Employee Satisfaction—Why, What, How

Blog Post Breakthrough Results

There are several aspects of one’s job that can influence how much, or how well, an employee is willing to perform. In Daniel Pink’s book, DRIVE, he points to a new paradigm for motivation at work. No longer reliant on perks and financial incentives, Pink asserts that people want their time spent at work to matter in new and more meaningful ways.

Of course, different employees will go above and beyond for different reasons. However, as Dan Pink argues, and I would tend to agree, people want to know their long hours and intellectual effort spent at work have some intrinsic value. Ultimately, people need to know and fulfill three basic needs from a performance basis: WHY, WHAT, HOW.

  1. Autonomy—the WHAT—self-managing, and determining one’s own pathway for achieving results
  2. Mastery—the HOW—gaining competency and growth regarding one’s work, skills, and results
  3. Purpose—the WHY—being up to something bigger than oneself (and a paycheck) –having lasting impact on others and the world

I experienced this firsthand working with a group of hospitals who were part of a larger health system. In the changing environment of healthcare, the ultimate measure of success was patient satisfaction, based on certain metrics being addressed to either avoid penalties or garner rewards. One option—focus solely on patient needs. Makes sense, right? Another option–focus on employee engagement.

Four of five hospitals went to work on adjusting the metrics more favorably to ultimately increase patient satisfaction. Their approach was to focus on processes, systems, structures, and methods. The fifth hospital president, however, focused not on how to reduce the time a patient waited to be seen or how often to avoid patient-acquired infections while hospitalized. Instead, he focused on ensuring his employees felt appreciated, acknowledged, recognized, and were fulfilled and satisfied in their work.

He based his approach on a simple belief – happy employees will naturally do the right thing and take extraordinary care of their patients. This included regular communication with patients so they understood the wait times, and taking extra precautions against infections, etc.

Not surprisingly, his results soared quickly and dramatically, and he has sustained those results for almost a decade.

What will you do to engage your employees and elevate your employee satisfaction? Stay tuned for Part Two.