leadership styles to focus more on their employees' true satisfaction.

With these five tips, employers can take a significant step toward changing their company culture for the better.

Related: 50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

1. Create opportunities for connection. 

Personally interacting with your employees in the workplace is perhaps the most important factor in good leadership. Attend brainstorming sessions, go out to lunch with team members and maintain an open-door policy so employees can drop in to say hello or tell you if they need anything.

This cultivates an atmosphere of collegiality throughout the office and clears the way for you to help employees in their personal lives when appropriate. Zeynep Ilgaz, president of Confirm Biosciences, says putting people over profit is one of the core values of her company. "The more [employees] grow their own unique personal capabilities," she says, "the more they can bring to the professional table."

Related: 4 Ways to Use a 'Social Mindset' and Boost Employee Engagement

2. Build a trusting feedback mechanism. 

Feedback is a great way to communicate about the company or team issues that need improvement. 65 percent of employees said in an Officevibe survey that they want more of it. However, many managers don't provide enough guidance or only offer vague, negative comments that are more insulting than constructive.

Nagging employees about their faults isn't productive for your business or helpful for fostering relationships between you and your team members. Yet it's equally counterproductive to waste an employee's time and the company's resources by allowing the employee to continue making the same mistakes without proper feedback.

Related: Inspirational Quotes From 100 Famous Business Leaders (Infographic)

3. Don't micromanage. 

Micromanaging is one of the more common and least effective ways of managing employees. While you don't want to leave your employees without needed direction, no one likes being constantly told what to do or having his or her every move critically analyzed and judged. Instead of micromanaging your team's work, facilitate it by providing necessary resources and being a resource.

All mistakes provide an opportunity for growth and improvement, but only if the lesson is learned. Such lessons get lost in frustration when employees feel micromanaged. If you have experts on your team, then it's even more important to stay out of their way and allow them to make the decisions they need to make.

Related: You Can Motivate Your Employees Without Creating a Hyper-Competitive Culture

4. Encourage office friendships. 

Not everyone makes friends easily, so it's often up to managers and team leaders to create an environment in which office friendships can flourish. To build stronger personal and business relationships, try to learn at least one important personal thing about each of your employees, especially what motivates them.

Knowing more about someone creates a more transparent relationship, which fosters trust. You can grow that trust by helping employees make connections with each other through off-site team-building activities. Hold a group dinner that will allow everyone to socialize, or organize an outing to a trampoline park like Rockin' Jump, an escape room like those at Room Escape Adventures or a grown-up arcade like Dave & Buster's. Better yet, have employees vote on an activity to do together every month.

Related: 4 Ways Managers Can Commit to Improving Employee Engagement

5. Give credit away. 

Being a good leader often means doing things that seem counterintuitive but are necessary for the good of the team. Giving away the credit for positive results is one of those things.

On one hand, helping others succeed helps you succeed, and the company as a whole prospers. On the other hand, that level of selflessness can be difficult to muster! Yet it encourages the initiative taking that is vital for innovation. Giving others credit is a cornerstone of good leadership, and the satisfaction that employees gain from working with such a selfless leader will drive them to be more productive than ever.

As that TINYpulse study shows, the saying "Money can't buy happiness" holds true for today's workforce. Competitive wages are important for employees to live comfortably. But to feel truly satisfied with what they do and whom they work for, they also need to know their employers and coworkers care about each other.

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