Regardless of the quality of service or product, the company offering it isn’t going to succeed without the help of its employees. When its employees are highly motivated, a company can easily face all hurdles from the competition and fluctuating market conditions. When its workforce is de-motivated, however, the company risks its very existence regardless of the bright business prospects it may have.
Motivating employees is important in order to keep them productive. Whether it is a simple praise for a job well done or a costly incentive like a paid vacation package, management efforts on employee motivation always reflect positively on the company’s bottom line. For this reason, business owners need to adopt policies and institute programs that boost employee morale and increase motivation.
There are two forms of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is internal and involves getting an employee personally interested in performing his job to the best of his abilities. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation refers to external promptings for the employee to do a good job.
Developing Intrinsically Motivated Employees
Intrinsically motivated employees work because their jobs give them pleasure and a sense of fulfillment. They have to like and appreciate their job to be motivated to put in their best. Otherwise, even a lucrative salary and a host of perks can lead to job dissatisfaction and eventual resignation, if not poor performance and a stressed life.
To develop intrinsic motivation in employees, give them a definite purpose and build their passion for their work. They need to be challenged and given the opportunity to own their jobs. They should be encouraged to innovate and explore ways by which they can maximize their potentials for the greater good of everyone. And most of all, they should believe in the excellence of the company and its products and services so they feel proud to be part of it.
While the business owners or their HR manager starts the motivation process by giving employees their duties and responsibilities, it is crucial for the immediate supervisor to monitor not only an employee’s quality of performance and output but also his motivation level and participation in the team’s activities. All employees should be encouraged to share what they think about new plans or projects. This is a clear signal that their contribution is recognized and that their opinion matters. As a result, their self-esteem rises and they are encouraged to contribute even more for the growth of the company.
Providing Extrinsic Motivation to Employees
Most companies strive hard to provide external motivation to their employees because they know that employees are inspired to work harder if they can look forward to awards, incentives, bonuses, and other forms of rewards. It is best for a company to develop a comprehensive program for its incentives scheme to include sales contests and the like where the goals and expected results are clearly stated. Awards are usually monetary in nature: cash bonuses or anything with financial value such as gift certificates, exotic trips, and even cars.
The motivational needs of employees differ from each other, however. A good manager must understand what makes each staff member tick and reward the employee accordingly. Sometimes, the pecuniary reward is not enough for or does not matter at all to an employee who values recognition and appreciation more. For such cases, it becomes necessary for an incentive program to include the awarding of plaques, trophies, pins, and other symbols of recognition.
Motivating employees is an important function of management takes concerted time and effort to be successful. Employers need to keep their workforce highly motivated to achieve their business goals. Employers and business owners can do so only if they develop the right strategies and have supportive policies in place.
A good place to work begins with a good workspace. You’ve brought on the best people possible to help you grow your company but have you considered how to make them as comfortable as possible while they’re there?
Good ergonomics has a direct affect on your employees’ ability and willingness to do their work. People can’t do their best work if they’re sitting in poor chairs, working on wobbly desks and always too cold or too hot. A well designed office space reduces employee stress and injury claims. Here are six tips that you can implement to improve your office space.
Tip 1 – Furniture: Is it adjustable enough to accommodate everyone. Is the shortest person straining to reach and the tallest person stooping? Do you have foot stools, cushions and even exercise balls available for everyone to use? Reduce injuries by ensuring that everyone has a well-fitted workspace.
Is there enough furniture and equipment for each team member? Successfully sharing a desk or cubicle can be very tricky especially over the long term. Remember trying to share a bedroom with a sibling? That didn’t always go smoothly did it?
Is the furniture in good repair? It doesn’t have to be stylish and colour coordinated or even new for that matter but it does have to be in good working order. If something is broken, act quickly to replace or repair it.
Tip 2 – Office Area: Is the office area arranged with areas for privacy and quiet work as well as with other places for brainstorming and group work? Open office concepts have become very common in today’s work environment. They do foster a strong sense of teamwork and provide for more effective communication. But be careful that you’ve got a place for all types of work preferences and needs. Some types of work, like writing for example, require quiet concentration while other work like team meetings and idea sessions is better achieved in a more interactive and open area. You need to accommodate both. Imagine how stressful you’d become if you were trying to compose a piece of marketing material in the same room as others were holding a concept meeting or storyboarding a project?
Tip 3 – Lighting: Is it too bright or too dark? The glare from computer screens, white boards and poor overhead lighting can lead to eye strain, headaches and even nausea. Consider providing softer or dimmer overhead lighting and then providing individual desk lamps. Each team member can adjust the lamp and even replace the bulbs to best meet his or her own needs. You can cover white boards when they’re not being used and provide employees with glare shields for their computer screens.
When you are selecting your furniture, desk tops and even paint and draperies, keep in mind how the colours and surfaces will reflect the light. Darker colours and rougher surfaces reflect less light and create less glare than lighter smoother surfaces.
Is there enough natural lighting? Are there enough windows or skylights to provide enough natural daylight into the office? In addition to providing the best light, windows also offer a view. Even if it’s just to a parking lot or another building, being able to see outside is important for your employees’ sense of wellbeing and offers a welcome break from hours at a computer screen.
Tip 4 – Fresh Air: Do the windows open? Can you imagine living in a house with windows that didn’t open? And they don’t even have to open directly to the outside, just into an atrium or centre court area. The slight breeze that they let in will keep your office spaces from becoming stuffy and stale.
Tip 5 – A/C and Heating: Is the air conditioning system too cold or the heating system too hot? This is a common complaint among office employees. It’s difficult to use a keyboard while you’re wearing mittens or to help a customer when you’re so overcome with the heat that you might faint. Ensure that the heating and cooling systems are working efficiently and creating a consistent, comfortable temperature.
Tip 6 – Real Life: Do you have real plants in the area? Like the open the windows, real plants help to filter the air in your office. They also help soften the look and feel of the modern office and make it more comfortable and welcoming.
Keeping your employees comfortable while they’re at work is important to their sense of engagement and commitment to your business. Your efforts in this area let your people know that you care enough to provide for their safety and wellbeing.
And it’s good for business. You want your team to be concentrating on your customers not trying to get their chair adjusted or repaired.
As business owners, we’re all on the look out for our ideal client. We’ve gone through the rigorous process of identifying our best clients down to the smallest detail and have created a marketing strategy designed to target, attract and entice those specific people who will eventually become our best clients and raving fans.
So why aren’t you doing the same thing to attract your ideal employees? You know that great employees are just as important to your business as great clients but why are you re-inventing the wheel to find them? The process is actually very similar and smart business owners can learn a lot from their marketing strategy that will help them identify, find, and recruit the best people into their organization.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s start with the overall goal for each strategy. The goal of your marketing strategy is to create a pool of qualified and motivated prospects. These are the people on your mailing list. They may not be ready to buy your product or service just yet but eventually they will be and right now they’re interested in keeping in touch. You need to constantly work at creating this pool of prospects so that you can save time and money by specifically targeting your marketing activities to people already very likely to do business with you.
Your recruiting goal is almost exactly the same; to create a pool of qualified and motivated candidates. These are the people who are already keen to hear more about working for your company. They may not have the necessary experience or training at this point but they will eventually so you need to keep them interested in signing on with you. And just like creating a pool of interested prospects saves you advertising dollars, having a “go-to” group of candidates when you have a position to fill will save you lots of recruiting dollars. With the right pool of qualified and motivated candidates ready to hear from you, you could potentially fill any position with a single phone call. How’s that for a money saver!
So now let’s look at how you can leverage some of your marketing strategy activities. When you created your marketing strategy, first you needed to identify your ideal candidate and decide how best to reach them. Then you needed to create marketing material that educates your prospects about the benefits of working with your business. Once they’ve made a purchase, you ensure that you provide the excellent customer service experience that creates loyal customers and finally you’ve developed a referral program that keeps your customers eager to recommend your business to others.
You can create an entire recruiting strategy in the same way as you created your marketing strategy.
- Identify your ideal candidate by looking at your corporate culture and plans for your company’s growth
- Reach your ideal candidate by knowing who they are, what they do, and what they enjoy.
- Attract and motivate them by creating recruiting materials that educate. These are your Job Descriptions, Job Ads and Careers webpage. Remember, these days the old “Help Wanted” ad just doesn’t work any better than a stale sales pitch does.
- Provide the excellent employee experience and support that creates loyal employees. These are your suggestion programs, benefits packages, reward and recognition programs etc. Keeping your employees happy is just as important to your business success as keeping your customers happy.
- Implement a referral program that creates the raving employees who readily and eagerly refer your organization to their friends and family. Just like a referral program grows your base of potential clients, it will help you create that pool of great candidates you need.
Your marketing and recruiting strategies have very similar goals; create a pool of people who are qualified and motivated. You can save countless hours and dollars by simply reworking your marketing activities into an effective and efficient recruiting strategy.
Step 1: Determine your goal. People usually approach creating a survey by immediately starting to create questions. But without a clear goal you can’t know what questions to ask or how you’ll interpret the results. Set the goal first. Is this survey for determining employee engagement or satisfaction levels or are we trying to solicit ideas and suggestions about a particular topic or situation?
Step 2: Identify the major areas that you want to measure and ask yourself, “Do the areas of the survey align with our organization’s mission statement, goals, and/or business strategies?” They should. If they don’t clearly relate, the whole project will be viewed as just PR or worse, a make-work project for already busy people.
Step 3: Now you can start to create the survey. But a survey isn’t just questions. An effective survey is actually a package of material that includes the questions but also the instructions, timelines, a scale for responses (1 = good, 5 = bad), open-ended questions (for employees to provide details) and areas for “Additional Comments” so employees can begin discussions on topics that weren’t covered in the survey.
Wording should be consistent, either always positive (this is the best type of question) or always negative (can’t think why you’d use this one). Mixing up the perspective of the questions often creates anxiety and confusion for the people taking the survey and will often result in inaccurate responses (especially in the rated questions) because the rating scale becomes confusing.
Step 4: Conduct the Survey. Ensure that you have offered enough time for participants to give enough thought to their replies and to complete the survey when it fits best into their schedule. You’ll get better responses if your employees are not rushed or stressed.
Surveys should be conducted when the information gathered can be best acted upon. For example, if you’re conducting a survey to gather ideas/suggestions for cost savings, then conduct the survey far enough in advance of creating the Business Plan as possible. This ensures that you’re able to evaluate all of the suggestions and budget to implement the one’s selected. There’s no point in asking for input after the decisions are made.
Step 5: Evaluate and Report the Findings. Some organizations also shy away from conducting surveys during stressful times for the organization, either during a particular crisis or during contract negotiations etc. I believe however that this is one of the best times to gather information. You’ll certainly get the most frank feedback. The key to this success though is to ask as few questions as possible (2-3) so as to not take up too much time to complete but make them REALLY count. And phrase the questions in such a way that they encourage detailed feedback versus a simple yes/no answer.
Challenge to conducting an employee survey. A well designed employee survey can and should take time, money and resources to create and conduct, but the key point to remember here is to not let your team get too bogged down in this fact. If you’re new to employee surveys, start small, ask a few pertinent questions within a specific area and go from there. The important point is to start asking so you can answer and act accordingly.
And remember, conducting the survey includes evaluating and communicating the results so a smaller, shorter survey will be more easy for your team to quickly and accurately evaluate and, again, answer and act upon.
Small business owners and their management team of senior employees are often the first people in the company to take on the role of Trainer. These people have the most expertise in the business and embody the positive corporate culture that needs to be passed on to others within the organization. With current employees ready to learn more about the business and take on greater responsibilities and with new employees who need to learn their job, owners and management are now expected to conduct an array of different training workshops and seminars on various topics.
As the Trainer, you want your seminars and workshops to go well and you want your staff to leave them feeling motivated, empowered and positive. So, to that end, you’ve gone through all of the steps you need to take to create a really effective training program. But honestly, the thought of having to stand up in front of all those people and speak just makes your teeth ache. In fact, you’d probably rather have a root canal. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
You’ve seen advice columns, books, and websites that offer topics like the “Top 10 Public Speaking Tips”, the “Seven Golden Rules to Public Speaking”, or the “Seven Tips for Effective Speeches”. And yes, they’re full of useful information like:
- Speak slowly/clearly/loudly/softly
- Smile!/look serious and professional
- Don’t read your speech/use your notes
- Use humour/don’t use humour
- Use quotes/don’t use quotes
- And on and on…
You’ll notice too that one person’s advice tends to contradict another’s. So, really, what is it that distinguishes a great speaker from the average? Why do we marvel at the ability of one presenter and puzzle at the inability of another? There are ONLY two reasons why one speaker maintains our interest and excites our passions more than another. That person possesses a:
- Deep belief that what they are saying is right.
- Conviction that the people they are speaking to need to know what they are saying.
Believing to your core that what you are saying is right will give you the confidence to state your case clearly and concisely. Remember, you’re the expert or you wouldn’t be speaking in the first place. Your topic and your passion for it will automatically put your voice to the appropriate volume, speed and inflection. You’ll automatically become animated or somber as the topic requires. You’ll be emotionally involved and so too will your audience.
You must also believe that the people you are speaking to have a real need to know what you know. With this belief, the explanations and arguments that will convince your audience of why they should “buy into” your business processes and ideology, will come naturally.
These two beliefs, held and practised, will control and direct your energy from nervous to passionate. Your notes will become only quick reminders of your topic headings because you’ll know the content like a mantra. It’s your training program, it’s your experience, and they’re your ideas that you’re sharing with your participants. You know them. You’ll be too busy engaging your employees to fumble with index cards and jangle the change in your pocket.
And finally, nobody is sitting in your audience thinking, “Boy I hope this guy’s boring so I can complain all day.” Remember, your staff want you to succeed as much as you do.
“Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?”
Thomas John Watson, Sr. (February 17, 1874 – June 19, 1956) was the president of International Business Machines (IBM), who oversaw that company’s growth into an international force from 1914 to 1956. Watson developed IBM’s renowned management style and corporate culture, and turned the company into one of the most effective selling organizations yet seen, based largely around punched card tabulating machines. A leading self-made industrialist, he was one of the richest men of his time and was called the world’s greatest salesman when he died in 1956.
“I had this great team working with me in my company before the recession and now, the few people I have left are scared, disengaged and disillusioned. How do I get back that positive Corporate Culture I had before the recession?”
That’s a question I’m getting asked often lately. And I’m not surprised. With the economy the way it’s been for the last 18 months or so, even the best run companies have had to resort to some unpopular strategies to stay afloat. With benefits cut back, hours reduced, wages rolled back and even layoffs, it’s easy to see how the employees you have left are feeling uneasy and even resentful.
You know that your most valuable asset is your team and that when your team isn’t functioning as well as it could be it shows. You can see it in their attitude, their productivity, in the level of customer service being given and eventually in your bottom line.
So what now? How do you get back that engaged and motivated team that you had going into the recession?
First and foremost, remember that this situation isn’t really about motivating or engaging your employees. It’s about regaining your employees’ trust. Trust is the foundation of all human relationships even business relationships. It is also the toughest aspect of any relationship to rebuild once lost. Only when you have regained their trust, will the motivation and engagement follow. And there’s now silver bullet here either. Regaining your team’s trust will be a process that takes time. You can start the process now by taking these five steps to begin mending the bridge.
- Improve communications with your team. Be grateful and thankful. Explain that you know it’s been hard and that you really do appreciate their having stuck it out with you. Be open, honest and transparent at all times. You need to share the good, the bad and the ugly and be prepared to hear just how disgruntled your people have really become. This type of discussion, though uncomfortable for some, is good for all of you. Good for your employees because they can get “it” off their collective chest and good for you because you’ll get to really hear what’s on their mind instead of sitting in your office trying to guess.
- Ask them how they’d like you to proceed. Don’t assume that because you’d be motivated by a specific prize or reward that everyone else will. Offering rewards or bringing back programs that the employees don’t highly value will only serve to deepen their distrust and convince them that you’re not really interested in their opinions or well-being. Find out what changes they would like to see. Which benefits or programs that were cut would they like to see reinstated first? Are there new programs they would like to see introduced?
- Put a specific plan of action in place. Developing and implementing a plan with your staff demonstrates your commitment to the rebuilding process and focuses everyone’s attention on the future. Once you and your employees have determined which programs to reinstate, discuss the when and how. Ask your employees to come up with ideas and timetables for implementing these programs. A clear plan for moving forward gives your team benchmarks and sets expectations.
- Your word, now more than ever, has got to be as good as gold. Trust is built when we keep our promises. Be dependable. Consciously and consistently work to rebuild your credibility among your staff. You must do everything that you say you will do.
- Keep the process moving forward. I’ve already mentioned that a clear plan of action keeps everyone focused on the future but you, as the business owner and team leader, will have to make a concerted effort to always be communicating in terms of where the company is going, not where it’s been. Some of your staff will want to dwell in the past a bit longer than others, but you can’t let yourself get caught up in those discussions. Keep the conversation and the company looking into a bright future.
Once lost, trust can be very difficult to recapture and you won’t win back everyone. There will be those on your team who prefer to move on and take other opportunities and you have to come to terms with that. But taking the five steps I’ve discussed here will greatly improve your odds of winning over most of your employees and from there you and your team can continue to re-establish the corporate culture you all enjoyed before the recession.
It can be a challenge for small business owners to find and hire the best talent. You probably don’t have the recruiting resources that larger companies have at their disposal and you often have to ask the few people that you do employee to fill multiple roles.
If you’ve got a position that you needed to fill quickly and that has been vacant for some time, then you’re also starting to wonder if you’ll ever find the right person. The natural instinct in these cases is to start to quietly panic and rush into an employment situation that, in the long run, isn’t at all suitable for you or the candidate.
The key to not panicking is to remember that a vacant position is always better than a badly staffed position. A poor hiring choice will cost you more in lost customers, bad PR, destroyed employee morale and reduced revenues than it ever will in salary alone. And, when the employee quits or you finally fire him, you have to spend more time and money going through the hiring process all over again.
To avoid that urge to rush into a hiring decision, ask yourself if any of the following three reasons is really your motive for finally making an offer of employment.
“You’re hiring this person because:
- …they have a pulse.” Maybe they were the only person who answered your ad or who agreed to work for the salary you can afford to pay right now. Sometimes the labour market is such that there aren’t enough qualified candidates to go around and those that are out there are expecting a salary too far out of your budget. Take some time to review your job description and requirements as well as your budget. Can you live without a specific skill or can you squeeze a bit more out of your budget? If you really need someone with a specific skill, consider hiring a candidate with the best attitude and then train them in the desired skill. Now, you can offer a salary that’s within your current budget and train this person meet your specific skill needs while on the job.
- …you owe someone a favour.” Yes referrals are a great way to hire great people. When your employees are happy to invite their friends and family to work with them in the organization, it’s a sure sign that you’ve created a motivating, welcoming and employee-friendly culture. Good for you. If, on the other hand, the person being referred to you is less than qualified, don’t make the mistake of hiring them just because he is the son/brother/husband/uncle etc of someone you feel obliged to. Remember what we said about a vacant position being better than a badly staffed one. Just explain to your employee who made the referral that, while you appreciate their willingness to make the referral, you don’t currently have a position that will take full advantage of their son’s (or brother’s, husband’s uncle’s, etc) talents and that you’ll keep him in mind for future opportunities.
- …if you have to do one more interview you’ll scream!” Yes, the hiring process can be tiresome and frustrating. But, a well designed and implemented hiring process isn’t. Leverage the marketing strategies that you’re already using to grow your business to ensure that you find the best possible employees. Start by identifying your ideal employee and targeting your job ads specifically toward them. Take a systematic approach to wading through that mountain of resumes so that you can quickly get to the best candidates and then use Behavioural Interview techniques to really get to know the individual sitting across the desk and determine if they’re going to be a good fit for your company.
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then stop now and re-evaluate your decision. Again, a vacant position is better than a badly staffed position. It’s much better to wait for the right person to come along. And don’t panic, they will.
If you hire a person with the right attitude and provide them with the right training, avoid hiring people as a favour to others and instead take a marketing approach to your employee search, you’ll find that it’s easier than you thought to get the right people into your company.
For most employers, especially small business owners without a dedicated HR department, online recruiting has become their main source for finding qualified candidates. But where to start? With so many online options available today and with so many sales reps from online recruiting companies trying to get you to sign up for their program, how do you really know which online recruiting method or internet site is right for you?
The problem of “where” to look for your best candidates is usually rooted in the problem of not knowing exactly “who” you are looking for. Before you can even begin to select the appropriate recruiting method, online or otherwise, you need to clearly identify the type of person that you are looking for and then narrow down the places that they’re most likely to see your ad. Knowing how to properly target your job ad is critical in capturing the attention of your best possible candidates. Carefully placing your ad is even more important if you’re on a budget, and who isn’t? You don’t want to waste time and money putting expensive ads everywhere that won’t reach your target audience.
Once you know the “who”, the “where” starts to narrow itself down. Here are 5 online recruiting methods that will get you the candidates that you’re looking for.
Online Recruiting Method #1 – Use your website for recruiting new hires. Just like your organization’s website is often the first impression you make on a potential client, your Career Opportunities page is often a potential employee’s first look at what you have to offer. Make it count. Create a website that markets your organization as an Employer of Choice in much the same way you would use your website to market your products and services. Remember to speak in terms of benefits not features and explain the advantages to your potential employee of choosing your organization over another. You can even Include pictures (even videos) of the people in your organization working and playing. Add testimonials from your current employees about how they enjoy being a part of your organization. These will work just like your client testimonials in your marketing material.
Unfortunately, most small and medium-sized businesses usually have their careers or job opportunities page buried too deeply within their site and the candidate needs to go to a lot of effort to find it and apply for a position.
Online Recruiting Method #2 – Post job listings on professional association websites to find new employees. There are guilds, groups, associations and networking affiliations for everything from architects to zoologists so with a little investigation and a few keyword Google searches you can find any number of websites catering to your target employee. Better yet, if you find local chapter websites for these national sites, post a job listing on these.
You can also use the information on these sites to research salary ranges, typical job descriptions, benefits programs and educational requirements. This information will help you offer the best possible work experience for your new hire.
Online Recruiting Method #3 – Career Services websites like Monster, Workopolis and TheLadders, are excellent places to post job listings. Again though, keep in mind who you are trying to attract. Some Career Services cater to specific industries, professions and experience and salary levels. Finding a Career Services site that targets your industry or niche will greatly increase your odds of getting noticed by the right candidates. And you can often “try-before-you-buy” at these sites as well so take advantage of this kind of offer. If you can, have a look at some of the resumes that they have on file to be sure that they’ll match your needs.
Online Recruiting Method #4 – If you need to hire someone with a degree or other higher level education, then have a look at college, university and alumni association websites. These sites often have career sections in their websites for both new grads as well as their experienced alumni. You could also supplement this type of online recruiting technique by presenting at their job fairs and career days activities.
Online Recruiting Method #5 – And finally, don’t forget the Social Networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. These types of sites are becoming increasingly popular for both employees and employers looking to hook up. Both of these sites also offer opportunities for you to create a second online presence for your company in addition to your regular website. Take advantage of this secondary web presence to emphasize the many and varied career opportunities available with your company and begin creating that pool of qualified candidates that your business will need to grow.
As I said earlier, once you know the “who”, the “where” starts to narrow itself down. These five online recruiting methods: using your own website, posting on professional and academic websites, signing on with internet career sites and using Social Networks to gain attention are guaranteed to find you qualified candidates but only IF you know who you are looking for. You never find what you don’t know you’re looking for.
The biggest job we have is to teach a newly hired employee how to fail intelligently. We have to train him to experiment over and over and to keep on trying and failing until he learns what will work. Charles F. Kettering
Charles Franklin Kettering (August 29, 1876 – November 24 or November 25, 1958) was an American inventor and the holder of 140 patents. He was a founder of Delco, and was head of research for General Motors for 27 years from 1920 to 1947. Among his most widely used automotive inventions were the electrical starting motor and leaded gasoline. In association with the DuPont Chemical Company, he was also responsible for the invention of Freon refrigerant for refrigeration and air conditioning systems. as well as for the development of Duco lacquers and enamels, the first practical colored paints for mass-produced automobiles. In 1927, he founded the Kettering Foundation, a non-partisan research foundation.