Recognition is how to motivate your employees. Do you fear that today’s employees are sometimes un-motivate-able? Here’s the good news; employee motivation is easier than you might realize. Today’s employees really are motivated through recognition. The key is to understand the various kinds of activities considered to be recognition of an employee’s abilities, hence motivational for today’s employees.
A while back I conducted an employee motivation research project while I was traveling North America for the Dun & Bradstreet Foundation delivering full-day public seminars, targeted to business. After several months and hundreds of responses to a simple question, “What can your boss, or your company, do to improve your company loyalty?” It was amazing! Over 50% of the responses were: recognition, or something very similar. Guess what, it is the same today.
Part of Something Bigger
When you can find a way to help your employees to be part of something bigger than them, they are more engaged and their work has a purpose beyond the daily grind,,that’s recognition. For most of today’s active workforce in North America , this involvement is perceived as recognition. They receive pleasure from participating in something special; a huge marketing and sales campaign, a contest, company reorganization, special research project, community activity, etc.
The smart employer that really understands employee motivation gets in front and leads. As an example, a community project might seem like a drain on resources for a small business, but really is a marketing/publicity campaign if administered correctly. Employees are allowed to spend a small amount of company time on the project and encouraged to spend some of their own time doing the same. The innovative business leader finds ways to “spin” the project for publicity which will translate to more community involvement with the company and into increased sales.
Give Them Some Control through Recognition
It has been proven over and over again since the famous “Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works” study conducted by Harvard back in the late 1930s that employee productivity increases when the employees have control over their environment. I wrote about a similar situation that I observed at a Grand Rapids manufacturing company in my first book, “The Art of Partnering.” When employees took over control of the worst production line at the factory, they solved many of the challenges. The line soon became one of the most productive and also desirable among employees to work. In both cases the employees were given the recognition of trust that they could successfully control their work environment.
Trust and Respect Are Powerful Recognition Tools
Today’s employees want to be trusted and respected as having something to contribute beyond mindless labor and compliance; and they want it now! For the “Baby Boomer” aged business leader, trust and respect is something that must be earned over a period of time. The natural gap here is the length of time. In order to motivate today’s employees, older business leaders must dramatically speed up their distribution of trust and respect—not a naturally easy thing to do.
For many of today’s employees, an employer’s recognition through trust equals respect in their minds; and respect equals belonging. If you can see your way to helping your employees to have an emotional ownership in belonging to the community of your organization, they will see that as recognition and will be motivated to participate at accelerated levels within the “community.” This accelerated participation, if channeled correctly, will mean accelerated productivity.
Give What They Cannot Buy
It goes without saying that you have to pay (total package) your employees well. If you do not, your competitors will. However, beyond the compensation package, you will find a myriad of opportunities to show appreciation for the value employees deliver to your organization.
Find, discover, and develop appreciation (recognition) in conduits with legs. When you hand out cash recognitions, the cash disappears instantly and is forgotten almost as quickly. Let’s say that you gave an employee $200. There are a number of consumable niceties that they could instantly enjoy—then they simply want more cash.
Or, perhaps take that same $200 and have your company logo embroidered on the back of a trendy leather jacket. Give the jacket to that same employee. How long to you think they will enjoy the jacket? Most likely for years, and every time they wear the jacket it is a reminder of your appreciation for their work. By the way, whatever you select as recognitions, make sure those items are not available to employees through purchase. Give them what they cannot but.
Recognition for today’s employees need not be elusive to employers. To motivate today’s employees, recognitions must be thought-out and implemented with the same care as a military operation; innovate, research, decide, organize, and implement. Do these things any you will motivate your employees to do more and be more than you had previously considered possible.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.
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