By: Ken Austin
Employee motivation is an age-old challenge for business owners. Most employers simply do what most other employers have done.
They use the so-called Old School method of the “Carrot and Stick”: offer an incentive (wages and other benefits) and threaten a punishment (suspension, dismissal, etc.). This has led to dissatisfaction on both sides.
Employees say, “We pretend to work and the boss pretends to pay us”. Employers say, “I can’t pay my employees what they’re worth because I’d have no employees for that little money”.
The problem is a problem of perception, on both sides. While it is true that people work to earn money, it is NOT true that people work FOR money. Money is an inanimate object. It cannot “make” work, or make anyone work for it.
People work for reasons. Understanding those reasons can help employers create the ideal work environment – a productive workplace that earns a profit. While it is often true that employers cannot pay a salary or wage that represents the true value of an employee’s labor and stay in business, there’s more than money to consider.
Job satisfaction is a relatively recent idea. In ages past, you either worked or starved. The notion of being happy in your work was simply unthinkable for most people. In today’s world, workers have choices, rights, advocates and mobility. Keeping good employees means adopting a new, two-part strategy:
Hygiene refers to the prevention of dissatisfaction:
• Creating company policies that are easy to understand, fair and applied equally to everyone
• Fair and balanced supervision
• Making sure salaries and wages are competitive
• Harmonious social interaction among employees
• A comfortable workplace with attention to personal space for each employee
Motivation is the creation of satisfaction:
• The work itself – emphasize the necessary and eliminate the unnecessary
• Achievement based on abilities and reachable goals
• Recognition and praise for work well done
• Responsibility for results – give employees freedom and power to carry out their jobs
• Advancement as a reward for loyalty and performance
The prevention of dissatisfaction is the first priority, before motivational considerations. No matter how well an employer provides motivation, persistent dissatisfaction will overcome any positive steps taken to motivate employees.
Once the issue of hygiene has been addressed, the motivational steps become powerful incentives for employees to be productive, satisfied and loyal. This simple model is proven, effective and can actually save money for an employer.