An organisation whose employees lack motivation is like an engine that lacks oil. According to a case study from ARM Holdings plc and The Times 100, around 75% of an organisation’s employees are neither 'engaged' nor 'disengaged'. The vast majority of employees at the average organisation are merely floating through their jobs, foregoing the vast potential for success they have as individuals and as contributors to their company.
Motivation (or lack thereof) hinges on three main factors:
- Management structure
- Reward and compensation opportunities for employees
- Matching an employee’s skills and competencies with their job description
Focusing on developing opportunities for motivation around these three factors can transform your disgruntled workforce into satisfied, hard-working assets. Here is a brief analysis of those three principal factors.
Management structure: Often, a company’s management style conditions employees to give less than their best through the 'art of demotivation'. How can employees realise their full potential when they are limited by rules, regulations, company culture, and the fear of constant scrutiny?
If you suspect your company’s management style may be at the root of less-than-motivated employees, you have some options:
- Hold collaborative team-building exercises to facilitate a “flatter” company structure. This will encourage employees to try new ideas, innovate, and develop their own initiative.
- Give new responsibilities to employees. Having opportunities to step outside their comfort zone, in conjunction with positive feedback, will reinforce confidence in their abilities while developing new skills.
- Focus on communicating with employees. This means taking on board employee input, not just engaging in one-sided, top-down communication.
- Be a resource for your employees. Provide them with what they need - opportunities, knowledge, resources, etc
Reward and compensation opportunities: What good is it for an employee to put their best work on the line when there may be no hope of being recognised or compensated? With a clear system of rewards, promotions and privileges in place, employees have the motivation to give the extra effort to succeed.
For example, The Royal Bank of Scotland utilises a policy of 'Total Reward' with accolades such as flexible pension funding, health and medical benefits, paid holidays, and confidential advising services. Giving employees personal and professional development opportunities such as these provides them with the motivation to go above and beyond what is expected.
Just be sure that your reward system is couched in specific metrics for employee evaluation. If employees understand the rewards available to them, but have no clue about how to access those rewards, they may end up more frustrated and demotivated than before.
Skills and competencies that match the job description: It doesn’t make much sense for a plumber to be maintaining a company’s IT system. It can be very demotivating and frustrating for an employee to be working on a project they know very little about, especially if their primary skill-set lies in a different job area.
As a manager, it is important to match employees' talents with the skills necessary to do their job. Managers should take the time to speak with employees both at the point of hire and throughout their employment to create the connection between company objectives and the employee’s goals and values.
Overall, motivation is not something you can inject into your employees, nor is it something that can be manufactured on the spot. By following the three principal factors of motivation outlined, an organisation can foster a positive work environment that encourages employees to strive for innovation and excellence in their work.
Click here for more case studies on motivation from The Times 100.