Just 30 years ago, an employee could expect to go to work for a company that could last their entire career until retirement. Such a thing is almost unheard of in today’s business environment and I ask myself, why?
People used to be proud of where they worked and wore it like a badge of honor. They would brag about the achievements of their company to family and friends, and vigorously defend their company if challenged. Today, people more commonly “badmouth” their employer rather than praise their company. Again, I ask myself, why has this happened?
In my opinion, the root cause of such apathetic behavior stems from the feedback – or lack thereof – they get from their employer. They feel like a cog in a wheel that could easily be replaced. They feel inconsequential and unappreciated. When people feel like a number or a cog, their loyalty will only be to their paycheck or next better job.
In order for American businesses to thrive, I believe employees have to feel like they have “skin” in the game. Financial compensation isn’t always people’s most motivating stimuli. Often, praise and recognition for a job well done can be powerful tools for motivating personnel. Some techniques I’ve developed and adopted to help motivate and inspire my personnel are as follows:
Bonus given for a new client brought in. Upon so many bookings of a new client, I will give that employee a bonus on their next direct deposit. It encourages the staff member responsible for helping to secure the new client to “sell” themselves and our company to perspective clients, which in turn helps us as a company to continue to grow, as well as providing stability of future projects for that staff member by getting requests for work in the future.
Set pay increases across the board for everyone based on reaching set goals. Everyone then has a goal to work toward for company development, expertise development, as well as monetary increase for themselves and their families.
At least every other week I’ll stop at Starbucks and bring a treat in for the entire staff as a way to say, “Good job, everyone! I appreciate what you do each day and how hard you’re working.” I usually will say, “Here’s a little something to let you know I recognize your efforts and dedication. Keep up the great work and attitude!”
Weekly recognition of individuals within the company who have stepped up to help with a difficult situation, gone out of their way to help a client or to help the company, or extraordinary action on an individual’s part that wasn’t expected. Recognition of exemplary actions can lead to others following the example and driving company success.
Daily recognition of staff members for tasks performed above and beyond the call of duty. It’s easy to look past things like this and say, “It’s expected as part of your job,” but a little extra effort to show appreciation for a job well done will pay off in dividends to the company in the long run.
Yearly recognition awards for outstanding service to clients and/or the company. At Christmas, we do an outstanding service award to recognize individuals who developed beyond where they were to become an exemplary professional.
Reward events during the year to say “Thank You.” Every six months we do something big for everyone as a way to say, “Thanks for all you do to make us as a company a success.” We’ve done a spa day, all-day Viking Cooking School classes together, a company trip to a nearby location for a weekend getaway, etc. The main idea is to do something special for everyone as a group that lets them know they are appreciated and that their hard work has not gone unnoticed.
Finally, attempt to create an office environment that is a pleasant place to work. We have a fountain in our office that provides gentle water sounds, as well as gentle lighting and soft, colorful artwork that is peaceful and aids in creating a stress-free environment. We keep gentle music in the background to help the work day move along smoothly. There are still stressors that happen hourly within the office in addressing clients’ needs, but a kind environment makes those potentially difficult issues more manageable.
Before he passed away, my daddy gave me some advice that I’ve carried with me all these years and employ in my company on a daily basis. He said, “Son, if you take care of the people who work with you and appreciate them for their positive contributions, they will take care of you and your company will thrive because of it.” His advice was sound and has proven to be accurate.
With time and consistent effort, your company can become a positive place where employees enjoy coming to work. Happy workers are productive workers.