The Connection Between Satisfaction and Results
By: Ashish Gambhir

It’s the mythical workspace: fun, productive, and complete with a fully stocked beer fridge. It’s also a reality that millennial employees increasingly expect and demand. Evidence shows that there’s method to the office happy hour and pool table madness: employee satisfaction positively correlates to business performance, and leaders who only emphasize the latter often end up underperforming in both.

Leaders who combine people skills and business results tend to be younger and to have more direct contact with lower-level employees. Leaders who are under 30 years of age are two to three times as likely to be effective at both results and engagement than their older compatriots. This finding indicates that the younger generation of workers understands and contributes to the connection between satisfaction and results.

Younger leaders have different priorities than their peers

There also emerges an age-related disconnect in priorities, as after age 40, only 10% of leaders in any age group do both things well. To remedy this disconnect, and maintain the balance between satisfaction and results, younger employees must be able to communicate with their older higher-ups.

Further, the Harvard Business Review found that supervisors are twice as likely to be rated highly on both their business results and their employee satisfaction than their senior managers. Those closest to frontline employees appreciate the relationship between people skills and results, and businesses could achieve greater coherence if more senior managers shared their appreciation.

Strategies for improvement

Business leaders should seek to disassemble the one-way mirror wherein higher-ups can observe their subordinates, while supervisors and frontline line workers have little transparency or lines of communication in the upward direction. Businesses with uncommunicative hierarchies are less likely to establish a consensus on shared priorities, and the ensuing disconnect creates internal confusion.

Dom Nicastro, in a conference recap post for CMSWire, writes that “Employees want to be engaged and inspired. But they don’t have the workplace environments to do so.” Senior leaders must listen to their employees to improve engagement, whether that means dealing with lazy managers or employing new technologies.”Employees want to be engaged and inspired. But they don’t have the workplace environments to do so.”

Gamification, whereby employees can experience their everyday successes through the prism of a rewarding game, is just the sort of innovative technology businesses can employ to solidify the symbiosis between business results and employee satisfaction. The productivity app Todoist is one exciting example: it gives the user positive karma points for completing tasks, and negative points for putting them off.

Employee engagement remains crucial to business success: Aon Hewitt research shows that a 5-point increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3-point increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year. If businesses cultivate the relationship between satisfaction and results, engagement will follow.

The idea that that the most successful workplace is the most grueling and cutthroat workplace is increasingly antiquated and counterproductive. Business leaders who want to boost their numbers should not necessarily look to more demanding managers, stricter regulations, or tepid monetary incentives; they might instead listen to their frontline employees, and together realize a future in which business results are evaluated alongside employee experience—the two should not be considered independently.