Managers are always looking for new ways to keep their employees loyal and productive. It can be tough for a lot of businesses to retain staff over long periods of time because, let’s face it, if there wasn’t a salary coming in, they wouldn’t be here.
So the question is, how can you create a culture within your organisation where your staff not only feels empowered by the work they do, but also feel a sense of commitment to both their fellow co-workers and you, their manager? With some helpful hints from marketing, psychology and management, your business can ensure that employee turnover goes down and productivity goes up.
It’s time to see your employees in the same way that you already see customers. Every member of your staff has their own complex and unique combination of needs, wants and demands, and in order for them to have see their relationship with you as satisfying, you need to offer them more value. In the same way that a marketer needs to conduct research on their target market, you need to understand what your employees find most important. For some, having access to fresh food in the break room will be more important than a 2% raise, or a monthly dinner with their other co-workers will do more to foster office communication than the implementation of a new messaging service. In the end, you need to ask them what they want. But to help you get there, we’ve done a bit of research.
What motivates employees?
For a lot of people outside of the world of Human Resources, the obvious answer might be money. But you’d be surprised. While financial incentives such as bonuses, stock options and raises can improve employee output, social factors can be a lot more important.
The most important thing for motivating employees is that your staff has an appreciation for the work they are doing. Talent Management says the three biggest things for creating a strong company culture is for there to bes an appreciation of the work they are doing; that they feel like they are an important part of their organisation and that their personal needs are catered for. A study from Gallup and Queens university found that creating positive work culture has 65% greater share-price increase, 26% less employee turnover, 100% more unsolicited employment applications, 20% less absenteeism, 15% greater employee productivity, up to 30% greater customer satisfaction levels. Each of the above metrics would be a significant improvement for any business looking to achieve a strategic advantage.
As your finance manager will tell you, financial incentives, sales trips and contests can be very draining for the budget, and over time the rewards will become expected, rather than motivating.
The first thing that motivates employees is quality leadership. Employees want to know that they can trust their leaders to manage the organisation they’ve committed to in a way that represents their best interests. Trust is a powerful motivational tool because employees know that the work they deliver to managers is going to be rewarded and that their job is secure for the foreseeable future. A great way to establish trust with employees is to manage communication with your staff in a way that is ongoing. Rather than waiting for a project to be completed to give feedback, a manager should provide a continuous feedback loop with their staff. That means that you know where projects are going and staff knows that the direction they’re taking is appreciated by management. Be careful to avoid micromanagement as this can give the sense of being overbearing, but just ask questions about progress and what support the employee needs to meet their deadlines.
Stay up to date
There is a huge body of academic literature out there dedicated to researching what makes employees more committed. There’s no real secret why Apple and Google are often listed as the companies that have the happiest staff; they are at the top of their game with innovative programs and products. But being an innovative force can be difficult for a lot of businesses that work in a more stable industry. However, keeping up to date with the latest industry trends and giving employees the freedom to try new ways to complete their work will give them a sense of power over their work and feel less restricted by a sense of the bureaucratic process. If you let your employees fulfill their potential, then you’ll see them come up new ways to improve efficiency. This will ultimately reduce operating costs and help you take on more work. Just make sure they have the freedom to fail, as long as they can recover quickly.
Create multi-tier targets
A great way to motivate your sales force is to give them clear objectives that are realistic and a clear path for how to achieve them. Managers should offer a solution by creating a tiered system for objectives, where it is not only the top performers that are rewarded, but also the engine room of your company. Ultimately, not everyone can come first, which is why you need to understand how to keep the number 2, 5 and 10 guys coming in again and again to work. Set them a number of goals.
Firstly, set your first quota at the point where the majority of company sales targets have been reached, the second quota where a small percentage have reached and a third tier target where your top sales guns operate. Forbes Magazine has found that the change in organisational culture can create case studies with a huge impact in the performance of salespeople. Create a system where only laggards are pointed out as falling behind, but consistent performers being rewarded can have real results for your company. Offer rewards according to the level attained; the top tier may have to incur some costs. However, for the first and second tiers to be different and not simply watered-down versions, motivate the laggard by enabling them to feel good about making improvements.
Natural social cohesion
Once you’ve created a culture where your employees feel trusted, empowered to push the boundaries of normal practice and you have an official reward system in place, you can look for a sociological push to achieve a long-term solution for motivation. Humans are social animals, and maintaining the group dynamic is important for many people. Once you have fostered a culture where people work on their own projects with zeal and stay late to work, others will naturally begin to follow suit. Harvard Business Review found that when the above changes were implemented, the largest improvement was seen in the group that was previously the lowest performing. The laggards who see the success of their peers reaching the realistic benchmarks wanted to avoid the social stigma of continued underperformance and improved their output by 5%; a happy growth number for any organisation.
Once you’ve implemented the above program, make sure you communicate to all of the managers what your strategic goal is for the workforce. Make sure that every department has a clear understanding of the objectives and how you plan on achieving these goals. Avoiding inconsistency will ensure your staff doesn’t receive mixed messages and your organisation will begin to operate as the fine-tuned machine that you’ve always envisioned.