Training, Development & Retention

Tips and Ideas to Engage Your Employees and Outperform the Competition!

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jacqueline thorpCompanies lose millions of dollars a year because of employee disengagement. Your company does NOT have to be one of them.  Disengaged employees and a high turnover rate, impact your business' productivity, level of innovation, and ultimately the bottom line. The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) has published a study exploring how workplace learning affects employee engagement levels with the following data:

  1. It is critical to understand how critical hiring the right talent is the first step to a motivated workforce,
  2. how managing performance plans for future success,
  3. how training creates a culture of engagement and
  4. how employee engagement gives your company a competitive edge...and
  5. how failure to keep talented employees motivated can cause you a great deal of grief.

The success of any business can usually be traced back to motivated employees. It isn't hard to keep your employees stoked for success. Utter a kind word, offer some small recognition for services rendered and you'll have an office full of motivated workers.

  1. Offer incentives to motivate your employees. These can be vacations, days off, dinner, movie passes, free parking for a month, commissions, bonuses and other rewards. Your employees will be more efficient if they know they will be recognized for their extra efforts.
  2. Tell your employees they are important. Employers often forget the power of sincere compliments. Make the recognition public.
  3. Coach employees and make them feel like they are on the same level as you. Ask their opinions on important decisions and problems. Treat them as equals and as assets to the company.
  4. Motivate employees by giving them more serious responsibilities.  Give them a sense of power in their own job; let them learn and lead in their own area.
  5. Lead by example. Arrive on time for work or before your employees and greet people as they come into the office. Ask them if they need anything. Let them feel your support.
  6. Learn what is the motivator or what each person values, for there is no sole motivator. One person may value recognition, in comparison to another person who values monetary incentives.
  7. Do not use negative motivation tactics, which include belittling and sarcasm.
  8. Be consistent. As the leader, you must be consistent. Employees must know that you do not have a split personality. Being consistent will allow employees to trust you.
  9. Take into consideration others' opinions. Simply put, getting employees' input will illustrate that you value what they have to say. Above all, when they give their opinions, listen to their concerns or opinions.
  10. Do not micromanage. Micromanaging can cause resentment. When employees feel resentful, they are less motivated, for often times they have "I don't care" attitudes.
  11. Show that you care about them. For example, you can recognize their birthdays by ordering a birthday cake and ice cream. Even though it may be a small gesture, a small gesture can motivate employees in the workplace.
  12. Catch them doing something good and call them on it! A personalize certificate and small little trophy in public with a handshake goes a long way.
  13. Try an Employee of Excellence" program, where all staff are allowed to nominate someone, explain in detail why they felt they were worthy, and the CEO makes the final decision.  Give out the award at the annual given by the CEO.
  14. Determine what you want to accomplish with the program, how it supports the goals of the business, then find a way to measure levels of performance, i.e., if you've had problems with tardiness, offer a bonus for all employees that have 60 days of showing up on time.
  15. Generally, I advise against any recognition system that is designed to produce one winner and a lot of losers.  For example, if you have 20 people in a department and one person gets "employee of the month," then you've created many more losers than winners.  However, if you can use objective measures to get them to work together as a team and offer them something special (that they care about), then you'll turn on their creativity and innovation and they just might surprise you in a very positive way.
  16. Ask your people what is important to them.  Not everyone wants their photo posted for the world to see.  Not everyone wants tickets to the next Dodgers game.  Not everyone wants a closer parking space (maybe they carpool).
  17. Start by setting a goal for your staff. Letting them know what you would like and letting them help come up with a plan of action to reach that goal. Now the fun part...tell them what their reward will be for completing the task.
  18. Motivate employees with a free day.  Give them a "free pass" - this could be a pass for a free day off from work (one that won't count against their vacation and/or sick days).  A day off with pay is something every employee will enjoy!
  19. "Gonna Have Fun Day" - This can be as easy as family passes to a local Amusement Park; A family day at the local town park with a cookout, kickball/baseball game, etc.; or take a class together at a Home Improvement store, ceramic painting or some other art class. Let your staff give input on what they would like as a "fun day" and go for it. A little fun never hurt anyone.
  20. Motivate Employees with "fresh fruit tasting".  Something as simple as buying donuts, or fresh fruit and coffee for your employees once a week and discussing something other than work will motivate some employees also. All employees want to know you care, so taking the time to really talk to them and getting to know them will help motivate them to do more as an employee.

Make sure you are specific about what you are giving recognition for. It helps the employee know what they did and helps them continue to do so.

And make sure you know your employee. Some employees don't want to be the center of attention, so making a big deal out of something in front of everyone can do more harm than good.

Remember working with your employees will let them know you want them to succeed, which in turn will help your company succeed.

Make sure you give the recognition soon after your employee does something. Match the recognition with the performance.

More motivation tips:

-Overall satisfaction
-Work environment
-Supervisor relations
-Pay and benefits
-Corporate culture
-Job satisfaction
-Most important motivating factor

The most efficient way to create this survey is to use multiple choice and scale-based questions instead of open-ended. This way it will be easy to see quickly where the motivation holes are.

Keep the survey short and anonymous, but allow for comments.

REMEMBER: Not everyone is motivated by the same things!

There are many companies, i.e. Zoomerang or Survey Monkey, that allow you to create a free online survey to make the process even easier.

If you administered an online survey, this process may go quicker than a manual survey.

The importance of an employee motivation survey is to determine the WHAT behind employee motivation. The next step to determine is the HOW to motivate the staff.

This may not be required if the staff seems to stay motivated. This is best determined on a case by case basis. But, even in highly motivated companies, the survey will also reveal the reasons behind that motivation. This is also good information to know!

  1. Motivational Theories
    Increasing employee motivation in the workplace can increase productivity, reduce costs and make processes more efficient. Psychologists have been studying the art of motivation throughout the years and have developed theories to explain how employees are motivated and what businesses can do to increase their motivation.

  2. Hierarchy of Needs
    Employees have five levels of needs, according to Abraham Maslow, a behavioral scientist. The five levels of needs that he has found are basic, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization. Employees must satisfy the first three needs of basic, safety and social to reach the next two levels. For example, if the employee is unable to provide his family with their basic needs of an adequate home or food then he will not be motivated by rewards targeted for his self-esteem. This type of employee would be more motivated by monetary rewards than being recognized for his performance.

  3. Expectancy Theory
    Victor Vroom's expectancy theory is based on employees needing to know that they will be rewarded for their hard work. This theory includes three beliefs: expectancy, instrumentality and valence. Vroom found that employees must clearly understand what is expected from them, which performance levels will be rewarded and that they value the rewards offered.

  4. Equity Theory
    Stacy Adams, a behavioral psychologist, found that if employees believe that they are putting in more work than what they are being compensated for, that they will react with demotivating behavior. Employees will rectify the imbalance by being late for work, not being efficient, become careless or lose interest in work.

  5. Operant Conditioning Theory
    An American psychologist, B.F. Skinner, has found that there are four intervention strategies that can change a person's level of motivation. The first two strategies are positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement encourages good behavior by providing a favorable reward when they do something good, while negative reinforcement is providing an unpleasant response or action to unfavorable behavior. The third strategy is punishment, which is providing a very negative response to their action or behavior. The fourth strategy is extinction, in which discourages behavior by not providing any reinforcement at all, for instance, by ignoring or not acknowledging the employee.¢


About Jacquelyn Thorp, MSHR, SPHR-CA

Jacquelyn is a trainer and partner in Train Me Today, a consortium of trainers that center it’s training around Human Resource Management, Supervisor Development, Management Coaching, Leadership, Team Building, Communication, The Four Generations in the Workplace, Conflict Management, Ethics, Leaves of Absence, Discrimination and Harassment prevention, Retaliation, Diversity, Sensitivity and Food Safety training with an emphasis on business best practices and problem prevention. Our clients include prominent national hotels, restaurants, manufacturing, water districts, retailing, attorneys, healthcare service provides and high-tech enterprises.

With the goal of helping clients prevent dysfunctional employment issues, Jacquelyn and her team provide coaching and training to clients nationwide on employment-related issues to optimize business effectiveness, productivity, employee relations and profits.

Before Train Me Today

Prior to launching Train Me Today, Jacquelyn’s thirty years as a Human Resource practitioner span from the late 1970’s to the new millennium. Beginning as the secretary to the Vice President of Industrial Relations, Jacquelyn’s last corporate position was as the Vice President of Human Resources for Perfectly Fresh (a produce packager for luxury cruises and hotels). Jacquelyn also was the Human Resource Director at Vista Paint (a paint manufacturer and retailer), Vans (A footwear manufacturer and retailer), Springs Industries (a Fortune 50 Manufacturing Company), NorthStar-at-Tahoe (a year ski and golf resort), Playmates Toys (a toy manufacturer) and CalComp (a computer manufacturer). She taught Organization Behavior and Human Resource Management at California State University Fullerton before moving to the Inland Empire where she teaches the Legal Aspects of Human Resources for the University of Redlands.

Beyond Train Me Today

Jacquelyn is a volunteer and frequent presenter for the California Employer Advisory Council, Professionals in Human Resource Association, North County Personnel Association, Southern California Wine Country SHRM and other associations requiring expertise in Human Resources topics. Unrelated to HR she volunteers as the Leader of the Neighborhood Watch Program, sponsor for the Tahquitz High School Cheer Team and sponsor for the Kenya Project (orphanages being built in Kenya).

Jacquelyn Thorp, MSHR, SPHR-CA is the recipient of PIHRA’s HR Excellence award, Excellence in HR award and Volunteer of the Year award.  She earned the PHR, SPHR and the CA certification through successfully passing the HRCI exams.  With over 30 years in the business environment, Jacquelyn devotes her energy to training HR practitioners to prepare for the PHR and SPHR exam; preventing harassment and discrimination; and promoting professionalism in the field of HR management.  A graduate of Chapman University, Jacquelyn holds a Master of Science in Human Resources and a Bachelor of Arts in Organization Leadership.


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