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Staff motivation

staff motivation

Engaging and motivating staff is critical to success as the latest productivity figures for the UK indicate. But it is not something that should be considered as a stand alone activity but rather it should be intrinsic to the business and part of everything you do. 

How have we involved our staff in this decision? Will this motivate them?

To attract and retain the staff you want you need to inspire them with a story of where the business is going and how they can be part of it. Without meaning, work is just a series of tasks, and the time at work, a period to be endured while people wait for the day to end and the weekend to arrive.

Staff need to be as committed to the business cause as a volunteer is to the charity they support. Like a volunteer they can leave, particularly in sectors where demand exceeds supply like health care, engineering or technology but if they stay under sufferance they are a threat to the business.

Job satisfaction ranks high on many surveys of what people want from work as do things such as:

  • Personal freedom and autonomy in determining how they will do their job
  • Respect of colleagues and being part of a team which is passionate to achieve results, and is unified around a common goal and set of values
  • Learning something new and building skills in something worthwhile
  • Challenging opportunities including chances to try and fail
  • Helping other people and purpose which may be within the business or by activities such as volunteering
  • Completing a project/producing a clear output
  • Feeling involved and valued and consulted
  • Appreciation and recognition – sometimes all it takes is a thank you

Money ranks pretty low down the list – it is necessary but not necessarily motivational, however the lack of it can be demotivating causing resentment, low morale, poor customer service and a lack of effort and productivity.

We can help you identify ways to motivate your staff that often also give you benefits beyond their motivation.

Examples of different ways to motivate your staff

There are all sorts of ways of providing an environment that motivates staff. For example, Charles Handy in his book “Inside Organizations” describes one company which gets the people in the factory who make a machine tool to deliver it in person to the customer. While this disrupts the workflow in the factory the motivational effect on the staff more than compensates and it provides a better service for the customer who gets an expert at the installation. In addition, the staff are always going to ensure the equipment is perfect since they will be there at installation.

Staff can be motivated by their working environment and the facilities such as an on site gym, great rest areas etc. Staff events such as parties and trips can build a feeling of being part of a team. Others go further with employee ownership schemes that actually mean everyone ‘owns’ part of the company – a real team.

Gripple, a world leading manufacturing company in Sheffield, exemplifies all these elements with a great manufacturing works where the shop floor is as pleasant as the offices – in one area there is a huge suspended cow with staff hand prints from the agricultural section all over it. There are great staff rest areas with games, computers, papers, food and drink facilities and every member of staff has to be a shareholder after a year of employment. Needless to say their staff turnover is very low and their success is very high. Interestingly they do not have defined job descriptions and when an order needs to get out everyone will lend a hand if it is needed.

Some benefits can cost little or nothing. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, for example, allowed each employee three free pints of ice cream a day and free massages. The impact was high showing a company that cared but the cost to the company was relatively low.

The physical space where people work can alter how they interact and feel. For example, treating staff well means making them feel that they are heard and appreciated, yet if a manager generally meets their staff from behind their desk with a computer monitor which takes their attention in the way, this can give out a message that the manager is not really listening or caring. Simply moving the monitor or meeting in another way can improve how much people feel heard.

Many businesses provide volunteering opportunities for staff to help with recruitment and retention. People want diverse career experience and enjoy the opportunities that volunteering gives.

Others allow staff to feel in control, many larger companies let staff spend part of their working week on their own projects. 3M, in 1948, long before Google and Hewlett- Packard, started giving  staff 15% of their time off to explore their own projects. The most famous output of this was the Post-It Note but many of its 22,800 patents are derived from its 15 percent programme. The programme is available to everyone not just researchers. Remarkably even after many years in 2014 3M was still selling $1 billion worth of Post-It Notes a year.

LinkedIn[1] has InCubator, a program that gives engineers time away from their regular work to work on their own product ideas; Apple has Blue Sky, which allows some workers to spend a few weeks on pet projects; and Microsoft created The Garage, a space for employees to build their own products using Microsoft resources.

As well as keeping staff motivated the personal time to think and do projects can help when all else is equal in recruitment.


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