Employee Satisfaction Doesn’t Matter?

I just read a post in LinkedIn from Jim Clifton, CEO at Gallup that said this and I could not believe a true leader will even think that, much less write it and print it. [1].

Team Building
Team Building

While normally I will try to be “politically correct”, I have to say that I consider this article has missed the point in so many ways that it’s hard to believe that it was even posted publicly. There are multiple academic and business studies showing a direct link between employee satisfaction and employee productivity, and its impact on company bottom line. The only way to write this article is to forget that anyone can do a simple Google search and find relevant data, it’s the same as claiming that “the earth is flat” simply because I’m standing on the beach and I don’t see the ocean fall off the side….[2]


Employe satisfaction does not matters, next we will hear that customer satisfaction does not matter either. Employees are the engine of any organization and if you don’t take care of your employees, they will walk away or be less productive than they can. If we follow this twisted logic, the happiness of employees is not important, and will not impact any company performance. If that is the case then let’s be sure that any CXO, EVP, and even the author get measured by the same yardstick and they don’t get “more vacation time, higher pay, year end bonuses etc”. I’m assuming that every one of them as employees of their organizations will be equally “unhappy and productive” and will dedicate their best efforts to the organization … Yeah Right!!


What the author may have found is organizational leaders that send out employee satisfaction surveys and tell their managers and employees “be sure you give us the best grades”.. When you do that as it is well known by programmers you get the “GIGO” effect “Garbage IN, Garbage OUT”.. Surveys should be designed and answers collected expecting the truth, and you use that information to improve your organization. When you ask people to lie (and in many cases is because the executive bonus is based on the actual results of the survey), then you simply get a useless survey because all of the employees know how hypocritical the game is played and do whatever they must to keep their paychecks coming (regardless of the impact to the company). That is a simple survival mechanism (for the Executives and the Employees), do whatever you must to keep the money coming in the short term, since there is no expectation of loyalty going either way.


On the other hand you have companies like COSTCO that do whatever they can to pay their employees more than the minimum necessary, and to make them feel part of the organization [3]. As everyone knows, they have some of the most productive employees of their industry. Same happened to Cisco, where employee productivity decreased from the high 600K 15 years ago, to potentially less than 350K per employee recently, and it can be directly related to employee satisfaction scores.


So if you want to have hypocritical employees, then send surveys pre-filled already with the responses, but if you truly want to improve your company performance, listen to the engine (the employees). If they are happy, they will put in the extra work, if they are not they will put in the extra time .. (at the water cooler, Facebook, break room, and of course LinkedIn..) searching for their next job….


References and Related Articles

1- Employee Satisfaction Doesn’t Matter – Jim Clifton, Gallup. https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140605130808-14634910-employee-satisfaction-doesn-t-matter

2- Google Search – Relationship between employee satisfaction and productivity – 1,160,000 findings – https://www.google.com/search?q=relationship+between+employee+satisfaction+and+productivity&oq=relationship+between+employee+satisfaction+and+productivity&aqs=chrome..69i57.9443j0j1&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=91&ie=UTF-8

3- Costco Profit Soars – Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/12/costco-profit_n_2859250.html

About Jorge Mastrapa

Dr. Jorge Mastrapa is an international author, speaker, executive coach, and entrepreneur. His areas of expertise include cultural diversity, global leadership, organizational culture, and human capital management.

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