The Probability is, it’s Probably Not Ability
The current workplace is increasingly disparate from the workplace of 20 years ago. Today, employers must ask themselves what, outside of a paycheck, is motivating employees. Compensation packages are important and need to be reasonable for the education level, time commitment and effort expected; however, there has to be more. Today’s employees need a reason. If you are finding it difficult to understand why your employees are not performing to your expected standard or why projects aren’t being completed with the enthusiasm with which they begin, ask yourself how you are motivating your employees to be the efficient, unrelenting stewards of your service, your product, your brand.
There is strong probability that their underperformance has nothing to do with their ability. Unless you have been negligent in providing the necessary training, these are the same creative, energetic, driven individuals that you hired. More likely they have lost their passion because without the proper motivation they are disconnected from their purpose. It is vital to ensure they find that purpose.
Purpose? Yes! You have recognized an increasingly important factor in having a strong, efficient, energized and creative 21stCentury workforce. What can you do? You will need to create opportunities for your employees to find that which motivates them and gives them purpose. Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Business School said in the May 1998 edition of Harvard Business Review, “People work for money, but they work even more for meaning in their lives. In fact, they work to have fun. Companies that ignore this fact are essentially bribing their employees and will pay the price in lack of loyalty and commitment.” Here are a few potential offerings you can provide that may help to provide meaning:
One…Vacations are a time to recharge. By law every Country in the European Union are required to provide at least four weeks of paid vacation annually. Providing paid vacation allows employees to use time to remain connected to family, hobbies they are passionate about and/or simply enjoy themselves. It provides the employee a chance to recharge their inner selves. From a production standpoint, a planned vacation can set a date by which projects need to be completed. Yes, the upcoming vacation can predict and inform when work will be completed. Besides, how productive is an employee staring out the window dreaming of their next vacation? Vacation time can be introduced in a variety of ways. For example, an employer can limit the amount any one employee can take at one time or even limit which members of a team can take vacation at the same time. You can protect productivity and give employees time to clear their mind, reenergize themselves and engage with purpose outside of the workplace. When they get back to work, they will likely be more productive. Numerous studies have shown that taking time away from work can have a variety of health benefits. People who use vacation time tend to have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and are generally more motivated to achieve goals. Sounds like a great employee, right? Don’t be afraid to provide additional paid vacation time or even use compensated time off as a reward for completing a project on time and on budget.
Two…Grow, evolve and stay engaged. Providing opportunities for employees to develop and evolve is a powerful way to create workplace purpose. Today, the unemployment rate is at all-time lows. Job applicants have choice. This choice between opportunities leads the best applicants to strongly consider their own growth as a determining factor in their decision to join an organization. Creating a development path for your employees – especially those employees that exhibit leadership potential – is a great way to attract and retain the strongest candidates. Investing in your employee’s development also keeps those employees engaged. They are working toward the next development goal or leadership level knowing that it is achievable and what it will take to achieve it. Nothing creates lazy work habits and a bad attitude faster than realizing no matter what you do, your career has plateaued.
Three…Do onto others. An alternative method of motivating employees is to tap into their energy and passion for causes outside of the workplace. For example, create an employee of the month program and provide each winner with a $100, $200 or $500 donation to a community-based non-profit organization of their choice. Sound too expensive? No problem. Allow for one employee per month (or an employee of the month) to promote and recruit volunteers for a cause they are passionate about. Having a crew of volunteers in the community can also generate positive publicity for your business!
Regardless of the motivation method(s) you chose, do not underestimate the power of purpose as it relates to the quality and effectiveness of your workforce. Combining a reasonable compensation package with additional opportunities to create a greater meaning and connection between your organization and your employees will fend off the lazy work habits and bad attitude. Your employees will become your most effective recruiting tool. They will be energized and eager to share the creative and motivating aspects of their work environment. You will attract and retain the highest quality candidates. Don’t be afraid to use motivation that taps into your employees’ sense of purpose. In the end, everybody wins.