In order to truly understand what makes a company a great place to work, it’s important to explore, evaluate, and improve many different aspects of the employee experience. Our Employee Engagement and Satisfaction Survey measures eight distinct areas of employee experience, including how employees perceive their relationship with their supervisor. This relationship is one key component of a great workplace. When this bond is strong, employee engagement can be positively impacted. The way your boss treats you can mean the difference between reaching your full potential and thriving in the workplace or going home in tears and checking the employment listings.

Sadly, a common factor when people leave their jobs is the relationship they have with their immediate supervisor. Whether it’s trust, authority, communication or just plain being a jerk, the supervisor or immediate manager often holds the key to the levels of engagement achieved, or not achieved, among their staff. From the employee’s vantage point, the manager is many times synonymous with the employer– they are seen as one in the same. If that’s the case, you can see how much influence that one person can have on their team. And while many great employers figure out how to improve engagement levels on many fronts, the relationship between employee and supervisor can have a huge influence.

The Employee Engagement and Satisfaction Survey

Our Employee Engagement and Satisfaction Survey is comprised of 78 questions, rated on a 5-point Likert scale, that measure attitudes in eight core focus areas. Additionally, there are two open-ended questions at the end of the survey in which respondents can share what they love about working for their employer as well as what they’d like to see improve. 

We surveyed nearly one million employees in the last 12 months and we asked them each a standard set of eleven questions to measure role satisfaction at their roughly 6,000 respective organizations. Over the past 15 years, we’ve learned that when employees agree with the statements below, they are satisfied with the relationship they have with their supervisors.

1. My supervisor treats me fairly

Leadership should be consistent in the following areas as a baseline for creating an environment that is fair for each team member: criteria for performance reviews, disciplinary measures, eligibility for certain benefits, and eligibility for raises, promotions, and bonuses. “It seems to be an inherent component to being human to recognize when we’re being treated fairly, and to complain when we’re not being treated fairly,” notes Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D

2. My supervisor treats me with respect

Professional respect or disrespect from a supervisor can be interpreted in many ways. From a managerial perspective, some areas to consider are: not wasting an employee’s time with meaningless or tedious tasks, showing up to meetings on time or cancelling with adequate notice, and never dismissing questions or concerns from your employees.

3. My supervisor handles my work-related issues satisfactorily

Too commonly, managers dismiss employee concerns or complaints that should be addressed. No matter how small or insignificant the concern may seem, your leadership team must be trained to stop and thoughtfully consider each and every issue brought to them. Following up with employee regarding the issue is equally important. Managers should be prepared with either an explanation of how the issue will be addressed, or why it will not be at this time. 

4. My supervisor handles my personal issues satisfactorily

Employees are people, just like you. They have families and relationships– both inside the workplace and out. When personal issues arise, leaders should be equipped to handle them or to defer to the human resources team when appropriate. Team building activities can have a positive impact on issues that may arise among team members. Again, whatever the action taken, it must communicated clearly by the supervisor to the employee who raised the issue. 

5. My supervisor acknowledges when I do my work well

Showing gratitude and appreciation for the employees’ contributions will encourage them to continue with that same high level of performance. Feeling under-appreciated is one of the most common factors employees cite when they quit. Encourage leadership to weave gratitude into the regular routine.

6. My supervisor tells me when my work needs improvement

This is a tough one for some managers. But, in reality, most employees would rather know that they are under-performing so they have the opportunity to improve well in advance of a formal review. That’s why regular touch-base meetings and project reviews are critical to providing feedback to your employees. Constructive criticism, when properly executed, will strengthen the employee-supervisor relationship and also improve employee performance.


7. My supervisor is open to hearing my feedback or opinion

Train your leadership team to become active listeners. It’s important that the dialogue between supervisor and employee remains a two-way street. Not feeling like one’s feedback or opinion is valued erodes employee engagement and can demotivate employees. Not only that, but managers may be missing out on new ways of thinking and new ideas for process improvement.

8. My supervisor helps me develop to my fullest potential

One of the primary goals of leadership within your organization should be to identify and foster the development of your future leaders. This means investing in and encouraging their professional growth. Having a sense of forward movement and progression is important to many employees and the supervisor is the ideal person to promote that progression.

9. I feel I can trust what my supervisor tells me

Honesty and transparency between supervisor and employee help strengthen trust. A good supervisor will be as open with communication as they are able to be. Without sharing classified information, the supervisor should regularly communicate to his team any changes or developments of initiatives and goals coming from the executive level. Understanding those goals can help employees align their contributions from the top down.

In closing, these nine statements represent the overall satisfaction an employee feels about the relationship he and his supervisor have. This delicate relationship is one to pay close attention to. Invest in training your leaders to be effective and listen closely to what your employees have to say to ensure they remain engaged, productive, and dedicated to the success of your organization.

Learn More

It’s powerful to know what your employees think! You can identify problems like poor supervision, communication breakdown, and mounting plans to leave your company before expensive turnover affects your business.

When you’re ready to learn more about employee survey timelines, process and pricing, schedule a time to meet with one of our employer coaches. We’ll get all your questions answered.

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