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.
There are many strategies for rewarding employees, and they all do tend to accomplish the same thing. Employees who are recognized for their contributions are encouraged to keep performing at that level. And for those employees who are only average, incentives can and do motivate them to improve. Here are some of the basic requirements for a well-received Employee Reward Program.
Maintain the Program
The most important element in employee reward programs is to follow through. If you’re going to take the time to implement a program, then the very least you can do is maintain that program. There is nothing more disheartening to an employee than to have strived toward a reward that suddenly no longer exists. Once you start an employee reward program, maintain that program.
Make the Rules Easy
Make any guidelines for achieving a reward very clear. For example, if you’d like to give out a $100 gift certificate to your ‘Employee of the Month’ each and every month, then you’d better define what Employee of the Month actually means. If the reward goes to the person with the highest customer satisfaction score, let all your employees know this from the outset of the program.
At the same time, your employees need to know what actions will disqualify them from the program. Perhaps chronic lateness, maybe being late three days out of the month, will serve to disqualify an employee from the running that month. That’s fair enough, as long as your employees know that ahead of time. In addition to being fair to the employees, being specific regarding qualifications lets everyone know what they should strive for. Perhaps the employee who is late once a week will make an effort to be on time, knowing that a reward might hang in the balance.
Offer Valued Rewards
There are many choices regarding what you can offer as a reward. Monthly rewards work best, most of the time. It’s a reasonable amount of time in which to earn a reward, and it gives everyone a chance. The specific reward program will vary based on your company profile and your budget. It’s important to ask your employees for input about what they consider a valuable reward for the effort. Some possible suggestions include:
Printing up several blank form letters designed to congratulate employees. These can be very simple, with spaces for the date and the employee name. Give a stack to each supervisor or manager. When an employee goes above and beyond, they receive a letter. Photocopy this letter for your own files, and the employee who collects the most letters in a given month wins.
Having tokens custom made for your company, perhaps resembling poker chips. These tokens can be rewarded based on whatever scale you decide, and then employees can trade them in for various rewards. In order for this to work, you must come up with a list of rewards prior to launching this program.
Team Rewards are an Option
If your organization has several locations or departments, you can consider group or team rewards. Groups like to win, and competition can bring out the best in your employees. A group lunch is a good reward for the winner of these competitions, but feel free to get more creative. Perhaps ask for input from the employees. They might have some good ideas for valuable rewards.
These are only a few ideas for how you can reward your employees. Get creative, and remember that the cost of these programs is usually minimal, and is well worth the effort. Everyone likes to be recognized, and employee reward programs are a wonderful way to boost production.
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.
“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.
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.
Determining your organization’s culture is key to attracting and retaining the type of employee that will help move the company forward. The fact is that we all prefer to work with people who work and think like we do. So we have to really be clear on how we work and think before starting to hire our employees.
To help define your ideal corporate culture, try to imagine your company as if it were a person. For the most part it is a person anyway, it’s you, but think of how you’d describe it and right this down on paper. What are the characteristics of this person? Are they innovative and imaginative? Are they all about providing great customer service? Are they casual, elegant, upscale, rural, urban? What are their favourite colours? What are their values, opinions and beliefs? Write these descriptions down because they’re all part of “who” this company is.
To make the most of your rewards program, ensure that the perceived value of the reward is equal to the value of the suggestion. A coffee mug or gift certificate for dinner would not be seen as adequate reward for a suggestion that has saved your organization tens of thousands of dollars. Your employees need to believe that the value of the reward is worth the effort of making the suggestion and aligns with the money they see your organization either saving or making as a result of the reward. If they don’t, they won’t bother to make the suggestions and contribute the ideas that you need to grow your company.