Employee Blues Can Be Cheered By More Green, Survey Finds

While performance management plays a vital role, compensation drives employee satisfaction.

An unhappy employee can be an unproductive employee. Based on a recent survey by jobs website Indeed, only 19 percent of workers are satisfied with their salaries. Some experts believe compensation is at the root of their dissatisfaction, but the issue could lie somewhere else.

Aon Hewitt

Ken Abosch

According to Ken Abosch, broad-based compensation and development leader for Aon Hewitt, having unhappy employees doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because of compensation differences. It might be a performance management problem.

“There’s a huge disconnect between what employees think their efforts and contributions look like and what the company feels they’re getting,” said Abosch.

There needs to be more communication between employees and their managers, Abosch said, and the focus should be on three key management aspects. First, employees and managers should collaborate on setting clear goals the employee can achieve. Second, training managers need to focus more on learning how to assess employee performance effectively. Finally, managers need to give honest feedback to their employees.

“It’s not so much ‘are we giving people enough money?’ or ‘Are we spending enough money?’ ” Abosch said. “Do [employees] see the relationship between what they contributed and what they earned?”

The meaning of a “good” compensation package can vary depending on the company. It could include more time off or better health care benefits. It might be receiving more bonuses than raises.

“[It] is not necessarily one that gives them the opportunity to get rich,” Abosch said. “But one that is fair and competitive and provides them with rewards that are commensurate with the results that they generate.”

So, what is more important to an employee, overall compensation or salary?

“Typically, the most important thing to an employee is their salary. Period. Stop. End of story,” Abosch said.


William Arruda

Even if workers value other benefits, their priority is salary. William Arruda, founder and consultant of Reach Personal Branding, provides his employees with a bit more incentive, which he believes will help companies keep “their best talent.”

“My approach has always been to pay people a little more than what is expected,” Arruda said. “That takes salary off the table and creates loyalty and trust.”

With the recently passed federal tax reform, some employees may be hoping a pay increase is in their future. Abosch doesn’t see that happening.

“Companies are more likely to put it in the form of a bonus than to increase their salaries,” Abosch said.

No one wants to work while unhappy with their salary. Arruda advises employees to up their game and work hard to get a promotion, which in turn will get them a pay raise and better compensation.

“Building new skills and increasing visibility and credibility with decision makers needs to become a priority,” Arruda said.

Aysha Ashley Househ is a Workforce intern. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.