It’s the factors which stir our intrinsic ambitions which truly motivate us, such as increased autonomy, acquiring new skills, being able to express ourselves – and all the other factors which I’ve outlined below.
You can’t buy loyalty
The workforce of my resident country Japan is famously loyal to their employers. It’s not uncommon for a worker to remain with the same company for their whole lifetime – a phenomenon commonly described as ‘shushin koyo’, or ‘lifetime employment’. However, as our 2016 Hays Asia Salary Guide shows, this attitude is increasingly on the wane. As global fluidity increases companies cannot necessarily rely on the abstract idea of loyalty alone, and will need to look for other motivators.
Of course there are still many people who consider pay to be the prime means of motivation, but if we’re completely honest with ourselves, pay can only motivate us so much. How motivated would you feel earning a six figure salary working in a job where you are worked to the point of exhaustion every day in a dilapidated office, surrounded by people who resent you, reporting into a manager that doesn’t invest any time, effort or appreciation in you? Money is not the be all and end all.
With that in mind, here are five other ways by which you can galvanize your workforce:
1. Learning and development
By up-skilling your employees you’re showing them both that they matter to the business, and also that there is room for progression within their role. What’s more motivating than being encouraged and supported to become a better version of you?
I’d recommend conducting a skills assessment before deciding on what training you’re going to organise for each employee. The employee will better appreciate, and be more motivated by, a sensible and well-considered plan of training for them. You need not worry if your business/department has no budget for learning and development – many don’t – there should be plenty of free and relevant networking events and conferences your employees can attend, you just need to look around.
One of the biggest challenges that the most recent Hays Global Skills Index identified was a talent shortage in many key sectors across the globe. In many industries around the world there is a significant gap between the skills employers need and the skills available. Therefore it’s not just for the employee’s benefit that you should invest in their skills development, but also your own and even the market within which you operate.
2. A clear path of progression
It’s not enough just to send employees off on training courses though. What’s even more motivating for most employees is being shown that there are more rungs on the career ladder that they can climb to within your business. One striking learning to come out of the recent Hays Global Gender Diversity Report was that only 42 per cent of women and 58 per cent of men feel as though they have the opportunity in their current role to promote themselves and communicate their ambitions. Similarly, more than half the people we surveyed in our Hays Asia Salary Guide (54 per cent) cited the wish to face new challenges as a key reason for their departure from an organisation, while almost the same percentage (48 per cent) indicated a lack of progression as the cause.
All of these grievances can be fairly easily resolved by clearly articulating a plan of progression for your employees. Make sure that you regularly (ideally at least twice a year) have meetings during which you discuss the employee’s ambitions and their promotion prospects within the business. If their promotion aspirations can’t currently be realised (due to lack of financial resource or that position being currently filled) then giving that employee increased autonomy or say within the business could be a satisfactory compromise.
That real sense of effort being rewarded with wider opportunities, whether it’s a promotion within the same department, another area of the business, or working in a new role in another country altogether, will fuel the motivational drive.
Employees must be acknowledged and compensated equally for all of their contributions and achievements – this is almost what Herzog would have termed a ‘hygiene factor’ (something which doesn’t motivate if offered, but does demotivate if not). However you can do more than just the minimum of remunerating someone for their efforts, and issuing the occasional pat on the back.
Recognition comes in many forms, and it’s largely up to you and your good people management skills how well you execute it. Some employees would be greatly stirred by a formal recognition in front of other colleagues, such as a certificate or a team lunch, while others would prefer some extra praise and insight from yourself. What’s certain is that we all get a kick out of being acknowledged for a job well done.
4. Autonomy and responsibility
It’s important that your employees know where they stand within your business and feel like a vital cog – you can help improve their sense of this by giving them more meaningful tasks and responsibilities. The more impact an employee has in your business, the more likely they are to feel connected to the business, and to aggregate the business’ success with their own.
Employees should also feel as though they have room and license to voice their opinions and ideas where necessary, without fear of being ignored or pulled rank on. Welcome feedback from your team wherever possible, and instil in them the feeling that their views matter to you and the business.
It’s also important that your team is allowed to express themselves within their work, and that they aren’t constrained to doing things in a restrictive, recycled way that you or the business has imposed upon them. Some progressive businesses, such as Sweaty Betty and Microsoft, operate a ‘flexi-hours’ policy, where they allow their employees to choose their own working hours. While I can see the motivational benefits of this, it’s something that’s only really practical for certain types of businesses, and not something I’m about to open up to my team.
5. Work environment
Work-life balance is a motivating factor that falls a little bit under both this and the previous sub-heading. Work-life balance is important, and can be greatly helped by being granted extra autonomy or flexibility, but it’s not just by increasing the life side of the balance that you improve your wellbeing. There are many ways you can help improve employees work environment which will greatly benefit their work-life balance, and thus their overall satisfaction, productivity and motivation.