Improving Job Satisfaction and Retention: It’s Not That Complicated

A colleague of mine used to say that workers don’t quit a job because of the pay. After all, they accepted the job in the first place at that pay. It’s the experience of their work and work relationships that lead to satisfaction or dissatisfaction. So, while salary or hourly pay can resolve common financial stressors such as childcare, transportation, housing, and food, it is not enough. And while the Great Resignation of 2021-2022 has slowed, job quitting remains high at 44.5 million in 2023.

Recent surveys confirm this view. In fact, the top reasons for quitting a job include needing more challenge, feeling uninspired, undervalued, underused, disengaged, and having a poor management relationship. Compensation is not a leading cause of worker dissatisfaction, no matter the work setting.

We all need to feel supported in our work. Whether you are an executive or an entry level employee, you have a vital role to play in your organization. Your work has meaning. As administrators, we need to find ways to support all members of our work teams in achieving meaningful key performance indicators with job satisfaction. A critical component is the relationship between employee and manager. Ask yourself how well you support both your managers, with the skills and resources they need, and your employees, to ensure they have ongoing communication and feedback from their supervisors in order to succeed at their jobs. How can you assess your managers’ skills in building and maintaining the supervisory relationship without being omnipresent in every situation? What tools do you use to prepare managers for their responsibilities, beyond the initial orientation and training period? Webinars and consultants are useful for providing education, but managers need ongoing support to develop supervisory work roles and practices. Follow through is crucial to ensure managers are consistently implementing best practices in the employee-supervisor relationship, such as how to measure and communicate success for each individual employee.

I recall my first promotion to a “senior” clinical position when I was 24. I was impressed to be included in leadership training with a small group of other hospital middle managers. We were whisked away to a retreat facility for a day-long immersion consisting of leadership quizzes, self-reflecting on our newly discovered leadership styles, and group sharing. It was helpful, but, sadly, the training ended there. I was missing the most important component, support to implement what I had learned and to get feedback on my performance. I needed “on the job” training. I would have loved additional sessions for role playing, to practice supervision skills. How useful it would have been to participate in ongoing leadership meetings for all to share what was working and wasn’t. Instead, I was left to my own devices to learn how to communicate job expectations, and how to balance positive reinforcement with confronting poor performance. It was a lot of trial and error and personally stressful as I agonized over how to confront an employee who was not performing and how to keep an exceptional employee from being underchallenged and appropriately rewarded. My own supervisory meetings, held monthly, were spent with me relaying what had already come to pass and how to put out fires that might have been addressed proactively. I resigned after one year in that new role.

So why do we continue to struggle to provide effective management that results in high job satisfaction and job retention? If we can all agree that it is wise to invest in the supervisory relationship as it ultimately saves money, why haven’t we already done it?

The quick answer is that changing the status quo takes time and money. But what if there was a (not complicated!) technology solution that saved time and money? That question was the inspiration behind Goal Scaling Solutions. Maximizing accountability and outcomes depends on those critical supervisory relationships. Supporting and capturing those goal-focused communications in real time maximizes accountability, job satisfaction, and outcomes. Check out our published research findings for this data as well as the sources below: