This might surprise you, but I think companies that focus on "employee satisfaction" are missing the boat. This post has been brewing for a good long time, and this article challenging the notion that happy workers equate with a fatter bottom line brought it to the surface.
Every time I see a study on employee satisfaction, I look at the percentages and think, "What is that really measuring?" Because quite honestly, I think what satisfaction often means is "things are good enough." "Yeah, I'm pretty satisfied here. It's not bad." It reflects employees who feel like they've got it reasonably good, so they don't see much reason to complain.
What I want to know is what would the answer be if the question were, "Do you feel on fire about the work that you do? Does it energize you? Does it make you feel alive?" From what I've seen out there, I can guarantee that the percentage that answer yes to that would be a fraction of the percentage that would answer yes to "Are you satisfied."
Satisfied employees don't fuel the bottom line. Satisfied employees maintain a good status quo and a great foundation to build on. Having satisfied employees is obviously not a bad thing, but in my mind it's also only the starting point.
The real rocket ride comes with employees who get so much energy out of the work they do that they can't help but function at peak performance. Engaged employees have been proven to increase profits, productivity, employee happiness and retention, and customer satisfaction (see here and here, for example).
So forget the employee satisfaction surveys. Show me the employee passion surveys!