Employee Motivation Is Not One-Size-Fits-All

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Your workforce is rich and diverse with different passions and priorities. It stands to reason, then, that your workforce would also be highly diverse in what motivates it. When evaluating your employee engagement program, keep in mind that there are many tangible and intangible incentives to choose from that will have a varied impact on individual employees.

Focus on delivering programs that meet employee needs has been shown to have a positive impact on employee engagement with subsequent influence on performance and retention.

Here are a few ideas that motivate many employees:
  • Cash and cashless tangible gifts – This is the first area many consider when thinking about incentives and includes bonuses, gift catalogues, travel and gift cards. A recent survey found that the best in class companies are more likely to use non-cash incentives.
  • Celebrations – Celebrating successful completion of milestones enhances team spirit, reinforces high performance, and provides an opportunity to communicate to employees about how and why their efforts matter. The break in routine and the informal atmosphere of a celebration also create and environment of warmth and community that most employees value.
  • Individualised development – Managers who take the time to understand their employees’ strengths and interests and assign them work they enjoy create a win-win situation. Employees are motivated by the individual attention as well as the opportunity to work in areas that interest them, and so they are far more likely to perform well.
  • Coach for success – In a recent post, Raxor Suleman urged managers to “be a coach, not just a boss”. Employees are empowered to give their best when they work with managers in setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals, understand clearly what is expected of them, and receive regular, objective feedback on how they are doing.
  • Public recognition – This very powerful and inexpensive motivator is frequently underutilised. Recognition can take many forms, including formal recognition programs, peer-to-peer recognition, and informal performance feedback and reinforcement given on the spot by managers and supervisors. We often forget the power of a simple “thank you” for a job well done. When praising employee performance, be specific about exactly what they did and, if possible, include the positive impact the performance had on the team, department, customers, or organisation. This will reinforce the message and spur the employee and others on to more of the same.

How can you find out what best motivates your employees? Ask them!

Just the mere practice of having a one-to-one discussion between manager and employee about their passions, values, and personal goals is a strong motivator. Why? Because it shows that you care. It transforms the perception of the organisation as a large impersonal machine using its employees as faceless cogs into a more personal relationship where individuals are respected, recognised and valued.

And it isn’t that hard to do – just make it an expected part of the conversation during performance review or employee development discussions. Managers can ask open ended questions such as:
  • What do you like most about your job? Less?
  • What keeps you here?
  • What might motivate you to move to another company?
  • What projects or positions most interest you?
  • What are some ways that you think the company could show its appreciation to its employees who are doing a good job?

Managers should keep notes and share information about possible incentives, career aspirations as well as retention risks so the larger organisation can take action, if appropriate. If your organisation has an integrated talent management system, managers can keep track of these things online and the information can be rolled up to inform decisions about retention programs, incentive programs, and succession planning.

Although all employees want to be respected, recognised, and appreciated, there are many ways an organisation can express these things. Consider using an array of varied incentives to best motivate your employees and teams. 

[Source: http://www.incentivemag.com/]