4 sure-fire ways to boost employee satisfaction

One small employer, a golf course in Arizona, has crafted a protocol for boosting morale, which permeates to customers. Here’s how your organization can bring staff engagement to the fore.

The role of human resources has shifted dramatically.

When I began working in HR, my job was to make sure the company was in compliance. My tasks included payroll processing, recruiting and benefits administration, but in recent years employee satisfaction has become one of our company’s “four key results” and one of my main job functions.

When owner Susan Hladky took over Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in 2011, one of the first things she did was spend time working in each department to fully understand how the club operated, and what each staff member needed in order to be successful. From there, she and club GM Mark Gurnow began working with the HR and management teams to develop a robust employee satisfaction program.

Hladky and Gurnow have given as much weight and attention to employee satisfaction as to member satisfaction, and our club has incorporated several successful internal initiatives that can be employed across a variety of industries. These programs fall into four main categories: perks, appreciation, recognition and communication.

1. Perks

With a professional background in recruiting, I’ve seen firsthand how much employees value company perks. A few of our offerings, such golf privileges on the club’s two private courses, might seem obvious, but we go beyond that. Our 410(k) program matches contributions dollar for dollar, up to 5 percent of salary. We also provide healthy lunch options, employee and member referral bonus programs and every Thanksgiving each staff member is given a gift card for a turkey.

2. Appreciation

Showing appreciation for the staff’s hard work and making sure they know their dedication is valued is an important factor in employee satisfaction. In the past few years, we have initiated several annual employee events, such as:

  • Family day at a local waterpark
  • Employee holiday party
  • Employee golf tournament

Participation in our tournament increased by 13 percent the second year it was held, and we found that even those staff members who had never swung a golf club wanted to get in on the fun. Teams mix together staffers from different departments.

Our golf pros are on hand to provide a little help—or, in my case, a lot of help. Club vendors, members and local businesses donate food, prizes and tee gifts to make the tournament extra special for the staff.

3. Recognition

Not only do people want to feel appreciated, but it’s important to recognize their great work. At Superstition Mountain we have started “Employee of the Quarter” and “Employee of the Year” awards. Staff members are nominated by peers, and winners are selected by management teams.

The “Employee of the Quarter” receives eight hours of paid time off (PTO), an award certificate, formal recognition in front of staff and club members and a dedicated parking spot with a name plaque. The “Employee of the Year” receives an additional 40 hours of PTO.

4. Communication

Frequent, open communication is essential to maintaining employee satisfaction. We keep staff up to date on club news, upcoming events, employee recognition, photos and more through a dedicated staff website and monthly employee newsletter.

Employee feedback is as important as outbound communication, and our Employee Advisory Council has seen great success. Composed of staff members from each department, the council meets quarterly to discuss ideas for employee initiatives and how communication and staff satisfaction could be improved. The most important outcome of this initiative is that our leadership regularly implements programs based on the council’s recommendations.

Choosing the right metrics

How do you know whether your employee satisfaction plan is working? You keep score.

For the past three years we have conducted employee surveys to measure the results of these initiatives, using a scale of 1–5, with 5 being the best. Highlights include:

  • “I am proud to work for our club”: 4.72 average response—a 3 percent increase in three years
  • “I believe our club deserves my loyalty”: 4.66 average response—3 percent increase in three years
  • “I feel that I am a valued and appreciated staff member”: 4.33 average response—9 percent increase in three years

Overall satisfaction has increased by 4 percent, and the member satisfaction score has also risen steadily.

“Our member experience starts, at its very core, with each and every employee,” Gurnow says. “If we aren’t providing a positive work environment and engaging our staff, it will have a negative impact on our club as a whole.”

All good business owners know that happy employees make a company better, though they might not have a formal program in place to ensure that happens. The tips above can help you start and evaluate your own program.

Jennifer Morrissey is the human resources manager at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in Arizona. A version of this article originally appeared on TLNT.

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