Ignore employee satisfaction at your own peril

31 August 2011 Alexander Forbes Financial Services

In a recent survey conducted amongst 71 South African employers, representing 170 000 employees across 33 industries, it was found that few South African employers use employee satisfaction as a guide to the design of their employee benefit schemes.

In fact, only 40% of respondents considered employee satisfaction levels when reviewing their employee benefit programmes.

Despite this, 69% of employers acknowledged the role that employee benefits played in employees’ overall satisfaction levels, making it clear that there is a disconnect between what South African employers spend on employee benefits and the real return that employees perceive.

What these two figures mean is that “the majority of South African employers do not take the employee satisfaction of their own workforce into account, despite the importance of satisfaction in ensuring that employee benefits spend is optimised” says John Anderson, Alexander Forbes Financial Services (Pty) Limited.

The survey also revealed that where general surveys are used for employee satisfaction, these are inadequate as they generally show averages without highlighting the variability of satisfaction levels. South African employee opinion surveys also generally do not highlight the factors that contribute positively or negatively to satisfaction levels.

“Better models, using actuarial techniques, are available to more accurately assess satisfaction and better highlight the areas requiring attention” says Anderson.

It is also important that when an employee opinion survey is undertaken, the methodology used to model the results produce accurate and informative findings that focus on the key issues that will improve satisfaction levels.

“Employers should be looking at how to better link their overall employee benefit design with what employees actually want and perceive as valuable” advises Anderson.

As such, company employee benefit schemes should:

· be more responsive to market changes and individual circumstances;

· assist in improving individuals’ outcomes;

· assist in measurably achieving a more satisfied workforce.

Currently all the evidence is pointing to a disconnect between the benefits employers are offering and those that employees actually want.

“Those organisations that do the research properly and develop the kind of employee benefit schemes that employees in their industry actually want will be best placed to attract and retain key talent” concludes Anderson.

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