By: Connie Blaszczyk, Managing Editor, Monster Resource Center
It’s a variation of the chicken and egg question. Which came first -- disgruntled employees -- or the recession?
Worker dissatisfaction likely goes back a while. Imagine the Medieval grunt assigned to sharpen the king’s quills.
Fast forward a millennium and we’re still trying to figure out how to cultivate employee engagement.
The current recession certainly hasn’t helped. Ongoing layoffs, long hours (often for less pay) and stressful work environments have all taken a deep and significant toll on the American worker’s psyche.
The question then becomes, what can be done to repair the damaged relationship between employees and employers?
The answers are found in both the latest research and some plain old common sense.
How to Keep Race Horses Running
Salespeople -- those race horses of the business world -- are always racing to the finish line, while their employers are always looking for the big win. Central to this equation is keeping top sales performers satisfied and motivated. Yet it turns out that money isn’t the sole component of sales motivation.
A recent study conducted by Tower Watson and Staffing Industry Analysts revealed the best practices followed by successful high-growth staffing firms that effectively retain top performers.
Sponsored by Monster, the 2012 Staffing Industry Sales Force Effectiveness Survey points out the importance of a clearly-defined “employee value proposition” at high-growth staffing firms that extends beyond pay and benefits to career pathing for sales employees.
This “deal” between employer and employee includes non-management career paths for top sales performers.
Additionally, survey respondents from all segments gave high ranks to the visibility of their internal talent pool. “The importance of creating a talent pipeline and understanding the talent inside their organizations and teams was clear,” says Matthew O’Connor, Sr. Vice President, Monster.
Managing Entrepreneurial-Minded Millenials
Speaking of horses, what happens when your newly-hired Philly (a Gen Y employee who you really like) decides after three months on the job that they’re ready for a promotion -- now.
Author Emily Bennington recounts this real-life scenario in her recent article, How to Manage Entrepreneurial-Minded Employees. She recalls the exact words of her new employee, who was hired on a two-year promotion track: “Two years is like a decade to me.”
Bennington’s advice for managers is to carefully listen to the employee’s argument. Then formulate a list of ten or so meaningful tasks for them to complete that will prove their worth. Check in as tasks on the list are completed.
Once the list is tackled (assuming that the employee completes them all) the manager will come away with a much clearer sense of the employee’s problem-solving capabilities and overall attitude -- as well as their overall worth.
Workplace Motivation: Nurture, Praise, Repeat
Employers often ask, ‘How do I get employees to do more than I’m asking?
In response, author Roberta Matuson notes in her article on motivation in the workplace, “It’s no secret that people are more apt to go the extra mile when they feel motivated.”
While that may seem obvious, the devil is always in the details.
Matuson offers suggestions that keep employees motivated and productive, even in ‘flat’ organizations that are unable to provide new job titles and upward mobility.
- Recognize that achievement is defined differently for everyone. For example, in your world as business owner, being a global player in your marketplace may be your definition of achievement; in your employee’s world, being trusted to develop a marketing campaign is a sign that they’ve arrived.
- At least once a year, as part of your employee performance reviews, take the time to ask your employees what they’d like to achieve in the coming year. Don’t forget to review all they’ve accomplished while in your employ.
- Involving employees in business decisions early on is a motivation technique that works in any situation. When people are involved in decisions, they feel a sense of ownership, which is something that is highly valued by those who run small businesses. They will do whatever it takes to see a project through successful completion.
Finally, Matuson recommends employees with workplace flexibility. This will nearly guarantee that most employees will rise to the occasion when you are in a pinch.
These techniques are proof that a bit of motivation, whether through career planning, recognition or engagement, can go a long way toward energizing workers. And that’s a win-win for everyone.
Copyright 2012 -- Monster Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy, reproduce or distribute this article without the prior written permission of Monster Worldwide.