Ask employers across industries what qualities they desire in an employee and odds are you’ll receive a multitude of answers, ranging from “passion” to “commitment” to “productive”. But what each response essentially boils down to is: “motivated”. Motivation is essential to cultivating any and all of these desired traits. The trick for employers, however, is how to instill this motivation in employees.
The temptation for many companies is to turn to the simple solution: cash. Cough up more dough and reap the reward of increased motivation. Research, however, has proven that using money as a motivator does little to create a culture of engagement and prolonged productivity. Our start-up guidance: deal with money, not in money. Here’s how:
1. Determine what motivates prospective employees before hiring.
Why? It’s unrealistic to assume that a person’s values will change to mirror yours the second they set foot in the office. Gauging employee motivations in the interview ensures you know what you’re getting and can prepare for it. If an employee seems more interested in the financial benefits of your offer than the work itself, chances are he won’t hesitate to turn to competitors who can or will offer more.
2. Let employees set their salaries.
Why? It’s tough to complain, at least much, about something you yourself decide. If an employee proposes his or her own salary, chances are he or she believes it’s fair and won’t generate conflict over it in the future. Additionally, asking prospective employees to set their own salary, within reason, communicates respect and trust, qualities essential to a solid business relationship.
3. Determine your employees’ needs
Why? You can’t expect to retain talent if you can’t meet your employees’ needs, and you can’t meet your employees’ needs if you don’t know what they are. Determine these in the interview process. Get specific and ask prospective employees to walk you through their monthly bills. Doing so will ensure that, when asked, potential hires provide realistic salary figures.
Plus, armed with the knowledge of prospective employees’ true needs, you’ll be able to determine if you can honestly meet them. If not, avoid hiring, as you can be certain that if you’re not meeting this person’s needs, they will look elsewhere for someone who can.
4. Offer incentives other than money.
Why? While hope of a bonus may spur an employee to log extra hours in the weeks leading up to his or her review, this motivation is short lived. Money motivates, but not in the long term. Once an employee receives a financial reward, what’s to keep him or her from returning to a stagnant state? If you want to create and maintain motivation, use alternative incentives. Publicly praise an employee for a job well done, take a group of high performers out for lunch, or offer a leadership position to an individual who has proven his or her worth. Above all, make sure your employees are interested in their work, as a study from the Journal of Extension has proven this as the top motivational factor in the workplace.
For further suggestions on low cost ways to motivate employees see Iilya Pozin’s article for Inc., Pay Employees What They Ask For: Here’s Why or contact our CFO services experts for tailored assistance.