'As a soft skills trainer, one of the number one questions I am asked is how to motivate employees. Motivated employees positively impact both internal and external customers, which in turn increases the overall productivity and success of an organization. When motivation comes up, the topic of money also comes up. Do raises really increase motivation? Is monetary compensation really the best way to get the most out of your staff?
Before we tackle this question, I think its essential that we highlight one of the most popular psychological theories in motivation. Abraham Maslow created a pyramid that is knows as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This pyramid details human needs. Although this pyramid can be applied to many different domains, it is extremely relevant when discussing employee motivation.
Maslow’s pyramid highlights that individuals have different levels of needs. They begin with basic needs. These basic needs relate to their physiological and safety needs. Physiological needs refer to the basic needs such as food, water and sleep. Safety needs include feeling as though you and your family are safe. Once these needs are met, an individual begins to look for love and belonging. This is found through family and friendship. Once these first three levels of needs are met the individual moves on to ‘esteem’ and ‘self-actualization.’ Even though when climbing the pyramid the needs become less essential, they do not become less important.
Let’s put this pyramid in the context of the average workplace. Where does money fall in this pyramid? Money is an extremely important motivator on the first and second level. When an individual does not have sufficient or feels a threat to their food, water, and/or shelter, money is a big motivator. In this case, a raise can do wonders for an employee's motivation. Money has the ability to strongly impact an employee's quality of life at these levels. Therefore, if your employees are struggling at these first two levels, money will indeed be a key motivator.
Now, let's move on to the third, fourth and fifth level. Can money buy family, friendship, confidence and morality? Individuals whose needs are in these top three levels are motivated by more than money. Although I am sure everyone would be happy with a raise, a raise will not keep individuals on these levels motivated. Take the employee whose salary is increased from $2500 to $2650 a month. The first few months this may be motivating, but what happens after the employee gets used to the pay increase? Does it still serve as a motivator?
It’s extremely important that leaders get to know their employees. Money certainly impacts an employees level of motivation, but employee motivation is a much more in-depth topic. It goes far beyond an increase of dollars and cents. For management teams to create an optimal environment for employees to thrive, they have to be willing to understand what motivates their staff..
Here is my top 5 employee motivators.
1. A sense of belonging. Belonging is a basic human need, and when employees believe that they belong and are important to the team, their dependability and quality of work increases.
2. Clear expectations. When expectations are not clear, confusion can occur. Make a point of having a written and verbal system to clarify expectations. This will make it more likely that management and employees are on the same page.
3. A voice. Employees want to feel as though they are heard and have a say in the plans of the team.
4. Confidence. Employees need to see their managers as competent and capable. Once they see this, they become more confident in their leaders. They also need to feel as though their leader has confidence in them.
5. Progress. Employees need to see that progress is being made on collective and personal goals.
If you are interested in finding out more about employee motivation, contact Yolande at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shifting Perspectives is a weekly conversation with Yolande. Yolande, a Canadian of Caribbean descent, now calls the Turks and Caicos Islands home and in this podcast challenges Caribbean woman worldwide to fuel themselves with diversity in the way they think, the way they work, the way they parent and the way they live.