Motivating employees is a continual effort.  So, I’m going to get straight to it. Doing the right things right can mean different things to different people – and that is precisely my point.  I believe it is important, always, to understand how you can create, stimulate, and maintain a climate for change with the employees in your business.  My professional expertise in managing and leading businesses tells me this works.

As I provide these tips, I want you to understand one important fact:

Every person is motivated differently – every person motivates differently.

My Pop Motivation Quiz

First, please rank these 5 survey questions on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest, your business’s score for each statement below.

  1. Employees’ values, motivations, and talents are understood and measured.
  2. Employees consider their jobs rewarding and interesting.
  3. Employees are committed to jointly owned, shared goals, values, and beliefs.
  4. Employees hold each other accountable against agreed upon plans and standards.
  5. We have open and honest communication that empowers employees.

Total the scores, divide by 5.  What’s your result?

  1. If your average score is 4 to 5, you are motivating smart.
  2. If your average score is 3 to 3.8, you are in the caution zone & need improvements to your motivational program (see some yellow?)
  3. If your average score is < 3, you are in the danger zone & need some serious attention and effort at building a motivational program for your employees and your business, (see lots of red?)

Got your attention? Read on for the tips.

Family – Like Community

Let’s look at some of the validated practices.  I don’t make this stuff up.  The researchers in the Cornell University CAHRS study[1] in 2005 that discussed with 250 small businesses how best to create and maintain workforce alignment identified three different strategies which these companies used to motivate people:

  1. Family – Like Community – employees are motivated primarily out of a sense of responsibility to one another and the business;
  2. Interesting & Rewarding Jobs – employees are provided with challenging work opportunities and chances to learn and grow; and
  3. Fair Compensation – Companies use compensation to motivate people & pay higher wages than their competitors. They also use incentives to attract, reward, and retain their people.

A very strong consensus indicated that creating a Family – Like Community was found by the Cornell researchers as strongly and positively related to creating the best, long-term workforce alignment.

My Motivating Tips

Aligning your business practices to motivate people to do the right things right requires you to:

  1. Developing your business’s long-term strategy and plan with your employees helps to set the stage for each of the following strategies to be successful. This strategy and plan provides focus and reinforces the need for action.
  2. Develop a comprehensive orientation program for all new employees. Employees need to understand the culture and environment they are working in.
  3. Hold company-wide meetings to share information about the business with your employees on a quarterly basis & openly share information with your employees regularly so that you can establishes a regular and recurring dialogue with your employees and which enables you and them to share valuable information and insights.
  4. Sponsor company social events to bind relationships that are developed inside the organization, outside the work setting.
  5. Work hard to create a strong social environment at work to establish and solidify your culture of caring, and motivating, for your employees.; and
  6. Offer profit or gain sharing pay to reinforce the previous actions by enabling a way to share in the successes financially.

As companies (and employees) become more reliant on worker knowledge it is important to develop a way to identify the thinking and decision-making patterns required for these different job functions.  Need help learning how to do so, let me know.

Think this is too soft?  Consider that in 2013 Gallup Organization’s State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide report highlights findings from Gallup’s ongoing study of workplaces in more than 140 countries from 2011 through 2012.  The “report provided insights into what leaders can do to improve employee engagement and performance in their companies.”[2]  Curious about the results?  I was too.  “Currently, 13% of employees across 142 countries worldwide are engaged in their jobs — that is, they are emotionally invested in and focused on creating value for their organizations every day.”[3]  Enjoy the ride, we’ve got room for 87% improvement!

[1] Human Resource Management Practices, Workforce Alignment, and Firm Performance, Christopher Collins

Jeff Ericksen, Matthew Allen Working Paper 05 – 05.

[2] About This Report page 1, Gallup Organization’s State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide.

[3] Executive Summary, page 8, ibid.