Over the last decade or so, there has been a massive swing towards thinking money = motivation. In many businesses, the feeling is, if you pay people more, or give an incentive of a bonus, then you will see an improvement in performance. And while in some situations incentive-based bonuses can work, they very rarely lead to long-term employee motivation and increased productivity. Instead, you get a burst of improvement, and then it all slips back down to where it was before. Equally, whilst money might be a factor in helping people choose jobs, it rarely serves to motivate them to perform better in their current one. This leaves managers pulling their hair out, unsure about how to motivate their employees to perform better. But the secret, known only to the great leaders and managers, is all in understanding what motivates the human mind. But what does that mean?
A few years ago a man called Daniel Pink published a book (Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us), which discussed finding about what motivates people and not one of them has anything to do with money. In fact, he found that people are motivated by 3 things:
- Autonomy: People want to have control over their work
- Mastery: People want to get better at what they do
- Purpose: People want to be part of something that is bigger than they are
Notice that money, salary and bonuses did not make the cut. In fact, Mr Pink suggests that money has no positive effect on increased performance at all, and leaves us with this powerful statement:
“The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.”
So, leading on from these findings, here are some suggestions on how to motivate your employees.
No matter what type of business you run, your staff are a critical part of it. So it makes sense to invest in their development, continuing education (where appropriate) and think about their progression within your business. Not only is this good for your business (helping you create highly skilled employees), but it’s great for morale too and it does not have to be expensive. With a little thought and thinking sometimes laterally training and development opportunities can bring substantial rewards and your employees feel supported and encouraged to grow. After all, if the opportunity for progression and development is offered within their existing role, why would they want to go anywhere else?
Recognition And Praise
Positive recognition for a job done well, contributions to a project or improvements in the workplace is a simple and easy way to motivate your employees. People respond well to positive praise, and the more specific and public the better. Interestingly, how often the praise and reward is offered is more important than its size, so you may find regular, smaller acts of recognition motivate employees more than annual, big gestures. This does not have to be a monetary reward either – being taken out for lunch, made ‘employee of the month’ or simply publicly thanked are all great motivators. Recognition can take on many forms, and it’s essentially down to your management style and how well you know your employees to decide which will work best for them.
Create A Pleasant Working Environment
Psychology 101 – happy employees are generally much more motivated than unhappy ones. So creating a workplace environment that people enjoy spending time in goes a long way towards keeping your employees happy. As well as the basic requirements of space, light, air and hygiene that every workplace should have, you could add extras to make your office a nice place to be. Comfortable office furniture, attractive interior décor, lush indoor plants, good meeting facilities, a well equipped kitchen all contribute towards happier, more productive employees but even more important is the culture you create in your business.
Give Them Control
It’s that first point again – autonomy. People want to have control over their work, instead of being micromanaged. Wherever possible, this means giving your employees the chance to make decisions about their work and how they do it. This could be anything from choosing their own targets and career progression, through to simple things like choosing the corporate charity that year, what topics should be covered in a meeting or even what snacks should be kept in the kitchen. All of this adds up to employees who feel that their opinions matter, and that they can voice their preferences and actually control their own work life.
Create A Community
A sense of community is what takes a business from having employees to having a team and an identifiable culture in your business. By building a sense of community, your employees can feel connected to each other, and not just the business. You could do this by enabling a chat box function at work, or an online forum, but nothing quite beats face-to-face interaction. Encourage your team to eat lunch together sometimes, hold a conference or party to celebrate reaching milestones, and be sure to acknowledge and celebrate everyone’s birthday! By developing a community you improve employee morale, which in turn increases motivation and productivity across the board.
At the end of the day, it is the easy to assume that by giving your employees more money this will motivate them in the way you want. But sadly, it is not always effective, and often only leads to short-term change before going back to the status quo. But by investing in motivational methods that are more about encouraging and supporting the people who work for you, you will see long-term positive results. If you would like some help and support in motivating your employees, or putting any of these suggestions into practice, we would love to help. Just get in touch with me today for your free consultation.