How a Small Employer Gets Big Results From Its Employee Satisfaction Program

When I began working in human resources, my job was to make sure the company was in compliance. My tasks included payroll processing, recruiting and benefit administration, but in the past few years employee satisfaction has become one of our company’s “Four Key Results” and one of my main job functions.

Like us, more and more HR departments are shifting to focus heavily on employee satisfaction and retention. Not only is this good for staff, but it has also shown to have a positive impact on a business’ bottom line. Reports from SHRM and Globoforce and Gallup, among others, back up the importance of keeping staff happy to make customers happy. Employee retention, increased productivity and higher satisfaction are all a result of cultivating a valued, engaged staff.

How to start

When owner Susan Hladky took over Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in 2011, one of the first things she did was spend time working in each department to fully understand how the club operated, and what each staff members needed to be successful. From there, she and club GM Mark Gurnow began working with the HR and management teams to develop a robust employee satisfaction program.

Hladky and Gurnow have given as much weight and attention to employee satisfaction as member satisfaction, and our club has incorporated several successful employee initiatives that can be utilized across a variety of industries. These programs fall into four main categories: perks, appreciation, recognition and communication.

1.Perks
With a professional background in recruiting, I’ve seen firsthand how much employees value company perks. Working at a golf club a few of our offerings, like golf privileges on the club’s two private courses, are obvious. But we go beyond that. Our 410(k) program  matches contributions, dollar for dollar, up to 5% of salary. We also provide healthy lunch options, employee and member referral bonus programs and every Thanksgiving each staff member is given a gift card for a turkey.

2.Appreciation
Showing appreciation for the staff’s hard work and making sure they know their dedication is valued is an important factor in employee satisfaction. In the past few years, we have initiated several annual employee events, such as:

  • Family day at a local waterpark
  • Employee holiday party
  • Employee golf tournament.

Fun fact!: Participation in our tournament increased by 13% the second year it was held, and we found that even staff members who had never swung a golf club wanted to get in on the fun. Teams mix together staff from different departments. Our golf pros are on-hand to provide a little extra help — or in my case, a lot of help! Club vendors, members and local businesses donate food, prizes and tee gifts to make the tournament extra special for the staff.

3.Recognition
Not only do people want to feel appreciated, it’s important to recognize great work. At Superstition Mountain we have started “Employee of the Quarter” and “Employee of the Year” awards. Staff members are nominated by peers and winners are selected by management teams. The “Employee of the Quarter” receives eight hours of paid time off (PTO), an award certificate, formal recognition in front of staff and club members and a dedicated parking spot with name plaque. The “Employee of the Year” receives an additional 40 hours of PTO. How’s that for appreciation!

4.Communication
Last, but surely not least, frequent, open communication is key to maintaining employee satisfaction. We keep staff up-to-date on club news, upcoming events, employee recognition, photos and more through a dedicated staff website and monthly employee newsletter.

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Employee feedback is as important as outbound communication and our Employee Advisory Council has seen great success. Comprised of staff members from each department, the council meets quarterly to discuss ideas and suggestions for various employee initiatives and how communication and employee satisfaction could be improved. The most important outcome of this initiative is that our leadership regularly implements programs based on the council’s feedback.

Our program is working

So how do you know if your employee satisfaction plan is working? You keep score. For the past three years we have conducted employee surveys to measure the results of these initiatives, using a scale of 1-5, with five being the best. A few highlights include:

  • “I am proud to work for our club”: 4.72 average response – 3% increase in three years
  • “I believe our club deserves my loyalty”: 4.66 average response – 3% increase in three years
  • “I feel that I am a valued and appreciated staff member”: 4.33 average response – 9% increase in three years

Overall satisfaction has increased by 4% and as a result, the member satisfaction score has also increased steadily.

“Our member experience starts, at its very core, with each and every employee,” said Gurnow. “If we aren’t providing a positive work environment and engaging our staff, it will have a negative impact on our club as a whole.”

All good business owners know that happy employees make a company better but unlike Superstition Mountain, not many have a formal program in place to ensure that happens. Hopefully these tips give you some ideas on how to start, and track, your own program.

Jennifer Morrissey has been the human resource manager at Superstition Golf and Country Club in Arizona for more than seven years. Her duties include overseeing payroll for more than 140 employees, administering benefit programs and overseeing the new-hire and recruiting process. Prior to joining Superstition Mountain, Morrissey worked as a people services coordinator for BlueStar Resort and Golf.

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