Motivating Employees in a Down Economy

There are several principles that managers can employ to keep employees motivated during a downturn.

First, communicate twice as much as you normally would.  There is a lot of anxiety, rumor, gossip, and stress among employees.  They need to be kept informed about company performance, progress toward goals, and about their own performance.  Keep the dialog open, informal, and frequent.

Second, make sure each employee knows how their contribution impacts the bottom line.  Help them understand that what they do matters.  Show them that doing better benefits the entire organization and  makes the entire company successful.

Third, be sure managers understand the ‘WIIFM’ principle.  Employees will only be motivated for their reasons, not management’s.  Corporate leaders must know what their employees work for, what inspires them, and why they come back everyday.  It will be different for each of the four generations working in your company, but it must appeal to them individually.

If you start with just an informal, conversational survey of your employee’s motivations, you’ll be off to a good start.

The Strategic Value of Employee Empowerment (Part 2)

Strategic Employers give more than just lip service to employee empowerment.  They know that the best people are looking for this, particularly workers in Generation X and the Millennials.  Last week I wrote about the first five of ten employee empowerment tips.  Here are the rest….

6) Glory through delegation – don’t just give your employees the “grunt” work, give them an opportunity to shine with important tasks and jobs as well.

7) Demonstrate that problems are caused by faults in the system, not by faults in  people.  Let your employees solve the problems by changing the systems, not their co-workers.

8) Feedback, feedback, feedback – do yourself a favor and tell your people how they are doing and tell them often.

9) Recognize and reward your people when they do something  through their empowerment.

10) Provide direction by asking lots of questions.

Do Millenials Really Have a Bad Attitude?

Management Attitudes and Generation Y (Millennials)

Of all the generations that complain to me about Millennials, it is the Boomers who seem to have the most difficulty.  They can’t seem to understand why this generation approaches work so differently (and if the Boomers were truthful they’d say “wrongly”).  Boomer managers focus so much of their attention on changing the Millennials on their team that they become extremely frustrated and often drive the person away.  This is costly and unnecessary.  Millennials are going to arrive at your company with very different attitudes about work; regardless of whether you think these attitudes are right or wrong.  Perhaps what should be more frustrating to Boomers is the fact that they created this attitude in the Millennials!

The Millennial generation, the children of the Boomers, saw their parents move from job to job during most of their working years.  What the Millennials learned, much faster than their parents, is that you will not be rewarded for loyalty to a company.  Even Boomers who worked for companies for decades found themselves laid off or their jobs eliminated.    This often created hardship, anxiety, and financial pain for their families.  Millennials lived through this and saw the effect on their parents.  Is it any wonder that they think about work  very differently than Boomers?

This experience has not only influenced the Millennial’s loyalty factor, it has shaped their entire way they view a “career”.  They fully expect to spend their working years as more “free agent” than “company man (or woman)”.  As soon as they perceive their employer has run out of opportunities, they will begin looking elsewhere.  Boomer managers should focus more on engaging and creating opportunities that appeal to this generation than trying to change them.  You can’t change them, they won’t respond to it, and you really have no one else to hire.  If you want to end your management frustration with this generation, you’ll have to first change your attitude about them.

“Show Me the Money” – Really?

This memorable line from Jerry McGuire is often used as a refrain to “seal the deal.” In every business transaction and employment relationship it always comes down to the money… or does it? The money is important to every business transaction. It is the basis on which most business relationships are established. For businesses it almost always comes down to the money. But is this always true of employees? Do people only go to work and stay for just the highest salary?

Most research indicates that salary is not the top motivator of employees. In fact, it consistently ranks lower than several other factors. If this is true, then why do employees seem to emphasize salary so often? It is because in most organizations salary is the only means of recognition given to employees.

Recently we conducted a poll on our website. Our site has a large audience of people actively seeking new positions in health care. We asked visitors the following question…

Which of the following is most important to you when evaluating a new job?

The possible answers were Challenge of job, Location, Company Stability, Advancement Opportunity, and Salary. Only 27% of those responding selected Salary as the most important factor when evaluating a new job. Yet for many organizations salary remains the most significant retention and motivational tool in use. Unfortunately this strategy is flawed. It does not address the more significant issues that attract, or repel, the best people.

Employees consistently say they want a “fair salary” and they rank other job factors higher. Employees who will only consider “top dollar” are essentially mercenaries and will yield little long-term impact on a business. They could be useful for short-term, high growth needs, but this attitude is actually detrimental to developing a company culture of sustained growth, low turnover, and high employee productivity and satisfaction. Today employees want to do work that is meaningful and they want to be compensated fairly. And while the evidence of this is very recognizable, the multi-generational aspect of our modern workforce makes this very hard to implement.

Motivating employees today is more complex than ever before. This is one impact of the unprecedented atmosphere of four generations working together – each with its own unique definition of meaningful work. Boomers need one set of values out of work, Millennials another and the Gen X’s and Veterans need yet another set of meaningful principles. This is a dangerous situation since most business leaders don’t understand how to manage a multi-generational workforce. It requires a new approach and a new strategy to employee motivation, a strategy in which salary will play an even smaller role.

Businesses and organizations need to re-think salary as their most significant attraction and retention tool. There is no question that income will remain very important to employees. Fair wages will always be a key driver. Businesses must examine their search, selection, and retention strategies and process. They must align and integrate them with the needs of each generation. Those businesses who continue to use pay as their most significant motivating force will soon find they are paying too much for too many of the wrong kinds of employees.

Richard Yadon, CPC, CERS, is the President and CEO of Health Career Professionals, LLC, a health care executive search, selection, and retention firm. To implement any of these strategies, please contact Richard at 866.371.0687 x.110.