Going through the motions and doing just enough to get the job done isn’t exactly the type of work output leaders want from their employees. Unfortunately, a recent Gallup study shows that by and large, employees are doing just enough to get by and clock out without much notice. Leaders are left wondering why a system that has worked in the past is failing to meet the needs of newer employees.
We Have a System!
While a posted rewards system can work for some, employees are not all driven by the same motivators. There are people in the world that need very little stimulation to do their absolute best every single day, but most people need a little incentive to get going in the office. While extrinsic rewards like bonuses and high wages might help, the younger generations are increasingly more interested in intrinsic motivators to drive them to higher performance. Alas, one cannot bribe millennials with the promise of avocado toast alone as the internet memes have promised.
So why is employee motivation down when a company has higher than standard industry pay or opportunities for growth? The short answer is diversity. People have different skills on the job, and people have different motivators. The key to figuring out what motivates employees is the real struggle with businesses. Employees might know beforehand about the reward system in place, and maybe it sounded great when they began working, but sometimes those motivators don’t hold water when put to the test. Motivators for employee engagement need to be both diverse and malleable for individual employees. Not everyone will appreciate innovative ideas at first as the call for change can be intimidating. Those employees will be okay; they will rebuild and learn to live again. If not, donuts in the staff meeting are always appreciated.
Leaders are going to have to get with their employees and find out directly from the source what factors help or potentially hinder their job performance.
Ignoring the individual needs of an employee to be engaged on the job could mean losing productivity and potentially great employees. For example, some people will perform their best for revenue based factors such as higher pay and bonuses; conversely, some employees thrive on a friendly working environment filled with bonding activities. It’s not hard to see why these two sets of people would clash if only one practice was valued within a business as an incentive. There has to be a balance or one risks a toxic environment as the needs of some employees hinder reward opportunities of others which could further deplete engagement.
How can we help?
The good news about navigating the maze of factors which motivate employees is that so much can be accomplished by communication. Owners, managers, and other leaders should keep their ears and minds open to employees and their needs. If a leader of a company doesn’t wish to listen or speak to his employees about what can increase productivity, it might be time for some self-reflection of those responsible.
For more ideas on how to help motivate employees, see links below:
- 14 Highly Effective Ways to Motivate Employees, by Ilya Pozin
- Top 5 Ways to Motivate Your Employees (It’s Easier Than You Think), by Margaret Jacoby
- How Great Managers Motivate Their Employees, by Susan M. Heathfield
- How to Motivate Employees to Go Beyond Their Jobs, by Mark C. Bolino and Anthony C. Klotz