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Elevating job satisfaction at workplaces

I have a friend of mine, Jason who speaks about the after-effects of positive workplace culture. His former colleagues describe their wonderful experience.

They celebrate good moments and cheer one another during bad times together.

No finger-pointing, no blame game. Everyone is geared towards a common goal regardless of their KPIs. People are much more relational as compared to being transactional.

Needless to say, the firm wins many awards, and secures a healthy book of business. Clients find them absolutely credible, filled with enthusiastic and amazing sales and delivery teams.

Looking back, he feels a sense of nostalgia.

It’s the sweet memories with his former colleagues, the sense of belonging, open and collaborative environment that he misses most.

Jason is not alone.

There have been several accounts of working professionals gaining deep job satisfaction. They post their appreciation on LinkedIn or speak informally to their counterparts and friends. As such, companies have taken the initiatives to relook at what employee experience and recognition means.

In addition, well-respected global media and research papers play an important role in shaping thoughts on the ideal conducive workplace, and how this will translate into workplace productivity and commercial success.

McKinsey conducted a study in 2018 on why workforce culture matters. Based on survey done with more than 1,000 organizations that encompasses more than three million individuals, those with top quartile cultures, post a return to shareholders 60% higher than the median companies.

Google is well-known for enforcing company values. In the category of culture and values, they scored 4.4 out of 5 based on Glassdoor reviews.

That’s super!

Moving ahead, given the shift to hybrid model for most companies, companies would need to adapt and adjust to the new way of working to rethink about the employee experience.

Talent retention is one of the key priorities to ensure their workforce is engaged (and exceptional people are not quitting).

People need to feel shiny and happy.

So, what makes up job satisfaction?

Introducing the Herzberg’s Motivation Two-Factor Theory

Previously, I have written an article here, highlighting how the two-factor theory can be used.

By the way, Frederick Herzberg was an American Psychologist (April 18, 1923 – January 19, 2000) who became one of the most influential names in business management. His publication “One more time, how do you motivate employees” had sold 1.2 million copies reprints by 1987, and was the most requested article from the “Harvard Business Review” (source: Wikipedia)

His theory focuses on 2 key areas:

1) Hygiene Factors (Dissatisfiers) 2) Motivators (Satisfiers)

Just like in a hospital - a company will need to monitor their hygiene to drive a healthy workforce. According to Herzberg, hygiene issues cannot motivate employees.

Motivators create satisfaction by fulfilling individuals’ needs for meaning and personal growth. This will promote job satisfaction and encourage effective productivity.

Here is a table to describe the variables in each of them:

(source: by Charlotte Nickerson,, Nov 16, 2021)

Applying the theory

Every indicator can be further investigated.

From a broader picture, the HR Directors, Head of People & Culture or Talent Acquisition Leaders can use both “Satisfiers” and “Dissatisfiers” to map out an initial plan first:

Policies and rules

Have clear and practical HR handbook that is fair and independent, and applicable to all employees in the workplace. Employees may get frustrated if rules are unnecessary or ambiguous.


Not all good employees will become good Supervisors or Line Managers. A level of leadership skill is required, with the ability to treat their team members fairly, and using positive feedback to encourage learning and progression.

Implement the best practice thereafter that warrants a successful supervisory outcome, with key input contributed by the Heads of the business units. It’s also useful to review the organization’s employee feedback where views across all levels are made in-confidence and not done through a sensitive performance appraisal report.

Interpersonal Relations

Part of the satisfaction of being employed (and feeling delightfully contented) is the social context. Allow a reasonable amount of time for employees to socialize; some may just bring “aha” moments and new ideas during coffee breaks. This helps to develop camaraderie and teamwork. Observe how the situation turns out after a period of time.

Open work spaces (without partitions) can also facilitate closer relationships between teams. Bring bosses and cross-functional teams together through simple morning coffee, which can just last for 10-15 minutes. Share human-centric stories, not just work but general stuffs.

Create a vibrant and engaged workforce

Application of the theory for employees

For employees, they can identify the top 2 “Satisfiers” that are most important to them across their existing career-life stage.

Then, the individual can self-reflect, investigate further and finally gather valuable thoughts to have fruitful conversations with a qualified Career Coach. Sometimes, your Line Manager (provided he/she is trained in people development) or HR personnel can help too.

Next, pick the top 2 “Dissatisfiers”.

Find ways to turn it around. For instance, if relationship with colleagues is a pain, what really causes it – is it based on the communication style, personality clash or other external factors? What’s the next step to rectify to transform into a workable solution?

A point to note – we have the ability to control things that we can.

Hence, we focus our time and energy to handpick the “Satisfiers” and “Dissatisfiers” to redesign our internal working approach.

Quantitively, you can also rank each of the indicators in “Satisfiers” and “Dissatisfiers”. Use a ranking of 1-10, where 10 is the maximum point and 1 is the lowest. Highest points scored would be your top 2 selection, followed by a chat to gain clarity about your choices.


There is no one-sized methodology to create a 100% job satisfaction. This will highly unlikely to happen. But you can explore ways to fulfil at least a 70% benchmark.

To HRs and the teams involved -- Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory serves as a starting point.

By creating an environment that espouses consistent and authentic appreciation while fixing job satisfaction at the core, you are developing employees who will enjoy the rich experience in working for the company. They will be motivated, productive and fulfilled, resulting in positive shout-outs in LinkedIn and elevating the company to greater heights.

The key to unlock a well-balanced job satisfaction level is to have an all-rounded, data-driven conversation (from internal surveys conducted) with various teams across levels within an organization. Develop the points of agreement and define the "in-between" definition of job satisfaction from an employee's perspective within a firm's standpoint.

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