The C-Suite’s Role in Employee Satisfaction
A guest post written by Simon Clark. Simon is a tech and business writer from Seattle and a contributor to Enlightened Digital.
It’s a widely recognized fact that employees are a business’ most valuable asset. When people are happy in their careers, their roles, and know their value, the employee and the business are better off. Establishing this level of satisfaction among a workforce is the responsibility of more than just the employees themselves, but rather, a group effort, starting at the top with the c-suite. The misconception that C-level leadership is too far removed from their employees to make any impact on their satisfaction is being disputed. An increasing number of modern businesses are creating more inclusive cultures with greater emphasis on employee engagement. Here we’re taking a deeper look at the role the c-suite, specifically, plays in employee satisfaction.
Its human nature for employees to look to authority to determine the tone and expectations of their work environment. Particularly when first starting at a job, new hires want to fit in with their surroundings and therefore look to colleagues for guidance. Consequently, employee engagement is started by leadership, as people rely on them to establish an organization’s culture.
The C-suite is responsible for setting the office tone and, ideally, creating a culture that fosters positive communication, team collaboration, and a healthy work-life balance. From a business perspective, establishing an office culture that employees are proud of and enjoy working in contributes to achieving success, as engaged employees are statistically more productive and motivated in their roles. Former Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam best phrased this concept when speaking about a lesson he was taught when first starting at Verizon, stating, “The culture would determine the longevity and the success of a company as much as the technology would.” Essentially, employees are a business’s most valuable asset, so it’s in the best interest of leadership to invest in them.
The trickle-down effect in the workplace begins at the very top with C-level executives. The level of engagement they cultivate, the motivational markers they create, and the clear direction they provide have a significant impact on how those below them function within the business. For example, managers who are directly supervised by highly-engaged executive teams are likely to be more engaged themselves than those supervised by an executive team with below-average engagement. While it may not seem that a CEO’s management style directly impacts how middle managers operate, it’s up to top-level leadership to set a positive example.
A clear, cohesive understanding of a company’s culture, vision and mission is essential for creating a unified workforce with proper direction and motivation. CEOs are responsible for developing, communicating, and enforcing a clear definition of success and how it is achieved company-wide and ensuring actions are being taken to allow each team member ownership of their unique role in achieving that definition.
Encouraging open channels of communication across department levels makes employees feel their opinions and ideas are being heard, rather than feeling intimidated or out of place when speaking with an authority figure. Top-level executives should partake in regular interactions with employees through whichever method or platform is best for gaining trust and candid feedback. Open communication provides all parties with a wider perspective on different viewpoints and standings within a company. Recurring group meetings or open “office-hours” can provide individuals an opportunity for more direct discussions around company-wide goals and initiatives, as well as space to voice any concerns or feedback employees may want to share. Standardized feedback systems are also an option for leaders of larger corporations who may not be capable of individually interacting with every employee.
Aside from culture itself, one of the leading qualifications for candidates looking for jobs is development and the opportunity for growth. Upper management should work to foster a business strategy that facilitates growth opportunities and recognizes individuals’ accomplishments when appropriate. People want to feel they’re more than just a paycheck to their employers and that reassurance plays a major role in an employee’s level of satisfaction in their job. Leaders should remind individuals they’re paying attention and appreciative of their hard work and show them how their work contributes to the greater mission of the company. Encouraging individuals to take ownership of the tasks, organizing mentorship programs, and offering recognition to successes are all simple and effective ways to improve employee satisfaction and investment in growing with a company.
In today’s highly competitive job market, maintaining a positive and motivated workforce is vital to an organization’s success. Modern C-suite teams will need to own their part in creating rewarding and high-performing workplaces that retain and keep best-in-class talent from their competition.