Monday, September 15, 2014

Employee Satisfaction Doesn't Really Matter

As business owners or leaders within our organizations we all strive to make our employees happy. For decades now we’ve all been concerned about workplace job satisfaction. We've spent endless hours and money on administering employee satisfaction surveys to ensure our employees are and will remain happy at work. 

Currently, most workplaces gauge their employees' satisfaction through surveys that measure an employee's happiness with their current job conditions.  Most surveys base their questioning around such topics as compensation, flexibility, vacation time, benefits and workload.  However, this could be kind of a "catch 22" in that when employees are asked what would make them happier at work, the common answers are more vacation, more compensation, free food, latte machines and ping pong tables. Who wouldn't be happy with all that??  
Let's look at a real world example. We all know Google. Google always receives high employee satisfaction ratings. They compensate their employees through high pay and tremendous benefits. Along with all the perks of free food, on-site medical staff and state of the art exercise facilities. In at least the last 3 years (and probably more) Google has been named to Fortune's 100 Best Companies (Fortune 2014) to Work For, always placing in at least the top 5.  As a result, Google is also listed as the number 1 company in CNNMoney's Top 15 MBA Employers (Cable News Network, 2014). This survey asks recent MBA graduates where they would most want to work after they receive their degree. In other words, Google has the opportunity to recruit the best of the best minds year in and year out.

However, the curious thing is that Google has a median tenure of 1.1 years (Payscale, 2014). Some may argue that the median age of a "Googler" is 29 years old, so they haven't been on the job very long. Google also suffers from the hyper-competitive tech market where competing companies are constantly wooing each others employees to come over to the other side. But when you compare Google with other high tech companies like Microsoft or Intel, which pull from this same pool of recruits, you'll find the median tenure to be more in the 4+ year range (BloombergView, 2014). To put this in perspective, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median tenure of all US employees is 4.4 years. Among professionals, which most Google employees are, is 5.5 years. Or how about this, the median tenure for people between the ages of 25 and 34, again the demographic of the typical Google employee, is 3.2 years. Even the food service and hospitality sector, which has the lowest median tenure of all industries, was at 2.4 years (BLS, 2014)...higher than Google.

So what's going on at Google?  Why the disloyalty?  How could they always have such high employee satisfaction ratings but only hold on to their employees for such a short time?  Here's an example of some feedback that was posted on June 12, 2014 on the website Glass Door (Glassdoor, 2014) from a employee at Google:

Pros – The rumors about the glamorous work environment at Google are true. You're in a comfortable workplace surrounded by the best people and practically smothered with perks.

Cons – The fabulous perks are there to keep the highly skilled employees complacent while they perform the menial, repetitive, labor that is required to keep the machine running. On any given evening, many a Googler can be heard lamenting about his/her under-stimulating project at any given Palo Alto watering hole.
That can't be the type of feedback Google was expecting when it lavished it's employees with all the great perks.
The interesting thing about this is that after reading this post, one would think this person was one unhappy employee.  However, this person gave Google a 5 out 5 in terms of his/her satisfaction with Google.  Uh?  Something doesn't add up.  But remember job satisfaction surveys only measure how an employee feels about their current job conditions:  compensation, benefits, vacation and perks...and when it comes to benefits and perks, Google certainly is one of the best out there!
One has to ask, as an employer and/or manager is it employee satisfaction that I'm really striving for here, or is it something?  Because once you take down those smiling faces, you get a lot of bored, disinterested employees that are not really engaged in the work they do.  There is no passion, no drive, no ambition to do better.  They put in just enough effort to get the paycheck, no more.
What does employee disengagement get you?  Not much, in fact it can really hurt your bottom line. According the Gallup's State of the Workplace Report (Gallup, 2013) a disengaged workforce leads a company to lost productivity, less innovation, higher rate of safety incidents, lower customer satisfaction, higher turnover rates and lower profitability.
What's even scarier, is that Gallup's study reports that only 30% of the US workforce is engaged, while the remaining 70% are disengaged or actively disengaged.
So what do I mean by employee engagement? According to Gallup, it’s a measurement of an employee’s emotional commitment to an organization; it takes into account the amount of discretionary effort an employee expends on behalf of the organization.

Can an organization have a satisfied employee who is not engaged and vice versa? As stated by the ADP Research Institute (ADP, 2013), chances are an engaged employee is also a satisfied employee. Few people are willing to go the extra mile for their employer unless they fundamentally happy in their jobs.

However, it is certainly possible to have a satisfied employee with a low engagement level – someone who shows up to work and goes through the motions, but does not demonstrate a lot of initiative or put in a lot of extra effort to further the success of the organization.  Does this sound like anyone that works in your company?  Chances are it does...

How can we go from a disengaged workplace to an engaged one?  Find out in Trinity's October blog post where I will offer some insights into employee engagement and mobilizing your teams to bring out their best.

Need help engaging and mobilizing your employees?  Look no further, contact The Trinity Business Group today for more information!


"20 Companies with the Least Loyal Employees - Google, Inc.." PayScale. (accessed September 15, 2014).

"Best Companies to Work For 2014." Fortune. (accessed September 15, 2014).

"Employee Satisfaction vs. Employee Engagement: Are They the Same Thing?." Talent Management.{14CB5B2B-87F0-4574-AE5B-A7AEC3778286} (accessed September 15, 2014).

Cable News Network. "Google." CNNMoney. (accessed September 15, 2014).

 "Google Reviews." Glassdoor.,6.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "JOLTS News Releases." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (accessed September 15, 2014).

 "State of the Global Workplace." State of the Global Workplace. (accessed September 15, 2014).

"Why Are Google Employees So Disloyal?." (accessed September 15, 2014).


Taking the Lead: Shane Hofmann

This month's "Taking the Lead" features Shane Hofmann, Home Mortgage Consultant for Edina Realty Mortgage.  Most people think mortgage brokers are a dime a dozen, and in my experience that's been pretty spot on. However, recently I was blessed with meeting one of the rare shining stars in the field of home lending.  After working with Shane, I realized that not all mortgage consultants are created equal...not by a long shot.  When I decided to add this feature to Trinity's newsletter, Shane came to mind immediately as the person to showcase in its first edition.  Find out what Shane has done in his field of home mortgage consulting to become one of the best in the business!

Shane Hofmann
Home Mortgage Consultant
Edina Realty Mortgage
What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success? 

Treat people the right way and the rest will take care of itself.

What key steps did you take to get to the role you are in today?
 Early in my career I took mortgage jobs in different areas of the business. I worked on the broker side of things, I worked for a new construction company and I worked in a real estate office. I truly believe that gave me great insight into every area of the mortgage business and made me very knowledgeable in every area of the business.

What is your leadership style?
I’ve never been a rah-rah guy, I think I’ve always led by example. People have always respected me because I treat people fairly & honestly, and try to have some fun at the same time.

What tools or resources have you used that have been crucial to your success?
I might be old school in saying this, but a 1-on-1 meeting can be better than any tool or technology piece out there. Getting to know your clients & referral sources on a personal level has been vital to any success I’ve had.

What steps are you currently taking to improve yourself, professionally?
Edina Realty Mortgage is always offering classes/training on different topics and I attend everything they put on. It’s a great sign when your company is willing to put some dollars/training back into their employees.

What is the next step you plan to take in your career to develop your leadership skills? My long-term goal is to someday get into management. I need to continue to lead in key areas like sales/volume, but also lead in customer service. If I’m not putting up solid numbers, along with treating people well, you’re not going to achieve your goals. I’m constantly striving to get better in every area of our business.

What professional accomplishment or result have you achieved in the past year that you are proud of?
I was recognized for market share within our company, which just awards the top producing loan officer for percentage of deals within our office that are going to me as the loan officer. That is a huge key to any success I have and just shows that the people I work closely with trust me with their clients and handling of their business.

Have you experienced a career or leadership challenge recently that you have overcome?

Not necessarily a leadership challenge, but a generational challenge. As a 30-something, it’s easy to get caught up in today’s technology advances and tools. But not everyone works with those tools today. I had to remind myself that isn’t the only way to do business. You have to communicate with people the way they want to be communicated with. Sending an email to someone might not mean nearly as much as picking up the phone and talking to them.

Would you mind sharing some of the tips on how you were able to change what was perhaps a negative career challenge into a positive outcome?
Have a formal way to stay updated with your referral partners. I felt like I was staying in touch with my referral partners and was updating them, but I got some feedback that they’d like something more formal. Since then I set up an afternoon every week and put it in my outlook calendar that I don’t do anything but update my referral partners on what is going on with any of their clients or to just touch base. I can tell it’s made a difference in my business.

What are some top tips you can recommend to other professionals who want to be recognized as a high potential emerging leader?

Status quo is never good. I’ve been in the mortgage business for 12 years and I’m still striving to become great. There are always areas of your business you can improve. Don’t become stagnant, look for opportunities to make yourself better, or make your business better. If you see or know of a great leader in your company, take them to lunch and pick their brain! Learn from the people around you.

Thanks Shane for your awesome insights!

If you're ever in need of a home mortgage or are looking at refinancing your current property Shane is a great resource and you'll be glad you turned to him! He comes highly recommended by yours truly!

To find out more about Shane and the services he offers, please visit his website by clicking