Employee Motivation

By Gabe Faponle – Senior Client Services Manager – Audit & Assurance

Employees are the resources that turn vision into reality in the workplace. They are like engines that keep the train moving, and they need to be well oiled to ensure the train keeps chugging along.

Motivation is the secret sauce and the grease that keeps the engine oiled.

Walt Disney once said, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality”.

Motivation starts at the top because management and leaders set the tone. Firstly, leaders need to make their employees feel valued. Employees draw inspiration from the knowledge that what they do matters to the organisation. They need to be sure that they have the right resources to be able to focus on the right task at the right time.

There has been a study by Warwick Business School which shows that happy workers are 12 per cent more productive than unhappy ones.

To adequately motivate employees, I believe leaders need to focus on these concepts:

Vision and values: Every leader is telling a story about what he or she values. These values must be aligned with the vision for an organisation or team. If a leader’s personal values do not align with organisational values, it will be difficult to genuinely express a vision that motivates others.

Behaviours over intentions: Individuals within an organisation will look to a leader as a model to develop their own behaviours and decisions. While people tend to judge themselves based on intentions, they judge others based on actions. As a leader, it is essential that your behaviours reflect your values and your vision. When rallying a team around a new initiative, it is crucial that you demonstrate its importance through your words and actions. Some of the most powerful motivation comes from leaders who lead by example.

Purpose before task: When assigning new projects to a team, it is important to discuss the purpose behind the task. Tasks that are isolated from the larger goal can become tedious and confusing, finding their way to the bottom of the priorities list. However, if a team understands the common purpose behind individual responsibilities, they will be more inspired to own the tasks as well as the goal.

Take the time to help employees fully understand the purpose of their work. Explain the significant value of their tasks so they comprehend their contribution to the organisation’s larger objectives.

When people grasp the reasons a goal exist, it’s easier to form a “goal hierarchy”- a mental structure in which priorities can be considered as complements, rather than obstacles, to one another. This makes it more likely that employees will follow through and reach a goal.

Appreciate genuine efforts: A praise is a great way to show an employee that their work is valued, but you can’t hand those out every day, and often can’t offer them every time they’re deserved. A thought leader in the workplace needs more rewards in his toolbox than just financial compensation.

Recognise employees’ success in a skilful and considered way to deliver recognition that matters. This does not mean heaping undeserved praise on people; it means celebrating a job well done while keeping the bar high.

The most effective leaders convey recognition and, where possible, reward employees for productive steps forward.

Abraham H. Maslow published a paper in 1943 titled, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” introducing his famous theory of “The Hierarchy of Needs”. From bottom to top, these needs are as follows; physiological, safety, belongings, esteem and self-actualisation. It is believed that in the corporate world each level must be fulfilled before reaching the next level, in order to fulfil complete human satisfaction which leads to a high level of motivation.

Always think of new ways to show staff they are appreciated and to celebrate their successes. Highlight triumphs in staff meetings, award added responsibilities and leadership roles to staff members who demonstrate that they are capable and make sure to explain the reason behind such action. Words are powerful, and praise can make a big difference in an employee’s sense of self-worth and well-being.

A well-known business guru Richard Branson believes it is important to keep employees challenged, engaged and excited – after all, employees spend so much of their lives working, that in order to stay fresh and creative, the employer needs to bring a sense of fun to the office.

Finally, there is a fine line between highlighting individual accomplishments and encouraging competition. Identify where that line lies in the workplace, and stay on the side of positive affirmation.

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