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"With one of the usual employee surveys, we would not have been able to gain nearly as much insight as we did through the values survey." 

Jörg Monsig (Plant Manager Lang Metallwarenproduktion - Neubrandenburg GmbH) 

If you look at the countless studies on employee satisfaction, you always come across the same questions, which usually have to be answered on a rating scale or with smileys: 

  • "How are you feeling this week?" 
  • "How likely are you to recommend your employer to others?" 
  • "Do you find your work satisfying?" 

Such questions are not useless, but they merely "scratch the surface" without providing usable indications for the causes of possible dissatisfaction. Thus, they do not offer any starting points for the targeted improvement of employee satisfaction. Therefore, they can be useful as an introduction or supplement to a survey, but they do not replace cause-related surveys.  

Factors of employee satisfaction 

The Employee satisfaction is primarily determined by two factors: 

  • Need-based capacity to act: Are employees deployed according to their competences so that they find their tasks challenging but not over-demanding, and certainly not under-demanding? 
  • Team-oriented attitude: Does the attitude of the employees match the values or culture of the own team or organisation? 

Therefore, in order to assess employee satisfaction, it is necessary to record both competences as the ability to cope with challenges in a self-organised way and values as the folder of self-organised action. 

Recording the satisfaction of the teams 

Prerequisite For the cause-related recording of employee satisfaction, it is important that the Actual and desired values The results are recorded in the team in order to Target values and to derive suitable measures for the targeted development of team values in practice. This also makes it possible not only to find out how satisfied the team members are with their working environment and the organisational culture they experience, but also to compare the individual values with the starting points for analysing deviations and thus the causes of any dissatisfaction on the part of individual employees.  

If we use our scientifically based and proven value model ValCom® by Erpenbeck, Sauter and Sauter (2019) as a basis, the depth and cause orientation of the Satisfaction analysis of the employees clearly: 

Enjoyment values 

  • Creativity: Are they satisfied with the freedom they have to express and develop their creativity, ideas or design skills? 
  • Health: Are employees satisfied with the opportunities to stay healthy and fit through physical and mental balance? 
  • Education: Are employees satisfied with the opportunities to actively expand their knowledge and skills? 
  • Individual freedom: Do employees get the leeway they want or need? 

Utility values 

  • Standard of living: Is the standard of living of the employees satisfactory from their point of view?   
  • Security: Do employees feel that their material and professional security needs are being met? 
  • Recognition: Do the employees feel that performance pays off for them? 
  • Public Benefit: Do employees feel that the value they create benefits the team and the organisation? 

Ethical values 

  • Private life: Do employees feel that their private concerns are sufficiently taken into account? 
  • Ideals: Can employees pursue their ideals, e.g. sustainable management, in the work process? 
  • Responsibility: Can the employees act responsibly? 
  • Respect: Do the employees meet their colleagues and managers at eye level and do they support each other?  

Social values 

  • Relationships: Do the employees experience a working atmosphere that is characterised by friendly to amicable relationships? 
  • Influence: Can employees contribute to the positive image and impact of their team and the organisation as desired? 
  • Norm and law: Do the employees know law and order internally and externally to a sufficient degree and can they act in accordance with the law? 
  • Network: Can employees build networks internally and externally? 

Analysis and evaluation of employee satisfaction 

The questionnaires can be made organisation-specific by formulating individual examples of values. Graphical and verbal results and development recommendations can be derived from this, as exemplified here: 

Zufriedenheit der Mitarbeitenden

In this example, the team as a whole is highly satisfied with the utility values of standard of living, security and recognition because actual and desired values match. On the other hand, the values Education, Health and Responsibility significant deviations between actual and desired.

Therefore, these results should be analysed and evaluated in a team workshop with the manager. Concrete development measures could be derived from this, e.g.

  • Education: Agreement on practical projects in which selected values and competences of the team are specifically developed
  • Health: Developing and implementing proposals to expand health-promoting measures, e.g. through sporting activities, ergonomically designed workplaces or agreements on optimising the work-life balance.
  • Responsibility: Transferring responsible tasks to the team, e.g. the joint conception and implementation of a new learning concept in the team

Furthermore, we recommend that, on this basis and taking into account strategic requirements and the framework conditions, a Target value profile for the team The aim is to develop a set of values that provides orientation in comparison to the individual value profiles. 

Cause-related development of employee satisfaction

At the employee level, the following measures are possible for recording and developing satisfaction:

  • The functional competency assessment is the necessary prerequisite for ensuring the ability to act according to needs, so that employees can be deployed according to their respective ability to act.
  • The individual competences of the employees are recorded, possibly in conjunction with an external assessment, and compared with the Target profile for the respective function compared. In a counselling interview, the individual competence profile can be analysed and evaluated. As a rule, there will be deviations between the actual and the target, which can be individual development measures can be reduced in consultation with the manager. If it turns out that the deviations are very deep, it must be examined whether the employee can be given a another task should take on to be more useful to the team or organisation.
  • The Recording the value expressions of the individuals shows which folders of self-organised action deviate from the current team values (actual) and the target values and in which areas there is agreement. This clearly shows whether the employee "fits" into the team or which values he/she should specifically develop in order to be able to fit into the team culture.

With this approach of targeted value and competence development, it becomes possible to record and develop employee satisfaction in a targeted manner under economic conditions.

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