How to keep employees motivated

If people believe that the organisation they work for values their contribution and wants to involve them in important things, they are much more likely to feel motivated. This usually means seeking, listening to, and responding to employees’ views and suggestions, and including them in decision-making. Organisations can be good at communicating top-down to their employees, but less proficient at encouraging and dealing with upward communication.

Another facet of feeling valued is a belief that the organisation cares about staff wellbeing: so when it talks about health and safety, or equal opportunities, or work-life balance, it really means what it says and has strategies to ensure that the policies are translated into action.

Different people, different motivators

The ‘big three’, feeling valued and involved; good jobs; and having engaging line managers and leaders, are always important. However, organisations should be wary of a one-size-fits-all approach. People are individuals, so it is important for line managers to get to know and understand their staff in order to motivate them in different ways: one might need a lot of reassurance, another would prefer to be given a challenge and left alone to tackle it, while another likes public recognition for good performance. Assumptions about what will motivate staff can be dangerous, so talk to employees, and ask.

An employee’s role is also likely to impact on what motivates them. An expert (in whatever field) will be motivated by opportunities to practice and demonstrate their expertise, and to teach and develop others. For example, people in customer-facing roles will be motivated by giving a good service, which, in turn, might mean being empowered to use their initiative in dealing with customer queries rather than always following a standard script. Staff in support roles will feel more motivated if they can see the point of what they do. This might involve occasional days out of the back-room environment, to see what happens on the front line.

Pay and benefits:

Usually, the actual level of pay and benefits is less important than pay equity and perceptions of fairness in comparison with colleagues or with similar external jobs. Many organisations work hard to try to communicate the value of the overall package to their staff, and feel understandably frustrated when their efforts do not seem to be appreciated. Pay has long been considered to be a hygiene factor: if you get it wrong, people will be very upset, but if you get it right, you won’t be thanked.

However, there are some occasions when pay and benefits will prove to be a motivator. First, pay really matters to low-paid staff with little disposable income and this group might easily move to a rival employer for what seems like a trivial pay rise.

Second, the long-lasting recession has had a big impact on job moves, with people staying put rather than risking a change. Those who do move often do careful calculations about the benefits of moving, so a clear demonstration of the value of the overall package could be a worthwhile activity.

Do not forget the demotivators:

Sadly, even highly engaged people can become demotivated if something goes wrong. Highest on the list is a broken promise, for example, not delivering on an expected promotion, an exciting project, or a secondment. Even with honesty and sensitive handling, the damage might be irreparable.

Another demotivator is the belief that an organisation (usually personified by the senior team) does not care about staff and their views. This is common when change is imposed without consulting or informing staff, or, even worse, organising phoney ‘consultation’ sessions in which staff participate enthusiastically, only for their views to be ignored. Cynicism will set in very quickly and will then be hard to shift.

Having a bad line manager can be highly demotivating. The worst types of managerial behaviour include: bullying, micro-managing, blaming staff instead of taking responsibility, being muddled and confused when giving directions, taking personal glory for the team’s work, and being constantly gloomy and pessimistic. Being managed badly typically leads to risk-averse behaviour among staff, which stifles creativity and innovation and may cause the employee to leave an otherwise enjoyable job.

Dilys Robinson is principal research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies

Taking from an article published 29 October 2015 | By Dilys Robinson

Petaurum Solutions comment

A great article highlighting the many aspects of what motivates employees. As the article points out investing in employee wellbeing and development does pay dividends, however organisations need to be aware that all this good work can be lost if staff feel they are not being listened to, or as the article points out, promises made are not fulfilled.

As companies evolve so does the pressure on managers and staff to deliver.  Therefore, ensuring lines of two way communication are open, standards of behaviour are maintained and employees recognised for the good work they do becomes even more critical. At Petaurum Solutions we are experts in helping companies navigate the sometimes choppy waters of change from providing change strategies to the Board down to implementing change programmes, we can add value and in doing so ensure your workforce remain loyal and motivated. If you want to know more about what we can do then please look around our website or even better contact us as we would love to hear from you

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