ESAT: employee satisfaction and why it matters

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”

– Simon Sinek

Customer-centricity is the new business buzzword. Every company knows the importance of customer satisfaction and creating the best possible experience for their service users. They focus on customer loyalty strategies, on personalisation, on streamlining the customer journey.

But what about closer to home? What about looking to your team members, the people interacting with these customers that you’re striving to make happy?

That’s where ESAT – employee satisfaction – comes in. And it’s more important than it’s often given credit for.

So, how do you go about creating ESAT, and why should businesses bother?

What is ESAT?

First, what is ESAT? ESAT, or employee satisfaction, is simply how satisfied employees are with their job and the way they’re treated by the company.

Like customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction comes from the experience you create. Rather than prompt, empathetic service, however, the emphasis rests on company culture, opportunities, and balance.

And, inevitably, ESAT feeds into CSAT. Or, in other words, happy employees make for happy customers.

Contributing factors

So, what contributes to high ESAT / employee satisfaction?

•       Value, respect, recognition, appreciation

It feels good when our efforts are recognised and appreciated. If an employee never gets appreciation for what they do, then why would they bother doing it to the best of their ability? Showing employees that they’re valued and appreciated boosts their satisfaction with their role — it proves that their effort is worth it to the business.

Promote appreciation by:

  • • Celebrating contributions. Praise your team members for great work, make an effort to recognise the importance of their roles, and thank them when they do well.
  • • Standing up for them against abusive customers. Show your team that they’re valued by making the tough decisions — like letting a customer go if they’re not respecting your employee. Knowing they have you in their corner will boost their job satisfaction.

•       Work/life balance

Having a good work/life balance means that employees have time to relax, time for leisure and time with their families. A poor work/life balance can lead to burnout and resentment for the role. In other words, low ESAT.

Promote work/life balance by:

  • • Offering flexible work hours. Life doesn’t always fit around the daily 9-5. Sometimes you need the afternoon to fix the boiler, or an extra hour in the morning to get the kids to school. Allowing employees — where possible — to adjust their working time, means that the job doesn’t become a hurdle to life, and vice versa.
  • • Encourage ‘quiet hours.’ Encourage teams to switch off from their emails and work when they’re at home.

•       Culture and workplace relationships

It’s hard to feel satisfied and happy in a negative environment. If colleagues don’t get on, or a manager is too overbearing or a bad fit, it can bring down ESAT. Having a positive company culture can help to make for a positive workplace atmosphere with friendly colleagues. This translates to ESAT.

Promote good workplace relationships by:

  • • Foster a positive workplace culture. This could be by ensuring that you hire to fit the company culture. Other options include team-building activities, and encouraging an open, respectful atmosphere. (For instance, by welcoming feedback and allowing for humour.)
  • • Understand individual management preferences. Some employees might appreciate more oversight and management, some less. Adapt your management style to suit the needs of your employees.

•       Progression opportunities

It’s not enough that employees are satisfied with the job they have now. Over time, they’re going to want to do more, earn more, and take on more responsibility. They want a sense of future, of career progression. Having clear promotion opportunities and a career path mapped out, then, can help employees feel motivated and satisfied that they aren’t stuck in a dead-end.

Promote progression by:

  • • Offering training and learning opportunities geared towards career progression. By doing so, you not only support employee career progression but demonstrate that you want to see them grow with the business. That can give your team a lot of confidence and help them feel valued, as a bonus.
  • • Encouraging mentoring and job shadowing. By establishing a formal mentoring program, you both support career progression and promote a cooperative work environment. Both of which lead to higher ESAT.

•       Compensation

Although not the be all end all on this list, compensation also plays a role in ESAT. If an employee feels they aren’t being adequately compensated for their work and effort, they aren’t going to feel valued or want to put in any extra effort. However, this doesn’t mean that greatly inflated salaries will improve ESAT if the employee experience is otherwise untenable.

How to measure ESAT

Fostering employee satisfaction means having an idea of how content your team are. You need to know what needs to change, what the pain points in the job are, and be able to track the impact of your efforts. In short, you need to measure your ESAT. Here are a few ways to do so.

  • Conversations

You want to know how your team is feeling. The best place to get that information is from the horse’s mouth. That is, to ask them. They know if they’re happy, what brings them down at work, and what could improve.

There are multiple different ways to open a conversation about ESAT with your team. You can use 1-1 chats, group meetings, stay interviews (where you ask employees why they stay at the company) and exit interviews. All create different environments to gather information and thoughts about working for your company.

  • Surveys

In meetings, some team members might not be willing to share some of their complaints. This is where employee satisfaction surveys provide a great opportunity. They can give anonymity to your employees — and let them truly share what would make their jobs more satisfying.

Plus, the use of surveys given at intervals allows you to track your employee satisfaction over time.

  • Data

Another way to get a hint of your employee satisfaction is to look at the surrounding factors. Is your employee retention rate good? Are you offering competitive compensation? These kinds of things can give you an idea if there’s a problem or not. (But it’s still more effective to ask your team for input.)

Why it matters

Having happier employees can never be a bad thing. It means a more positive, pleasant office atmosphere with positive people. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Boosting the satisfaction of your team has a ripple effect.

When your team are happy, it means there’s less stress and less risk of burnout. This translates to fewer absences due to burnout and stress-related illness.

Feeling positive about your job can do wonders for motivation and productivity. If you enjoy your job, you’re going to want to do the best you can at it. If you feel valued and appreciated, you’re going to be more willing to put in extra effort. In short, higher ESAT means higher productivity.

Another benefit of high employee satisfaction is that you reduce employee churn. After all, if you’re really satisfied with your job, why would you leave?

And then there’s the fact that boosting ESAT impacts CSAT….


It’s hard to offer great service when you’re having a bad day. For unsatisfied employees, bad days are more likely to occur. Even the most professional service rep can find low satisfaction — and the accompanying unhappiness — subtly colouring their interactions with customers.

Simply, it’s easier to be positive when you feel positive.

High employee satisfaction also helps employees feel more invested in the company. They’re more motivated to go that little bit further for the customer. They’ll feel positive about the company — and that can translate to the customer. The customer deals with a bright, helpful, happy employee, and leaves feeling brighter and happier for it themselves.  

In short, satisfied employees find it easier to be positive and attentive to customers. Which, in turn, translates to boosted loyalty and boosted customer satisfaction. ESAT feeds CSAT.

ESAT: employee satisfaction

Yes, focusing on customer satisfaction is essential to business success. But that also means focusing on ESAT. Ultimately, you can’t sustain one without the other.

It’s time for businesses to look within themselves. Time that more attention was paid to employee satisfaction (ESAT). Doing so might just bring more benefits than you think.

Useful links

When chatters attack: dealing with abusive customers

Live chat software: the unsung hero in improving employee morale

Agents, customer service bad days, and the power of live chat software