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5 factors that drive your employees other than money

11 May 2022

While salary is an important element of employee retention, Hays’ Marc Burrage outlines the other areas employers need to bear in mind.

If you were to ask your employees to work for free, the chances are that most of them would decline the invitation. But apart from telling us what we already know – namely that money is important for putting food on the table – it doesn’t tell us how big a motivating factor it really is once our basic needs are met.

There have been many studies conducted into the subject over the years, and one conclusion they all reach is that, for most of us, money’s more of a sub-motivator than a prime mover when it comes to why we come to work every day.

In fact, in a Hays survey of more than 5,500 people conducted at the end of 2019 confirmed that only 13pc of those looking for a new job at the time were doing so because they were dissatisfied with their current salary and benefits.

Other factors played far more of a role. 40pc were looking for a new position simply because they felt it was time for a change, and 22pc wanted improved training and career progression opportunities.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of those factors that are likely to matter to your people more than money in really inspiring and motivating them every day.

Feeling a sense of meaning and purpose in their work

People are now increasingly looking for more meaning and purpose in their professional lives – in other words, they want to feel that they’re really contributing to and making a difference to our world.

I think it’s safe to say that the pandemic has only heightened this feeling among professionals. After seeing the heroic efforts from healthcare and key workers, many may be re-evaluating their career choices in a bid to find more meaning, perhaps opting to focus on a different industry entirely. They may be looking to craft their existing role in some way, or perhaps even exploring a complete career change.

In fact, Harvard Business Review has reported that more than nine in 10 of us would be willing to earn less money for the opportunity to do more meaningful work – showing just how important a person’s purpose really is to them. As illustrated by productivity and leadership expert Bryan Collins: “A skilled employee might quit a company if he or she can’t see how their work affects the final product.”

It’s important that your employees understand the role they play within your business and feel like a vital cog. After all, the more impact an employee has in your business, the more likely they are to feel connected to it, and to aggregate the business’s success with their own.

Working in a positive company culture

Company culture can play a major role in driving employee motivation – as shown by research conducted by Deloitte which found a strong correlation between employees who claim to feel happy and valued at work, and those who regard their organisation as having a strong culture.

And as Hays CEO Alistair Cox said, “The culture of your organisation is its personality. It’s what makes it different from all the others. It’s what attracts talent and makes that talent want to stay with you for the long haul, no matter what challenges they face along the way.”

Improving your company culture has certainly become more challenging as a result of the crisis – however, we should see this change in ‘normality’ as the perfect opportunity to revisit, reboot and revive our company cultures.

After all, we’re going to have to work hard to ensure they are sustained with the rise of hybrid working patterns, whereby a portion of employees are based remotely and others are based in-office.

Click here to check out more on the Hays Viewpoint blog.

Being recognised for their hard work

Employees must be acknowledged and thanked equally for all of their contributions and achievements. US clinical psychologist Frederick Herzberg would have defined this as a ‘hygiene factor’ – something which will demotivate employees if it is not offered.

As outlined by our UK&I director of people and culture, Trisha Brookes, it is human nature to want others to acknowledge and recognise you for your contributions and recognising your employees helps to create an emotional connection between yourselves and the wider organisation.

However, you can do far more than just the minimum of financially remunerating an employee for their efforts and giving them the occasional proverbial ‘pat on the back’. Indeed, it’s in your own interests to praise your employees for a job well done.

This is because there are various powerful effects that employee praise has, including setting a standard of success, encouraging people to believe in themselves more and improving your chances of retaining and attracting talent.

But recognition also comes in many forms and should be tailored to each individual. It’s largely up to you and your good people management skills how well you execute it. Some employees would feel greatly encouraged by formal recognition in front of other colleagues, such as a certificate or a shout-out on a group video call, while others would prefer more personal and private praise. What’s certain is that we all get a kick out of being acknowledged for a job well done.

Bear in mind, though, that this recognition might be different in a hybrid working world than it was in the pre-crisis world; you may not physically see some of your team members regularly.

Therefore, you need to ensure your methods of recognition are inclusive of, and resonate as deeply with, your remote workers as well as your office-based workers. For instance, before you call a remote worker to personally thank them, think about whether you could instead organise a quick team meeting and publicly recognise them there.

Opportunities for learning and development in the workplace

By upskilling your employees you’re showing them that they matter to the business, that you see their potential and that there is room for progression within their role. What’s more motivating than being encouraged and supported to become a better version of you?

Sure enough, according to research from LinkedIn in 2019, 94pc of employees said they would stay at their companies longer if their employers took an active role in their learning and development. Not only that, but a Hays study at the end of 2019 also found that 22pc of people would leave their current job if they were offered better training opportunities elsewhere.

As director of Hays Australia Jane McNeill recommends, you should first conduct a skills assessment before deciding on what training you’re going to organise for each employee.

“This will enable you to identify any skills gaps and consider what skills – such as agile working, resilience or adaptability – will be important going forward.”

The employee will better appreciate, and be more motivated by, a sensible and well-considered plan of training for them. And remember, it doesn’t matter if your business or department has no budget for learning and development right now. Many of us have faced cuts in these areas in recent months. There are plenty of free and relevant training opportunities your employees can attend, such as webinars and online conferences – you just need to spend some time searching for them.

A clear path of career progression

It’s not enough just to enrol employees on training courses and webinars. What’s even more motivating for most professionals is being shown that there are more rungs on the career ladder that they can climb to within your business.

Research from LinkedIn has indicated that 45pc of people left their old job at least partly due to concern about a lack of opportunities for advancement, ahead of other potential reasons such as ‘I was unsatisfied with the leadership of senior management’ and ‘I was unsatisfied with the work environment/culture’.

All of these grievances can be fairly easily resolved by clearly articulating a plan of progression for your employees. Make sure that you regularly have meetings to discuss the employee’s ambitions and their promotion prospects within the business.

This is especially important given the current circumstances, as Hays Australia and New Zealand’s managing director Nick Deligiannis has explained. “In today’s world of work, where change is the only constant, being open and honest with your staff about their career ambitions and working together to achieve them can give you a strong retention advantage. So, it’s worthwhile taking a deep breath and making time to sit with your staff to have this important conversation.”

If an employee’s promotion aspirations can’t currently be realised because of a lack of financial resource or that position currently being filled, then giving them increased autonomy or say within the business could be a satisfactory compromise.

Hays UK director Karen Young has previously described how a horizontal career move – for example, moving across into a more technical position within the same organisation – can be just as good as a more obviously upward one for an employee’s long-term career prospects.

It’s well worth exploring these possibilities for any workers of yours who may feel reinvigorated by the opportunity to explore a new area and fill skills gaps. This could put them in a better position to make big career strides in the future.

By Marc Burrage

Marc Burrage is managing director of Hays Poland. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays Viewpoint blog.

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