More satisfaction, more productivity

Finding and retaining good employees is as important as ever for businesses. Through corporate health management, companies can improve employee satisfaction and increase productivity.

Appreciation and recognition create employee satisfaction. Photo: Fotolia - Robert Kneschke

Appreciation and recognition create employee satisfaction. Photo: Fotolia – Robert Kneschke

For its corporate headquarters in Cupertino, California, Apple Founder Steve Jobs wanted to create the best office building in the world. And then the backlash came: Even before moving into the new headquarters, employees began complaining about the open-plan offices with their huge “pods”, and even threatened to walk. Developers – whose success relies on their focus and concentration – feared distraction and stress.

Good intentions do not automatically lead to good results when it comes to workplace satisfaction. According to the study “Quality of Work in Europe” by the Cologne Institute of Economic Research, it is appreciation and recognition – expressed through money, career possibilities and personal praise – that makes for content employees and a positive workplace environment. This was what the researchers discovered after surveying 28,000 professionals across the 28 EU member states.

Casual campus atmosphere rather than stuffy corporate HQ. Photo: Brooks Kraft - Getty Images Appreciation by one's superiors improves workplace satisfaction. Photo: Phil Boorman - Getty Images Solidarity among colleagues and good development opportunities create a positive work environment. Photo: Tom Werner - Getty Images Shared lunch breaks create opportunities for social interaction. Photo: PENSON/Rex/Shutterstock

Head of the DEKRA Automobil People and Health department Dr. Karin Müller underlines the influence the social environment has in the workplace. Managers in particular have huge responsibility: “The actions of management define a department’s social climate,” says Müller. Corporate health management can play a key role in improving workplace satisfaction. The term describes a tailor-made system to improve a company’s working conditions and employee quality of life through a variety of individual measures, thereby improving productivity.

The term “corporate health promotion” encompasses measures that fall under three key columns – exercise, nutrition and stress management. Especially popular are management and communication training seminars, as well as initiatives that encourage employees to get active. Corporate health management has already seen widespread adoption in the manufacturing, health, social and office-based sectors. According to Müller, the food and construction industries need to catch up. “We would also like to win over more businesses in sectors such as car sales and automotive repairs,” the qualified psychologist explains.

Light sporting activity and movement don't just improve employee satisfaction; it also contributes towards employee health. Photo: Luis Alvarez - Getty Images

Light sporting activity and movement don’t just improve employee satisfaction; it also contributes towards employee health. Photo: Luis Alvarez – Getty Images

Work Satisfaction in the EU

The study “Work Quality in Europe” by the German Economic Institute in Cologne discovered that across Europe, approximately 86 percent of employees are ­satisfied with their current employment. Especially happy are workers in Austria (92.9 percent), the Netherlands (91.9 percent) and Estonia (90.6 percent). Germany too is above average with 88 percent of ­workers satisfied with their current employment situation. Rather more critical of their current work environment are the French, of whom only 79 percent are satisfied with their current position. The most important factors for high occupational satisfaction are appreciation and recognition for one’s work, expressed through money, promotion opportunities and words. Of similar importance is a good social environment in the workplace. The focus here is on relationships and cooperation with colleagues, as well as support from management.

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