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Motivating Employees: Theory and Practice

When you consider your own motivations for starting and building your business, you probably list them something like this:

1. Necessity: we all need food, clothing, shelter

2. Interest: you are excited about the field and type of work

3. Challenge: you look forward to days when you can overcome challenges and feel a sense of accomplishment—and in that sense, you look forward to the challenges

Even if your list is different, it contains more items than bare necessity. That’s true for employees, too. Once you’ve offered them the financial carrot—allowed them to take care of the necessities—they need something more to keep them motivated in the job. Beyond a certain point, you can’t keep throwing money at people and expect them to leap for it. In fact, if money is truly your employees’ only motivation, they are going to leave your company as soon as someone waves a higher stack of dollar bills in their direction. To keep and motivate employees, you have to give them more.

What is the more? That varies with each individual. According to psychological research, about 35% of people are motivated by the chance to help others, learn something new and be creative. Another 23% are motivated by accomplishing a task and receiving recognition. About 12% are motivated by status and power.

When motivating employees, you want to take these variations into account; and to do that you have to involve your employees in your own day-to-day deliberations and discussions. Encourage your employees to talk to you, listen to their ideas, implement what you can and keep employees informed. You need to know your employees to know what motivates them. No survey can equal knowing your own team.

If your organization has grown beyond the stage where you know all your employees, then make sure your direct reports follow your lead in involving their teams, so that everyone feels they are contributing to and benefiting from the company’s success.

Part of that involvement requires breaking down silos between departments, sharing knowledge and encouraging creativity. The most boring job in the world (fill in your own blank here) gains interest when it is tied to the overall success and mission of the company. The job holder with a stake in the company is more committed to it.

Part of the mission of HR Compliance 101 is to create a company culture that works for you, the company owner, and for your employees. An unhappy company, with constant turnover and unmotivated employees, is never going to reach the goals you set for it. Contact us and let us help.

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