The most significant thing about this job dissatisfaction survey is that it is a dramatic example of how short employees' memories are and how important it is for employers to remember that. This time last year when the entire American workforce was losing sleep over losing jobs, those who successfully sidestepped a pink slip were incredibly grateful for the jobs they had. A mere 12 months later, just having a job is not enough to keep employees satisfied.
It would be simple to think that the current dissatisfaction level of American workers is due to paycuts, furloughs, reduced benefits, and being stuck without any opportunity for movement either up or out. But the truth of the matter, according to the Conference Board, is that the satisfaction of the American worker has been on a steady decline for a couple of decades.
So what? What difference does it make if employees in 1987 were considerably more satisfied than employees in 2010?
Intuitively it seems logical that you can't get the best of anything from a person who is in a chronic state of dissatisfaction. But without quantified proof that something as intangible as "satisfaction" can have tangible business results, most employers can't be convinced that the time, energy, and money spent on improving workplace satisfaction is time, energy, and money well spent. This is particularly difficult in the retail industry where every aspect of business is reduced to a number, measurement, or ranking.
Proving that there is an ROI
for employee satisfaction programs is a chronic challenge for every HR professional and management consultant in America. It's getting easier, however, to find compelling evidence that makes it hard to ignore how vital employee satisfaction really is.
The most compelling research came recently from a Wharton business school study which found that a portfolio of the Fortune "Best Companies to Work For" organizations from 1998 to 2005 earned double the returns of the stock market as a whole. In short, the employees in the best workplaces created better stock returns.
Much has changed between 2005 and 2009 and it would be important to know if the best workplaces had a competitive advantage during recession and economic crisis. Here's how being one of the "Best Retail Companies to Work For"
paid off in the recessionary year of 2009:
+15.4% - DJIA change in 2009
+41.3% - S&P Retail Index change in 2009
+116.8% - Retail "Best Companies to Work For" average stock price change in 2009
For an industry that loves numbers as much as the retail industry, I don't think there is much more that needs to be said about why employee satisfaction should be high on the retail executive To Do list in 2010.
It is worth noting that more than half of the retail companies on the 2010 "Best Companies to Work For" list are not publicly traded retail companies
. This suggests that private retail companies
understand the value of the contributions that a happy, loyal workforce can make towards success. It also suggests that publicly traded retail companies might be focused on profits to the point that they are forgetting who generates those profits.
One more retail company that helps make the case for the value of employee satisfaction is... more>