Qualithoughts by: Bryan Danta, Q2 HR Solutions Marketing Manager

A lot of things have been written about HR’s role in Motivating Employees. You can in fact Google them now see tons of materials giving tips and tools. But I want to talk about 3 Important Universal Factors we need to consider in Motivating Employees. These are:

1. Hiring
2. Rewarding
3. Work-Life Balance

HIRING

I’m sure you’re all familiar with Competency Based Interviews, or some times called Targeted Selection. There are a lot of tools and stuff on the web written about it, and in case you’re not familiar. Google it, but later. Please read what I have to say first.

I just like to stress one item that’s very important. “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears” (Simon Sinek, author of Leaders Eat Last). Sounds very utopian, but we have evidence that it is true, I’m sure you have too.

Look within your organization, look for the ones who have been with you through thick & thin and perform really well consistently. Try to recall them during their initial interview. Most of the time, you’ll remember immediately seeing their drive and passion aligning with what the values of your company stand for. It’s not always about what they can do, but it’s about what they believe in, and more often than not, this belief propels them to do wonders in your organization, not the incentives, not the bonuses & salary increases, but the Sense of Purpose. – Work that Matters.

Are your corporate values consistently the same with the new people you hire?

REWARDS

Work in it’s very essence, as started in the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution meant that – to produce more output, methods and machines should be placed to be handled by people.

And in the old days, to motivate people in producing better output, businessmen discovered carrots & sticks. They give incentives (carrots) at the end of every successfully performed task, and they give demerits (sticks) to people who do not perform well.

But here’s what social scientists & researchers found out recently – The Carrot and Stick style of managing people worked in the industrial age, and is still working for some because it only involves simple mechanical tasks. When given cognitive tasks, that involve analysis and creativity, more often than not, a larger reward leads to poorer performance. (Dr. Ariely U. Gneezy, G. Lowenstein & N. Mazar, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Working Paper, 2005)

In a similar study, Dr. Bernd Irlenbusch from the London School of Economics concluded, “Financial incentives can result in a negative impact on overall performance”.

But why?

According to Social Scientist Sam Gluckberg, bonuses and monetary incentives work to sharpen focus on a specific defined set of tasks or processes, like mechanical work. Here’s the disconnect – Today, most of our jobs don not just involve mechanical work and compliance in a set of rules. Today’s work demands that we Think and Analyse. And it is in this sense, that people should be rewarded based on the manner that they approached work and not only because they reached a certain target. And based on experience, the best reward is more often an acknowledgement of their actions.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

A lot of companies implement activities to hopefully strike a balance between work and the employee’s life & wellbeing. Most companies focus on Flexi-time or Dress Down Fridays or even Birthday Leaves. But these so-called ‘perks’ only mask the core issue – we don’t know our employees that well so we come up with our own ways of defining what they want, and the sad fact is, it normally does not align. I mean, do you really think that “Dress Down Friday” will drastically improve the well being of a person and make them significantly happier?

The thing with Work-Life Balance is that it’s a two way street. It involves not just the active participation of the company but also the employees. We need to develop ways in which our people will be comfortable to show their true selves. We often get surprised to see that our employees have an “other side”. We say stuff like, ‘Oh I didn’t know he was in to that’, or ‘Oh, wow I never knew that guy had talent’. I’m sure this is all too familiar to us.

Because only half of work life balance is the one we can control, and I mean the ‘work’ environment. Your HR’s goal should be to find a way to close the gap between the person’s ‘life’ environment and ‘work’ environment.Make the employees’ ‘Other Side’, the ‘Only Side’.

One way of doing this is by providing platforms. Platforms can be as simple as general assemblies or social media activities like #throwbackthursday. Platforms serve as bait for them to really express who they are and be comfortable in it. But be reminded not to do big platforms that might defocus them from their responsibilities. It should be simple and quick. This in turn should show the employees’ ‘other sides’. And, once you get them in the habit of showing their ‘other side’ it will be easier for HR to know the people deeper and identify and enhance the collective culture of your people. Sometimes it’s a hit and miss but most of the time, when you figure out what makes them tick, your success can even affect the company’s bottom line.

One more thing: small things matter. With the smallest investment of time and effort in the right places, you can radically transform and engage your people. And this has to be consistently done.