New approach to employee engagement
Many employees have 'hung on' and tolerated the trying economic times that we've recently seen, but many will see an easing of the job market as a time to look to greener pastures. Those that cannot do this may remain employed, but crucially also de-motivated and disengaged. This doesn't help employers who badly need commitment and energy from their staff.
It's important to acknowlegde that, despite cuts in wages and bonuses that many organisations have had to enforce, money is only a small part of what motivates employees. Once employees have enough to live on, money ceases to be a stress factor or a driver in their lives.
Employees will seek and respond to inner reward instead; the reward that makes them feel not just valued but important, recognised and involved with a sense of purpose and team spirit. How can employers keep staff motivated and give them a reason to stay with the organisation?
Invest in people development
To achieve strong employee retention, employees must be interested and satisfied with their role as much as possible. The importance of training must not be underestimated, especially the soft skills training that develops people. Leadership skills are also crucial to build a future pipeline of competent and effective leaders within an organisation.
The best motivation is achieved when people are invested in. Give employees a clear, personal development path. This is far more valuable than a pay rise. Staff will be more inclined to stay if they feel good about themselves and understand that the organisation is taking the time to invest in their personal development.
Getting people investment right
People investment is a reward in itself, and organisations should consider the following aspects:
- Consider using internal mentoring schemes. As well as having a line manager, employees can be given an internal peer mentor from another area of the business. The mentor focuses solely on that persons development. Using this mechanism gives future managers experience of coaching through mentoring others, which is incredibly beneficial for their own development.
- As well as skills and ability, focus on values and beliefs. Courage, passion, enthusiasm and energy come from our internal power source of acting in alignment with beliefs and values. For example, asking an employee who is facing a Challenge: whats the right thing to do? is such a powerful question, and one that invariably produces a great solution. This is where empowerment is its own reward.
- Design Challenges and goals that will stretch employees. Question how staff can be empowered with additional responsibilty. Line managers often think that they have to give permanent responsibility, rather than looking at projects or tasks that can be given, and then taken away when the life of the project is over. If an employee is going to develop and learn, they must be taken out of their comfort zone, and they wont necessarily do it for themselves.
- Set achievable goals to build confidence and competencies. Whether small or large, the achievement of goals is an incredibly important part of development, and if those achievements are consistently recognized and rewarded, a hunger for more is established, fuelling the internal desire for development and more achievement.
- Use every experience for learning - acknowledge that people make mistakes. Encourage risk and assure staff that they are safe to make mistakes.
- Focus on what employees need rather than focusing on the problem they are working on. Keep the support relentlessly.
- Give constant feedback.
- Link long-term staff development to the short and long term needs of the business. Make this connection visible and clear for all to understand.
- Offer cash, bonus and non-cash rewards appropriate to the value of the effort and achievement.
- Celebrate achievements and successes with staff events, days out and spontaneous celebrations.
Involve employees in the turnaround mission
For any organisation that's faced with a de-motivated workforce, the first priority is to share with employees what is being done to help climb out of the recession. Explain to them what they can do to be a part of that, making them involved in the turnaround mission.
Employees will be motivated through a sense of involvement and a role in securing their own future. Following that, the reward must be a promise to share in the success that can follow and the reward of being respected and developed.