12/08/2014

By Stephen Archer, Founding Partner, Spring Partnerships LLP


Now the economy is recovering, there is greater optimism - encouraging more people to look to greener pastures. Employers now face the challenge motivating and retaining staff. How can they achieve this?

Money is not usually the prime cause of de-motivation for people — it is far more profound. Once people have enough to live on, money ceases to be a stress factor or a driver. People seek and respond to ‘inner’ rewards instead that makes them feel valued, appreciated, and involved, with a sense of belief in their employer and the future of the company.

Against this basic psychological background we can now see the age of the career may be at an end. People feel less loyalty to employers and employers are showing less loyalty to employees. The ‘unspoken contract’ that exists between the two parties has changed. Employers must keep people motivated and provide a reason for them to stay with an organisation in a way they wouldn’t have had to do 20 years ago.

Strong employee retention depends on a job being interesting and satisfying and the best motivation is achieved when companies invest in their people and provide a clear, personal development path. Such things are far more valuable than pay rises; and people stay in organisations because they feel good about themselves.

People investment is a reward in itself and organisations should consider the following tips on how to motivate and retain employees:

- Assess your employee’s potential and their comfort zones. Often people will respond to a trigger when someone sees and trusts an aspect of them that they did not know they had as a talent.

- Focus on values and beliefs, as well as abilities and skills: courage, passion, enthusiasm and energy come from our internal power source of acting in alignment with beliefs and values. That’s why asking someone who is stuck on what they should do to solve a seemingly intractable problem “what’s the right thing to do?” is such a powerful question, and one that usually produces the best solution. This is where empowerment is its own reward.

- Design challenges and goals that will stretch your people. If we cannot promote them, how can we give them more responsibility? Line managers often think that they have to give permanent responsibility. However, projects that can be given to people can be very motivating and develop skills.

- If a person is going to develop and learn they must be taken out of their comfort zone and supported in this aim by their manager.

- Building confidence and competencies through achievement of goals: whether small or large is an incredibly important part of development, and if those achievements are consistently recognised and rewarded, a hunger for more is established, fuelling the internal desire for development and more achievement.

- Use every experience for learning: everybody makes mistakes. If they don’t then they are not being stretched.

- Focus on what people need to solve issues. Keep supporting them relentlessly
Give constant feedback.

-Link long term development to the short and long term needs of the business. Make this connection visible and clear for all to understand.

- Consider cash, bonus and non-cash rewards appropriate to the value of the effort and achievement.

- Celebrate with staff events, days out and spontaneous celebrations.

For any organisation faced with a de-motivated workforce, the first priority is to share with employees what is being done to move the business forward and take advantage of the growing economy.

Communicate what role they can play to help the business grow. This will motivate and excite people, as well as give them confidence because it offers them a stake in securing their own future.

It is crucial though that the reward is the promise to share in the success that can follow, and the reward of being respected and developed.

Successful organisations will focus on their biggest asset, their people and together they reap the benefits of a more positive economy.