As a business leader, chances are you are constantly worrying about your staff. Are they motivated? Will they go that extra mile for you?
Low motivation is everywhere
And you’d be right to worry, with statistics on this topic making grim reading. Depending on the industry, up to 75% of staff report feeling low to average motivation at work in the UK.
Luckily, there are strategies you can put in place to ensure your people are feeling good about working for you. We’ve debunked these myths so you can learn from our experience.
Myth #1: Performance related bonus schemes are a useful tool for motivation
Unfortunately, the science on performance related bonus schemes indicates that the opposite might be true. If people are feeling threatened by the risk of not earning their full bonus, this fear can hamper their engagement with work. Better to create a workplace and fulfilling roles that generate intrinsic motivation. When employees feel genuine intrinsic motivation for work, providing external rewards like increased pay can counter-intuitively decrease their motivation.
Support intrinsic motivation by focussing on three key areas:
- Constant communication and feedback, enabling personal growth and development for each team member;
- Meaningful recognition from their leader or manager, as well as their peers
- Work that is well defined, has clear goals that are well understood and that contribute to the mission of the business as a whole. Find out more about managing performance here.
Myth #2: If people perform better than their peers, they should be paid more.
Its tempting to shell out extra cash to compensate outstanding performance. But the jury is out even on the convention of paying sales commission for top sales people. And in other roles, linking results to variable pay is a minefield. There will inevitably be losers in this equation. The factor that demotivates employees more than any other is a sense of inequity. While rewarding top performers might make them feel good, the unhappiness and injustice that the others feel will infect the whole business atmosphere.
For how do you control for the myriad of factors outside one individual employee’s control? It could be that other team members let them down, that they lack resources or training, or simply that the goals were unrealistic. If you have ever tried to set up a plan that is “fair” you will know the challenge of trying to compare paying for different results in different roles. You also have the tricky questions of how do you reward those whose jobs don’t have obvious “results”. The bookkeeper. The HR Advisor. The company secretary. Going back to the salesman and her commission, is it fair that all the team supporting her on customer service, delivering the product or even collecting the overdue invoices don’t receive anything on her sales wins?
Myth #3: If people aren’t motivated, the answer is to increase their pay.
You should absolutely always pay what people are worth. But pay isn’t a two way street. Its a hygiene, not a motivator factor; meaning you’ll see a drop in motivation if you don’t pay the market rate, but once that need is met, motivation won’t increase exponentially with increased reward.
The key to motivation is to understand your people first and foremost. Individuals have different needs, so structure their reward to suit their lives.
A sense of purpose
Once this is taken care of, address the structural factors in their jobs. Do they feel a sense of purpose and mission about the business and their role in it? Do they think that what they are doing matters? Do they understand how their efforts contribute to the team and to the business as a whole? How clear are they about their objectives? How much feedback do they get? Do they feel rewarded and recognised for their work?
Intrinsic motivation in the workplace grows when employees feel challenged, capable, valued and have a general enjoyment of their jobs. Find out more about creating a company culture that promotes this here.