Like any company trying to be successful over the long haul, we try hard to make sure Tech Soft 3D is a great place to work. We want talented people to enjoy their work and stay part of the team for a long time. We also want those talented people to be happy, because happy people are productive people.
I’ve noticed there are different levels of things you can do to increase employee satisfaction, with the lowest levels being the easiest to achieve with an increasing degree of difficulty as you move up the pyramid.
Here’s how I see it:
Level I: Fair pay. There is always a range of what is “fair” for a particular job. We try to be in the upper half of that fair range. Underpaying leads to serious dissatisfaction, but overpaying doesn’t really increase satisfaction. So we strive for what I call “generously fair.” It’s easy to make compensation a non-issue just by being fair.
Level II: Good work environment. Stock the kitchen with soda and snack food, get a decent coffee maker, make sure everyone’s work tools function well, and provide decent chairs and desks. Making work comfortable shows that you care, and is inexpensive and easy to achieve.
Level III: Work with good people. Strive to hire the best people you can and help the poor performers move to a spot where they can succeed (either within your company or outside of it). People like to work with those they respect, so hire well and monitor the work dynamic closely to know who may be holding the team back.
Level IV: Do cool, challenging stuff. For us, this is pretty easy, since 3D is one of the cooler software development areas. Even in the 3D world, though, you have to actively look for challenges and interesting projects. By doing so, people stay motivated and engaged. However, we all know that some work just needs to be done—whether it’s exciting or not—so managers need to be mindful to mix in the exciting with the simply necessary.
Level V: Connection to the cause. Internally, we talk a lot about our mission, our 5-year vision and our core values. Deep down people want to work toward something more than a paycheck, so the extent to which you can communicate the “higher cause” of the work that is being done, the better. The purpose has to be real, relevant and understandable. This is much easier said than done, but it’s very much worth it to put in the effort here.
Level VI: Quality of Management. I’ve read that the biggest factor in how people feel about their jobs is how good their relationships are with their managers. Does the manager seem to be supportive? Do they care about me? Do they provide me with useful and relevant feedback? Do they make my goals clear? Do they help me understand how my work connects to the “higher purpose”? Are they thinking about my career advancement? This is at once the most important factor and the hardest thing to get right, especially as the company grows and has more managers with varying levels of experience. Certainly, every manager I have ever met is motivated by the right things, but there is a wide variety of skill levels and consequently, a variety of results. Getting better at this is a constant challenge but worth investing in. Even modest levels of improvement can make a big difference to employee satisfaction.
That’s my view on the six levels of customer satisfaction. Did I miss any? Would you put them in the same order of importance?