What motivates employees?

The last 2 years have been relatively free from job jumping and high employee mobility. Everyone appreciates the muddle the world economy is in, and it seems wise to be patient and less demanding, if only to keep your job. But once the turnaround gathers momentum, you can be sure that staff will be looking to take advantage of the perceived improved business climate. The knock on the door is coming. This tends to become more frequent in an economy where more jobs are being created. Disgruntled employees start looking over the neighbor’s fence. And most companies typically have a knee jerk reaction to a potential employee loss, and don’t have a strategic way of dealing with this to the satisfaction of both parties.

There are two critical questions to pose. What are the real causes for staff demotivation, and potential resignation?

Studies done in the UK (by recruitment firm Robert Walters) point to the following motivations behind employee dissatisfaction;

Limited opportunities to progress and develop
Lack of clarity of the direction of the company
Poor communications
Dilution of the Brand
Lack of employee feedback and appreciation.

Other studies have shown that employees become demotivated when goals and responsibilities are unclear, or there is a lack of resources to do the job. So what happened to the burning issue of compensation? It’s an important issue, but less critical to keeping staff. It is clear that the way to hold onto good employees is primarily not through the pocket book.

What are the possible solutions?

The answers are all strategic: All employees need to have a sense of purpose. Not only for the own work but how this fits into the Company’s objectives. Give them a voice, and facilitate feedback. Create an environment where each individual’s contribution is understood and appreciated. Provide opportunities for development. And above all ensure that communications are clear and flow frequently. Ensure that your HR policies and procedures are clear, visible, fair and not bound by red tape and jargon.

What happens if a talented employee tells you that he or she has been offered a job elsewhere? Now if it’s a key employee that of course presents you with some problems. Ideally it would have been better to take a strategic proactive stance. If this person is someone of high potential who you would prefer to hold onto, you may have to negotiate an improved package, and this does not have to be pay, it could include extra vacation, performance incentives or additional benefits. It could also be a commitment to more training and development, and clarity on career advancement within the organization. Importantly, remember it’s not necessarily about the money.

Finally, if talented people leave, take it as an opportunity to bring in fresh talent, new ideas, and new energy. Of course, this time make sure that you have reviewed how you motivate and manage people effectively.

Plutus Consulting Group

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