SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — Small-business leaders believe that the work environment has more impact on employee satisfaction than financial factors such as benefits or compensation, according to a quarterly survey of more than 250 small businesses conducted for TriNet, a provider of human-resources outsourcing services to small businesses.The HR Trends Survey indicates that more than 75% of small-business leaders believe employee morale has held steady or improved in the second quarter of 2009. The largest group of respondents (41%) believes that employee morale in their companies hasn’t changed from this time last year. Of the remaining respondents, 34% think employee morale has improved, while 24% said it declined.Most small-business leaders (36%) pointed to the company culture and reputation as the biggest contributor to employee morale. Other factors included flexibility and work/life balance (23%), and job security (22.3%). Most small-business leaders didn’t believe advancement opportunities, benefits or compensation affected employee morale, at 4%, 5% and 9%, respectively.Sixty percent of leaders said that they have instilled a positive perspective of the company in employees through good communication and quality management practices.“These results prove that employees are happier and more likely to stay with their companies due to the quality of their management,” says Burton M. Goldfield, president and chief executive officer of TriNet. “Companies that develop the skills of their leaders boost employee morale, which then positively contributes to the company’s overall employment brand.”Goldfield also recommends paying attention to fundamentals such as benefits and payroll, as they help make up the foundation of a thriving company culture. A compensation package that covers work-environment and financial factors, such as a comprehensive benefits package, can help maintain employee perceptions of the company regardless of economic conditions, TriNet says.