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Boosting Employee Satisfaction Is About More Than Free Coffee

December 4th, 2019   ||    by Oriana Schwindt

What does it take to keep your employees happy and productive? Adweek reported that ad agencies still see turnover rates of 30 percent, thanks to high employee dissatisfaction. Even the wildly creative and interesting offices that usually house these agencies don’t seem to solve this problem. Boosting employee satisfaction, then, means a lot more than free cold brew and bean bag chairs.

Millennials, in particular, are more likely to feel disengaged from their work: only 29 percent of millennials are engaged at work, according to Gallup. This makes the other 71 percent ripe for turnover. So, how do agencies prevent that turnover?

Here are three ways of boosting employee satisfaction—none of which involve bean bag chairs.

1. Fix Your Culture

Culture starts at the top, and if your management is still stuck in a Mad Men mindset, that’s a problem.

Even calling it “employee satisfaction” is a relic of a bygone era. As the Gallup article stated, “Their elders may be satisfied (though satisfaction is a poor workplace metric) with a mediocre job, but millennials are not.”

What matters to modern employees is engagement. One of the biggest factors that influences employee engagement is a sense of purpose, rather than satisfaction, according to talent acquisition firm Vermeulen Group. This purpose needs to be baked into your company’s culture.

When you do base your culture on a particular shared purpose, you end up with a company like Nike.

In order to be properly engaged in their work, employees need a workplace culture that offers them a sense of purpose and room to grow.

2. Offer Room to Grow

This can be difficult in organizations that have a fairly rigid structure. There’s no reason for ad agencies to limit themselves, though.

Elliot Schimel, CEO of Mission Control Marketing, tackled the issue in Forbes. Schimel has taken the bold step of mandating 50 hours of professional development per year for his entry- and mid-level employees.

That’s a relatively small amount of the total hours these employees are working, but it clearly communicates to them that their professional growth is a priority for the company. Knowing their employer cares about their future builds a sense of loyalty, which is crucial to reducing turnover.

3. Give Your Employees Time for Themselves

Google’s famous “20% rule” gave engineers 20 percent of their week to devote to their own projects—projects not explicitly assigned to them, which may or may not even relate to Google business at all.

The policy isn’t in much use anymore, according to Business Insider. But in the early 2000s, it was responsible for incredible new products like Gmail, according to Mashable.

Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, are increasingly resistant to the mindset that they should attach their identities to their careers or jobs, a mindset that has led to a lot of discussion of burnout, BuzzFeed News reported.

By giving your workers time to work on projects they’re passionate about, regardless of their relevance to your business, you often see an increase in passion for the work itself, according to Fast Company.

Ad agencies shouldn’t be content with just boosting employee satisfaction—they need to give their employees purpose and opportunity.

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