So where does real Employee Motivation come from?

Posted by on February 11, 2010 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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As a “motivational” speaker in the eyes of some people and clients, I’m often asked where real employee motivation comes from. It has always been my opinion that companies falsely believe motivation comes from employees’ back pocket – in other words the money they take home at the end of the month.


I know, however that almost every employee I talk with complains that there is always too much month at the end of the salary. If that is the case around the world, why are these people still working for the same company that does not pay them “enough”?


During 2009, at the height of the global economic crunch and recession, I found a study that showed that a competitive salary ranks 2nd on the list of employee requirements. But at the same time, another global study was being undertaken – the findings of which appear to contradict this!


According to a study reported in a recent paper of the McKinsey Quarterly, companies around the world, and across all industries may need to re-think the entire concept of employee motivation.


The survey, conducted in June 2009 acquired responses from 1047 executives, managers and employees around the world. More than a quarter of the respondents were directors or CEOs.


Respondents to the survey reported on the effectiveness of financial incentives. Below are the results – the percentages being those regarding the incentive as being ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ effective:

·         Performance based cash bonuses – 60%

·         Increase in base pay – 52%

·         Stock or stock options – 35%


Now, here’s the interesting bit. The survey also acquired views on the effectiveness of non-financial incentives, uncovering results that could only be described as fascinating:

·         Praise and commendation from immediate manager – 67%

·         Attention from leaders – 63%

·         Opportunities to lead projects or task forces – 62%


In organisations and industries that become driven by financial incentives, it’s easy to lose sight of the non-financial incentives that motivate people. These results show that people are motivated by positive feedback from their immediate manager, leadership attention (through for example, one-on-one conversations with leaders) and project leadership opportunities.


These are the very things that often get overlooked in organisations that believe money motivates people.


This study reinforces findings from a variety of other studies that have concluded that for people with satisfactory salaries, non-financial incentives are deep motivators that can engage top performers. Something worth considering….

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