Ways to motivate employees that are actually proven to work

It’s a given that money is the most important motivator for employees – but is it necessarily true? Companies that have problems with high staff turnover can’t always put it down to pay. Often, there’s a going rate for a certain skill, and it usually varies only slightly over a range of employers in an area. But people are still constantly looking around for new roles, so they mustn’t consider it merely a sideways step. Something else is attracting good staff members away from businesses. But what are they? Let’s have a look.

A clear path up the career ladder

We’ve all heard the phrase “dead end job” – and many of us will have had one. It’s where you work from 9 to 5 every week day, but without any realistic hope of getting a promotion, or even a pay rise to reflect your experience. What makes it worse is seeing people less qualified come in as juniors and fly into top jobs just because they’ve ingratiated themselves with management enough. When this happens, there’s only one way to climb the ladder, and that’s to leave.

As an employer, you really need to be paying attention to employees’ skills and ambitions, as you’re probably losing talent because you’re looking for the wrong traits when it comes to promotion. Overambitious people are probably going to quit anyway as soon as the next offer comes along, so make sure you talk to your staff, make promotions fair and skill-focused, and reward honest service with pay rises, bonuses and promotions.

Incentive schemes

You might have nurtured your business from nothing to a successful enterprise, and you’ve probably invested money and many, many hours in getting it there. But you can’t expect every employee to share your devotion to it. Many intend to be just passing through; some will happily take their pay without contributing more than they have to.

Starting up a reward scheme is a recognised way of aiding staff retention, because everyone feels like they have a reason to go the extra mile. It’s relatively simple to set up a token scheme, whereby individuals or teams can win rewards through performance. That could be sales targets in certain contexts, or meeting other criteria specific to your industry. Rewards don’t have to be directly linked to business success, of course. Anything that gels the team together, such as organising events or training new staff, could earn tokens that lead to rewards.

Peer motivation

Probably the most important motivation comes from employees’ peers themselves, however. We are a social species, and thrive on social acceptance. Gaining the trust of a team to do a job is actually quite a profound step in a job, and that applies whether the employee is at the lowest pay grade or is a manager. Knowing the team has your back and you have theirs is often enough motivation for many, so encouraging open communication, fair conflict resolution, and an active (but not forced) social scene outside business hours can add up to a happy and inspired workforce.

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