I was meeting a potential new partner and one of the ways I prepared for this meeting was by looking at the company’s values. There they were on the company’s website: integrity, diligence, clarity, joy of work and profitability. Evidently, my subconscious had been contemplating the joy of work as it unintentionally entered our discussions. Despite my slight scepticism, the managing director managed to convince me that the value was genuine and relevant for the company – and their financial results.
For years, we have understood the importance of customer satisfaction in the achievement of success, but job satisfaction has often been much lower on the list of priorities. The results of annual job satisfaction surveys are often left to gather dust.
Fortunately for those of us who work, focusing on staff and staff motivation is a rising trend. For example, one of the main themes at the USA’s biggest retail sector event, NRF Retail´s BIG Show 2017, was “Building Tomorrow’s Workforce”. The round-table discussions established a well-known fact: retaining trained personnel is considerably more profitable than continuous recruitment and training of new staff. So, it is well worth making an effort to ensure the job satisfaction of members of staff.
All investments are subject to input-output analysis. Therefore, we also need information on the efforts invested into staff, such as improvements to work shift planning, training or working conditions, which can tell us how successful these efforts have been – in other words, their effect on job satisfaction and consequently sales. An annual job satisfaction survey is not enough on its own to achieve this. More forward-thinking companies have sought inspiration in the area of customer satisfaction.
For example, Ikea has in several countries started using the well-known HappyOrNot smiley terminals, which are used to rate customer experience, to measure the job satisfaction of its members of staff as well. Smiley terminals located in the staff areas are used to measure the mood at work and level of motivation each day. This up-to-date information on job satisfaction makes it possible to quickly react to any challenges to job satisfaction and thus retain a good atmosphere at work.
These days, analytics makes it possible to utilise continuous information on job satisfaction to comprehensively develop operations. The smiley measurements can be combined with a store’s other important indicators, such as customer satisfaction and sales. For example, developments have been made in the planning of work shifts so that this supports employees’ job satisfaction and business results even better. This has created a positive cycle.
Job satisfaction is a challenging area. It becomes a factor as early as the recruitment stage, and in this age of social media, the failure of a company at this stage could, at worst, affect its brand and customer satisfaction. That’s why I was positively surprised when the Finnish company TalentAdore was selected as one of the top ten most promising start-ups by financial and business magazine Talouselämä. The company’s Virtual Recruitment Assistant uses Artificial Intelligence to provide each applicant with personalised status updates on what is going on in the recruitment process, as well as constructive feedback. According to the company’s Chief Executive, Saku Valkama, “A job applicant is a customer and should be treated like one.” This is so true – especially in the retail sector.
Today, technology and business intelligence offer many opportunities to build and maintain a good work community – to boost joy of work and employer image. Therefore, you should keep an open mind and test the functionality of the existing and future applications – you may even discover some gems.
Published in Kehittyvä Kauppa magazine 3 / 2017