Unlocking employee motivation: Strategies beyond money and promotions

Unlocking employee motivation: Strategies beyond money and promotions

By on Jun 13, 2023 in Best Practices, Blog, Compensation, Compensation Consulting, HR Consulting, Human Resources consulting |

A recent SHRM article discusses the importance on non-cash elements to motivating and rewarding employees.  The reality in many workplaces today is that the best and brightest talent will jump ship if they feel they’ve topped out on salary or can’t expect a promotion anytime soon. And that’s fair: Workers, especially top performers, will naturally want higher titles and compensation to reflect their contribution levels.

That’s especially true at companies where pay has skyrocketed for certain hard-to-find employees while remaining flat or falling for others. So how do companies keep great workers engaged when budget and promotional limits could otherwise stifle career growth?

First, let’s be clear about two things:

  1. People join companies but leave managers.
  2. The relationship to the boss and the learning curve are the two most critical aspects of employee retention.

In today’s workplace, talented employees are likely to seek new opportunities if they feel limited in salary or career advancement prospects. This is especially true in organizations where certain employees are rewarded generously while others experience stagnant or decreasing compensation. To address this challenge and keep valuable employees engaged, it is crucial to focus on the relationship between employees and their managers and provide meaningful learning experiences.

It is crucial for HR professionals to understand that their role is not to directly motivate employees, as motivation is self-driven. Instead, HR should focus on creating an environment that fosters self-motivation. By implementing the following strategies, organizations can effectively engage and retain their employees:

Increase opportunities for delegation: Delegating stretch assignments that align with employees’ long-term career goals can provide on-the-job training and foster motivation. Employees should be given hands-on experience in areas they find exciting and meaningful. By exposing employees to different parts of the organization, they can gain valuable insights and grow professionally.

Introduce rotational leadership for staff meetings: Leadership development opportunities are highly valued by employees. Allowing employees to run weekly staff meetings and take on management responsibilities can contribute to their professional growth and sense of ownership.

Explore external training opportunities: Considering the rising costs of higher education, offering professional certificates and specialized seminars can be an alternative for employees seeking career advancement. By providing opportunities for continuous learning, organizations can meet employees’ desire for personal growth and development.

Hold quarterly professional development meetings: Regular one-on-one meetings with employees can strengthen relationships, identify individual values, review progress towards goals, and discuss professional development opportunities. These meetings should provide a safe space for employees to share their self-assessment, seek support, and express their needs.

Building personal relationships with employees is crucial for effective leadership, especially in remote or hybrid work settings. Leaders should listen actively and make themselves available to understand what motivates each individual. Recognizing that motivation varies from person to person, organizations can create programs that turn employees on without incurring significant costs. By demonstrating a personal commitment, providing a learning curve, and offering challenging and meaningful work, organizations can avoid high turnover and establish a reputation as outstanding leaders.

In today’s business landscape, where resources are limited, and promotions and salary increases are scarce, prioritizing personal relationships and continuous learning is key to successful employee retention.

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