We Can Work It Out

Workers Most Motivated by Recognition of Achievements
by: Jerry Liao

If you have tried running your own business, you would know that next to having a good product and services – the next most important asset of a company is its workforce. In other words, the knowledge capital of a company can also spell the difference between success and failure.

How to develop and how to keep the knowledge within the company for the longest time possible has always been a challenge. Attractive packages and incentives, career path programs, and other motivational activities are being implemented by companies to ensure employee satisfaction, thus giving their best for the company.

While hosting team-building events and giving increased responsibility are common ways to motivate staff, a new survey shows a simple thank you will also win over employees. Thirty-five percent of workers and 30 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) polled cited frequent recognition of accomplishments as the most effective non-monetary reward. Regular communication was the second most common response, given by 20 percent of employees and 36 percent of CFOs.

The surveys were developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. They were conducted by an independent research firm and include responses from more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees and 536 full- or part-time office workers.

To gain the perspectives of executives and employees, both groups were asked about the best no-nmonetary ways to motivate staff: “Other than financial rewards, which of the following is the most effective means of motivating employees?” The responses of CFOs and employees are as follows: Frequent Recognition of Accomplishments (CFO – 30%) – (Employees – 30%); Regular Communication with staff (36%) – (20%); Giving Employees increased responsibility (20%) – (17%); Off-site team building and social events (8%) – (10%); More time off/holidays/paid time off (0%) – (1%); Flexible work schedule flextime (0%) – (0%); Something else (1%) – (5%); None Nothing else motivates (1%) – (1%); Don’t Know (4%) – (11%). No amount of team-building events or other perks can compensate for a manager personally thanking employees for a job well done, said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Motivating Employees For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). Individuals want to know their work is appreciated and makes a difference.

While extra time off and flexible schedules help employees maintain work/life balance, they did not rank as top motivators. These incentives are valuable in increasing loyalty over the long term, but there is no substitute for inspiring employees on a daily basis through words and actions, Messmer said.

Basic Principles to Remember in motivating employees:

1. Motivating employees starts with motivating yourself.

It’s amazing how, if you hate your job, it seems like everyone else does, too. If you are very stressed out, it seems like everyone else is, too. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you’re enthusiastic about your job, it’s much easier for others to be, too. Also, if you’re doing a good job of taking care of yourself and your own job, you’ll have much clearer perspective on how others are doing in theirs. A great place to start learning about motivation is to start understanding your own motivations. The key to helping to motivate your employees is to understand what motivates them. So what motivates you? Consider, for example, time with family, recognition, a job well done, service, learning, etc. How is your job configured to support your own motivations? What can you do to better motivate yourself?

2. Always work to align goals of the organization with goals of employees. As mentioned above, employees can be all fired up about their work and be working very hard. However, if the results of their work don’t contribute to the goals of the organization, then the organization is not any better off than if the employees were sitting on their hands — maybe worse off! Therefore, it’s critical that managers and supervisors know what they want from their employees. These preferences should be worded in terms of goals for the organization. Identifying the goals for the organization is usually done during strategic planning. Whatever steps you take to support the motivation of your employees (various steps are suggested below), ensure that employees have strong input to identifying their goals and that these goals are aligned with goals of the organization. (Goals should be worded to be “SMARTER”.)

3. Key to supporting the motivation of your employees is understanding what motivates each of them. Each person is motivated by different things. Whatever steps you take to support the motivation of your employees, they should first include finding out what it is that really motivates each of your employees. You can find this out by asking them, listening to them and observing them.

4. Recognize that supporting employee motivation is a process, not a task. Organizations change all the time, as do people. Indeed, it is an ongoing process to sustain an environment where each employee can strongly motivate themselves. If you look at sustaining employee motivation as an ongoing process, then you’ll be much more fulfilled and motivated yourself.\

5. Support employee motivation by using organizational systems (for example, policies and procedures) — don’t just count on good intentions. Don’t just count on cultivating strong interpersonal relationships with employees to help motivate them. The nature of these relationships can change greatly, for example, during times of stress. Instead, use reliable and comprehensive systems in the workplace to help motivate employees. For example, establish compensation systems, employee performance systems, organizational policies and procedures, etc., to support employee motivation. Also, establishing various systems and structures helps ensure clear understanding and equitable treatment of employees.

To avoid loss of motivation, we must protect the higher human drive to learn, improve one’s environment, help others, gain recognition and contribute to the common good. We must create a safe work environment in which employees can take pride in their work and feel that their individual styles of learning and communicating are understood and respected.

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