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Employee motivators and retention – discover how your business can benefit

Posted by: The ADP Team on 29 March 2017 in Human Capital Management

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The ability to retain the best employees is an important part of a company’s growth. When evaluating ways to increase retention, the effect of positive employee motivation can be undervalued. However, there are many benefits to having motivated employees: increased productivity, increased engagement and accountability, increased job satisfaction and decreased absenteeism. All of these benefits can lead directly to higher retention. So how can you improve employee motivation in your company? The answer can be found in understanding and identifying the primary motivators in your company.

Understanding Employee Motivators

Palmer Morrel-Samuels, Ph.D., led a study conducted by Workplace Research Foundation in cooperation with the University of Michigan that found that as employee motivation improved, the business’ stock enjoyed higher subsequent returns the following year. While this study was based on corporations that were listed in the Wall Street Journal 1000, the findings are relevant in any part of the world and can apply to businesses of any size.

Depending on the nature and size of a company and its workforce, there can be a wide array of motivators. Six common motivators include:

  • Compensation
  • Flexibility
  • Time off
  • Benefits
  • Incentives
  • Bonuses

It is common practice to use compensation as the main employee motivator, but this may not be the most effective option. Infact in a recent survey 1/5 of Australians said they would sacrifice 10% of their annual income in return for flexible work.

Money is an undeniable motivator, but there are several reasons why a business should be careful not to use this as the only motivator.

  • The first reason is that consistency is an important attribute for motivators and monetary motivators are dependent on the profitability of the business, which can vary from year to year. Employees still need to be motivated when budgets are tight and bonuses and salary increases are not available. In fact, this is likely the time when they need the most motivation.
  • Secondly, when monetary motivators are small or non-existent, employees may feel undervalued even though this was not the intent of the employer.
  • Lastly, monetary motivators are usually only given once a year and it is important to motivate your staff all year round. These challenges can be minimised by understanding other ways to motivate.

Morrel-Samuels also commented that, “employee motivation cannot be purchased. It has to do with intellectual challenge, pride in developing a sense of mastery and the need to make a contribution to both your job and society.” The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace report from the ADP Research Institute® found that over 80% of respondents believe people that will spend their time working on things that personally interest them or have a broader impact on society. This was true for companies who had been in business for both, less than or more than 10 years.

Determining What Motivates Your Employees

After gaining a better understanding of employee motivators, the next step is to determine the ones of most importance. One approach is to send an email explaining the company is interested in increasing employee motivation. Provide a brief description of the importance of employee motivation and include the six professional motivators noted above (and others, depending on your company and workforce) and ask each person to rank them. It may be helpful to mention that, while the company is planning to make an effort to increase employee motivation, this does not necessarily mean that you will be able to meet every employee’s main motivator all the time. Also, ranking their priorities will not exclude them from receiving others on the list (i.e., indicating flexibility and time off as a main motivator will not make them ineligible for a raise).

This list of priorities can give you valuable insight into how to get the best from your employees. Open the lines of communication by giving each staff member an opportunity to discuss their list. This discussion can be added to the next one-on-one meeting or review, and should be revisited at least annually. For new employees, this list should be included in the onboarding process.

Understanding individual motivators is important, but depending on company size, it might not be possible to accommodate each person’s main motivator. Fortunately, the motivators can also be viewed from a high level. For example, if most of your company is motivated by flexibility, then you may want to think about flexitime. If compensation and benefits motivate the majority, then incentives and bonuses are a better option. However, it is important to remember that the main motivator should not be the only motivator. All six motivators are essential, but the most success can be found from focusing on the factors that are most valued by the employees.

Discovering what motivates your people is a way to take a right step toward enhancing your company’s culture. Take the time to ask what motivates them and give careful consideration to the feedback. This simple exercise could result in increasing morale, productivity and employee retention.

Written by: Connect@ADP Team


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TAGS: compensation Employee motivation Productivity remuneration talent retention

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