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Employee Motivation: It’s Not (Always) About Money

For far too long many employers have subscribed to the popular notion that if we pay our employees enough, they’ll produce the outcomes we’re asking for. While this might have rung true at certain points during the last century, this thought process is long outdated. Recent research suggests that the happier the employees, the more likely they are to produce.

Last year economists at the University of Warwick found that “human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity.” Specifically, study data showed that employee happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved to be 10% less productive. This research was supported earlier this year by the Blackhawk Engagement Solutions’ Survey of Employed Americans which also concluded that happy employees are more productive than unhappy employees.

According to the Warwick study, companies that invest in employee support and satisfaction tend to succeed in generating happier workers. This suggests that compensation and financial awards are not enough. The Blackhawk study reported that employee rewards and recognition programs may not be aligned with what actually makes employees happy and more productive.

Emp_BenefitsEnough about the research. What it boils down to is this: A great compensation and benefits package is only the beginning. So, if it’s not money that makes employees happy, then what will it take?

According to experts, a great place to start is to ensure that employees clearly understand your organization’s vision and goals. Experts suggest that aligning rewards and recognition with company strategy can lead to happier employees.

Next, be sure that employees have what they want and need to get the job done. Don’t assume that they are already equipped with all of the tools needed to succeed. Ask them about their jobs, the training they received, the support they receive from superiors and what tools they would like to use. Ask for input, and do it personally if possible.

As in most workplace issues, communication is key. Communicate regularly and be sure to tie your vision and goals into workplace happenings so that employees can see the larger picture. If they know how their positions tie into the larger goal, they are more likely to feel a sense of purpose and belonging.

Every business should have a way of recognizing employees and rewarding them for their hard work. In terms of keeping your employees happy, money isn’t everything. But it helps. While every job well done can’t be rewarded with a promotion or bonus, small financial incentives, such as gift cards, are effective motivators.

Lastly, it is important to note that employee happiness does depend a lot on intangibles: a feeling of belonging to the work team and feeling valued and appreciated consistently outrank money when employees are polled about job satisfaction.

Are you doing something creative or innovative to get the most out of your employees? If so, we’d love to hear from you- leave a comment below.

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