employee satisfaction does not equate to high morale
can employees be highly satisfied with their work, yet have low morale?
This paradox is becoming a more frequent finding in recent employee
surveys. In analysing the
results from more than 6,500 employees across 8 Australian organisations
since 2000, The Ryder Self Group has identified that while employee
satisfaction and morale are linked, they are driven by different factors.
skills and abilities are matched to their jobs will drive higher job
satisfaction. Morale will
improve through employees being led and managed well, given regular
performance feedback and recognition, a pleasant work environment,
customer focus and a clear direction for their organisation.
organisations are more successful in achieving employee satisfaction than
high employee morale.
The Relationship between Employee Satisfaction and Morale
measure a number of job and work related variables covering the physical
work environment, resources, pay, leadership, communication, performance
management, customer focus, recognition and reward, workload, stress etc.
In our surveys, individuals rate how important these attributes are
to them and their current experiences in relation to those attributes. To
identify the underlying drivers of satisfaction and morale, we correlate
the ratings on workplace experiences with ‘gut feel’ questions where
employees rate their overall satisfaction with working with their employer
and their work morale.
Through this analysis we are able to confirm that
employee satisfaction and morale are linked but not the same concepts:
The highest correlation coefficient is 0.715
and the lowest 0.383 across the 8 organisations (note: a correlation
coefficient of 0.3 or more indicates a positive relationship). A
correlation coefficient of at least 0.95 would indicate that these two
constructs are the same. None of the coefficients in Chart 1 are close to
0.95, indicating that although the two concepts are linked, there are
important differences to be discovered.
1: Correlation coefficients measured between Employee Satisfaction and
Drivers of Employee Satisfaction and
Analysing the results
of all 8 organisations, we found only one attribute “using my skills and
abilities in the job” correlated strongly with employee satisfaction.
however, correlated strongly with employee morale namely:
in senior management’s abilities
leadership from the management team
a clear direction for the organisation
communication between managers and employees
and approachable managers
for a job well done
atmosphere and workplace
in the organisation
Furthermore, there were two other important
findings that emerged from the analysis:
Where employees felt they were managed well and
recognised, there was a greater possibility that they experienced high
Where employees believed they were using their
skills and abilities in the job, they were most likely to be highly
satisfied with their work.
Finally, an important item that affects both
employee satisfaction and morale is employees “feeling valued and
respected”. We have
discussed this particular aspect of employee satisfaction extensively in
our article on management communication.
It appears to be the ultimate outcome of effective two-way communication
between managers and employees.
So what does this all mean? While employee satisfaction and morale are related concepts
they do not measure the same dynamic in organisations. From an employee point of view, the findings are
captured in the statement: “I love my job.
It’s just a pity how I’m managed”.
To achieve employee satisfaction, organisations
need to ensure:
Employee morale will need to be
addressed through ensuring:
addressing both employee satisfaction and morale, it is expected that
ultimately employees will feel valued and respected and have pride in
Currently, it appears that organisations are better at achieving
employee satisfaction and less successful at ensuring high employee
Our findings are based on research conducted
between 2000 and 2002 with over 6,500 employees across the following
to-Business service & product providers (3)
Internal Shared Services
Public Sector organisations
© The Ryder Self Group 2003