People create far more value in business than any process or procedure ever can. It’s the actions and attitudes of your people that will really make a difference to your success.

The right motivation enables growing companies to attract and retain the talent of its people. It’s also the driver to improved performance, productivity and efficiency. But you can only nurture and engage your employees if you have a real understanding of what motivates them. Experts on motivation identify four broad drivers of satisfaction.

Financial security

It’s all too easy for businesses to underestimate the importance of a competitive and fair salary structure. Although money is not always the most important consideration when deciding to join or stay with a business, we all need to be able to pay the bills before we can be motivated to achieve superior objectives.

  • Pay a fair basic salary – use benchmarking to ensure you are competitive.
  • Base your performance or profit-related bonuses on the achievement of individual, team and company-wide results.
  • Penalise poor performance, not poor results – the reasons for poor results are likely to be management or market driven.
  • Review roles and responsibilities regularly and look for opportunities to promote from within.
  • Realign salaries and bonuses as and when promotions take place.
The nature of the role and the work

In most cases it’s the job itself that’s the source of true motivation. Employees who are truly inspired by their roles are more driven and take personal responsibility for the future success of the business.

  • Ensure that people are working in roles that interest and inspire them.
  • Provide clear objectives and the resources to do the job properly.
  • Never give responsibility without authority.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of regular support and encouragement.
  • Keep your staff informed – tell them what’s going on in the business and include them in the conversation.
  • Identify and promote the staff that will help you drive your business forward.
Recognition, appreciation and reward
Total reward schemes are designed to include everything that employees value in the employment relationship, covering monetary rewards and benefits, work-life balance and future development.
  • Recognise achievements – hold regular employee events to congratulate and thank your staff.
  • Develop a range of performance-related incentives that are aligned to your business objectives.
  • Offer flexible benefits, for example, buying or selling annual leave.
  • Allow staff to share in the success of the business by offering shares and share options.
  • Develop clear and transparent measures of performance so you’ll know when bonuses or incentives have been earned.
Motivation and reward are key to building and retaining a strong and sustainable team. If you care for your staff, they will care for your business and become ambassadors for your brand.

By Geraldine Buckland, Head of HR Consulting, Smith & Williamson LLP