Motivate me or I’m changing job

10 February 2016 -


Managers must reward staff financially and with projects they are passionate about or face the prospect of losing their most talented workers for pastures new, according to cognitive neuroscientist and business psychologist Dr Lynda Shaw

Jermaine Haughton

With a rush of recent reports suggesting millions of British workers are looking to leave their existing employer since the turn of the New Year, the pressure is on bosses to keep their best staff committed and motivated.

In order to do so, Dr Lynda Shaw says managers need to tap into two main motivators – staff fulfilment and rewards.

Regarding staff fulfilment, Shaw describes it as an internal motivation relating to worker pride, work ethic and passion for the work itself. An individual who experiences a decrease in staff fulfilment is likely to become unsatisfied in their role.

Lack of job satisfaction is being cited as the number one reason for the desire to change roles, with almost half of employees believing they would be more satisfied elsewhere, a study by Investors in People showed.

In addition to retaining workers, stimulating employee interest and passion for their role has been shown by several scientific studies to boost their productivity. Economists at the University of Warwick found happiness made people around 12% more productive.

Shaw explained: “This type of motivation comes from within ourselves and pushes us to always do the best we can. Intrinsic motivation often stems from curiosity and something we enjoy. It enables self-development which on the surface seems selfish, but is in actual fact the way we develop a broad range of transferable skills to overcome different types of challenges.”

Offer praise

Australian entrepreneur Naomi Simson, the founder of RedBalloon, was forced to completely transform the way the company treated its employees by addressing the fulfilment needs of workers after experiencing a 60% staff turnover rate in a single year.

Focusing on offering more praise to staff, hiring better managers and allowing employees more time with friends and family, Simson said the change was crucial to running a business in which workers are happy and feel as though they are valued.

“In terms of praise, it's not about an entitlement culture,” she said. “It's about encouraging people to do more praising because when you give you feel great.

“Managers are there to nurture the uniqueness of individuals, which is different to leadership. It's about amplifying the greatness of people in their roles.”

Shaw also proposes that managers need to provide staff with sufficient external motivation, such as monetary incentives, benefits and promotions.

Staff remuneration is, unsurprisingly, a major factor in dictating the nature of the relationship between workers and their employers. Employees who believe they are underpaid for their work can soon become resentful of their employer, lowering their motivation and willingness to go over-and-above the standard tasks demanded in their role.

In the 2015 Compensation Best Practices Report, PayScale found that the number one reason most people left a company was compensation; the majority of respondents cited "seeking higher pay elsewhere" as their reason for leaving.

By contrast, studies by Michael Reich in 2003, and Alexandre Mas in 2006 suggest that higher salaries and bonuses for lower-income workers can lead to consistently improved work performances.

It's not all about the money

But the benefits offered by managers don’t necessarily have to be cash-related to be effective.

Investing in a better, more comfortable and safer office, for example, has been found to increase productivity by up to 16% and job satisfaction by as much as 24% while also reducing absenteeism, according to VIBE.

Shaw says it is imperative that employees enjoy the time they spend at work, but said managers shouldn’t be forced into giving in to gimmicks they may have seen being implemented successfully elsewhere.

“There is pressure on bosses to provide the workplace with slides, juice bars, chef catered lunches, segways and team holidays, because a handful of certain large wealthy companies have been able to do so,” she said. “Most companies can’t afford these sorts of gimmicks but team-building activities chosen by the team, Christmas parties and pizzas being bought in when employees are having to work late are deemed to show employees that they are appreciated and also help them build social/work relationships as well.

“There are many dynamics to consider to build a successful team, but one of the key areas is that of emotional intelligence (EQ). Each team member needs to understand and consider the others as well as themselves. Therefore, the more a team gets to know one another in a relaxed creative environment the more efficient and healthy they will be.”

Here are Shaw’s five tips for managers determined to motivate their team

1. Take an interest in the future path of an employee’s career. By working with each employee to create their own personal development plan, showing you care about their career will improve their attitude.

2. Listen to your employees. It shows respect to your staff and that they are valued as part of the team.

3. Personalise your praise. Figure out your employees’ personalities so that you can make the right motivational choices.

4. Inspire creativity. Encourage your employees to voice their great ideas and be receptive, allowing them to be comfortable with taking calculated risks.

5. Once in a while, you have put work aside and do something nice for the people who work for you. So order a pizza or let everyone leave early on a Friday every once in awhile.

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