I like getting paid. Who doesn’t? If my employer ran out of money tomorrow, I’d be looking for a new job fast. Yet basic salary isn’t what motivates me to work harder. My regular salary is like getting a C on a report card. It says, “You did your work. It was was we agreed upon. It was satisfactory.” In order to feel satisfied in my work I need to feel appreciated and valued. I need more than a C.
Employees who feel valued are more likely to stay long term with an organization. A basic paycheck does little to motivate people to go the extra mile. A little positive feedback motivates people and reduces attrition rates. Most of these ideas have little financial cost and yet companies have the potential to save a lot of money by not having to hire and train new people, having workers who consistently work harder and who are loyal to the organization.
Here are a number of different currencies.
This is basic pay. It’s my agreed upon wage. It’s very motivating in terms of keeping my job but doesn’t go much beyond that. It absolutely needs to be there for most people. If you work in non-profit, you may have a number of volunteers. It’s especially important to pay your volunteers with a different kind of currency if you have any hope of keeping them long term.
A financial bonus can be tied to company profit or individual effort. It’s a monetary bonus on top of a regular salary. Sadly, regular yearly expected bonuses become much like regular salary. Unexpected bonuses or bonuses that individuals can work towards can be a great way to increase morale and motivate employees.
A token bonus is a small gift that recognizes an employee’s effort. This might be a gift certificate, a book or in the case of RIM employees, tickets to a U2 concert! It doesn’t have to cost much but recognizes effort in a tangible way. I know of one large company whose employees make signifiant salaries. Yet the weekly meeting where one outstanding employee receives a $20 gift certificate to a local restaurant, has been a huge motivating force.
Public Verbal Recognition
Public verbal recognition occurs when a supervisor publicly recognizes employees. It may be in front of one or two other employees or in a larger group meeting. This is the one that is farthest from what motivates me. I have a supervisor who does this regularly and I’m often embarrassed to be publicly recognized. I don’t like being the centre of attention. For others, receiving public recognition is key to feeling valued.
Private / Written Recognition
I confess. This one is my currency. During an interview when an employer brings up remuneration, I’m often tempted to hold up a sign that reads, “Will work for appreciation.” All it takes is a one line e-mail that says, “Well done”, “Good job on the presentation”, “Keep up the good work”, and I’m good to go for months. I thrive under authentic feedback.
Positive Formal Review
For some, receiving a positive formal review makes all the difference. It’s a formal tangible document that becomes part of that person’s employment history. It shows quantifiable areas of success and growth.
As an employer, it’s important to figure out what it is that motivates your employees and helps them to feel valued and appreciated. One of the best methods is to try them all and see what works. Don’t be surprised when different people are motivated by different currencies.
People are discouraged in these difficult economic times. I’ve heard from many recently that morale is low in their organization. Remunerating people in their currency is a great way to increase morale and encourage employees. It doesn’t have to cost a lot but the dividends are priceless.
What’s your currency?
Kathryn works in public relations and training for a non profit. In her off hours, she volunteers as a financial coach helping ordinary Canadians with the basics of money management. Her passions include personal finance and adult education. Kathryn, along with her husband and two children live in Ontario.