Want to create highly motivated employees? Understand what drives them

Want to create highly motivated employees? Understand what drives them
Want to create highly motivated employees? Understand what drives them

It’s no secret that motivated workers equal loyal workers – people who are enthusiastic about their work and yield better results. That’s simple. The bigger question, is how do you motivate them? There are the obvious things, like pay increases, bonuses and flexible hours. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real key to a highly motivated workforce is understanding their needs and motivations, both at an individual and a team level, and meeting them.

So where to start? Everyone has their own set of needs and motivations, and in today’s multi-generational workforce, that’s even more the case. Too often, organizations fail to pay attention to the issues that are most important to people, such as communication, recognition, and having a sense of belonging or purpose. To achieve these, here are a few tactics to introduce if you haven’t got them in your organization already.

Provide a collective vision
People with purpose in the workplace are more bought in and engaged than those who simply turn up to do a job. Having a company mission statement is all well and good, but it must be embraced within the organization’s culture and its people, for it to have an impact.

Employees want to know where the company comes from, and why it stands for what it does, so that they can embrace that message and embody that in their actions. It must be clear and evident through the actions of the company and its senior leaders, and the experiences for its employees. Many companies have values and a mission – but think about how is this used throughout the company.

Provide individual purpose
In addition to a sense of collective belonging, employees seek, and need, a sense of purpose from their work. This goes beyond understanding the company mission, to creating a powerful connection with an individual’s personal values and motivations.

Establishing purpose cannot be an after-thought. It needs to be evident and discoverable in all tasks a person might perform. Do their duties make sense? What impact will they make? What value will they deliver? Are they engaged by what they are being asked to do?

This is a significant change to the way some employers have traditionally operated. Some of the larger consulting firms are adapting the expectations they place on their workers to be away from home all week, to help their employees find more of a personal connection simply by having more time at home.

Other companies give their employees time during work hours to run with an idea that they might have. Aligning individual purpose to the company vision requires you to sit down with each employee, to discover what they motivations and drivers are.

Let people be themselves and design different ways of working to reflect this
Companies that hire and enable opposite types to thrive and work collectively, often do better. Take LVMH, a fashion house, for example. It needs creatives, but it also needs analytical minds to spot a commercial opportunity. Together the two create beautiful designs that sell.

Think about how you can embrace diverse personalities and ways of working across the business so that you have an approach to suit a range of needs.

In addition, we’re increasingly seeing HR and people teams scrapping rigid formulas, such as replacing year-end reviews with continuous performance and feedback conversations. This allows them to identify employee potential and motivations more frequently, and make iterative changes to unlock performance improvements on a regular basis.

Magnify people’s strengths through recognition
Simply by recognizing and acknowledging employees for their work, companies can generate a strong emotional commitment to their organization. Recognition can make staff feel valued and that they are making a positive difference to the business.

Some employees will be motivated by company-wide recognition, explaining what it is for, and the positive impact they have made to the business. Other employees may not respond as well, instead preferring a private 1:1 conversation with a senior leader who has recognised their efforts and contributions. Then there are some who are purely driven by peer and team recognition. Whatever the preference, there should be a range of ways to recognize great work.

Communicate clearly
Consider the consumer-based way in which we all expect information and communications today. Does your company communication mirror this? Can employees receive notifications on their phone with real-time company updates, should they wish? Can your staff engage with each other online through a company branded experience?

Some may like to read a consolidated digest at the end of the week, whereas others may prefer constant updates via social media. Think about these preferences as you design ways to communicate with your workforce.

The other critical aspect of strong company communications is the clarity and relevance of the message. Are you choosing the best time to communicate with your people? With all the communications channels and topics available, it’s very possible for employees to suffer from information overload.

Consider the use of technology to help you track and measure the effectiveness of internal communications. For example, Sage People allows you to report on the usage stats for your internal communications, so you can see what’s landing and when.

Ultimately, each person is driven by different motivations
When it comes down to it, it’s not the freebies that will keep your staff motivated. These are nice-to-haves, but not crucial.

To engage your people and create those highly-motivated employees, companies need to understand ultimately what drives their workforce. Every single person is different, and is driven by different things – this is reflected in how they gain purpose and meaning in their work, their personalities and how they behave at work, how they respond to recognition, and how they like to be communicated with in the business.

Company needs to give them space to reflect this in how they work with and engage with the company, and in turn, they’ll be rewarded with boosted engagement.

Find out more about creating great workforce experiences – download Sage People’s whitepaper now.

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