Tag Archives: employee motivation

Fewer Employers Offering Finance Education: Are You?

The Society for Human Resource Management recently conducted a survey of HR professionals and found a 12 percent decrease in the number of employers who offer their employees financial education. Other portions of the survey covered personal financial challenges and how these challenges affect the workers and their job performance. Data for this survey was gathered from December 2011 through January 2012 and the results are available on the SHRM website

Survey Results
Employees responses to the survey indicated that employees were engaging in some surprising money habits that might not necessarily be in their long-term best interests. For instance:

  • When asked if employees have taken out money from their retirement savings plan more in the last year than in previous years, 17 percent – strongly agreed and 55 percent agreed. This reflects a large number of employees turning to retirement funds to meet current expenses- a move that can have significant tax and other long-term consequences. 
  • Overall lack of monetary funds was the biggest concern of  49 percent of employees, while medical expenses were the main worry for 35 percent of survey respondents. 
  • 22 percent of employees responding to the survey reported that their financial challenges were having a large impact on their work. 61 percent reported at least some impact on their work as a result of financial stressors. 
  • 47 percent of responding employees reported having difficulty focusing on their jobs as a result of their financial concerns. 
This survey shows that financial challenges do have an impact on an employee’s job performance, morale, health, and relationships with other employees.  Yet, despite the financial struggles faced by employees, only 52 percent of employers offered financial education in 2011, down from 64 percent in 2009. 

Managers and HR personnel need to be aware of the financial struggles of their employees during these current hard economic times. Perhaps financial education should be offered by more employers rather than less. By helping employees deal with their financial problems, employers will see happier workers and better productivity.

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A Game Plan For Coaching Employees

Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said “Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate”. Motivating employees takes more than doing annual employee reviews and telling them how they can do better. Increasing employee performance goes beyond giving general guidelines on how to increase productivity. Coaching employees to do better takes a progressive collaborative approach where both parties benefit.

An article by Entrpreneur magazine provides 7 steps for coaching employees.  These steps are meant to develop employee potential through continued support and guidance.

1. Build A Relationship Of Mutual Trust

2. Open the meeting. Explain clearly the purpose of meeting.

3. Develop Agreement

4. Explore Alternatives

5. Get A commitmtnet from the employee to act

6. Handle excuses through understanding and support

7. Provide feedback

Training vs Coaching

Employee coaching can be confused with employee training. Training involves instruction on  the knowledge and skills they need to perform their job tasks through classroom instruction and on the job training.  Employee coaching is a continual process of assisting employees to identify and overcome barriers that prevent them from doing the best at their jobs. It involves more one on one interaction to help them identify solutions to improving performance. Coaching is more intensive and individualized based each employees skills.

The key to coaching involves asking the employee and prompting the employee to think. It involves identifying strengths and areas that need improvement. The goal is for employees to grow and develop into a better worker. Each employee is different and require varied levels of time and commitment.

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Want to be an Innovator? Use These Innovative Hiring Practices

According to an October 6 article in CNN Money, a new book by Stephen Shapiro indicates that you may be going about hiring employees in the wrong way. CNN Money’s article on Shapiro suggests that most companies hire people because they believe those new employees will be a good fit with existing corporate culture and, once hired, most companies reward employees for a job well done. Ironically, however, Shapiro is suggesting that these common business practices may actually be stopping your company from innovating.

Innovation and Iconoclasts

Shapiro, an advisor on innovation to major companies including Staples and GE, as well as an advisor to the U.S. Air Force, recently published his advice on encouraging creativity and new thinking in a book called Best Practices are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out Innovate the Competition.

According to CNN Money, one of the top pieces of advice in his book is to carefully hire people who don’t fit your current corporate mold and even, surprisingly enough, to hire people you don’t like. Shapiro believes this is important because all too often companies don’t get any useful information when asking for new ideas, and because coming up with actual innovations is dependent upon divergent viewpoints.

Contests and Recognition

Another tip from Shapiro that may run counter to what you believe is common sense: he advises against recognizing people for doing the jobs they were hired to do. This, he believes, sets up a corporate culture where people simply do the status quo and nothing more.

Finally, Shapiro also cautions against trying to encourage creativity by creating contests offering a prize to the employee who comes up with the best new idea. The problem with this, he indicates, is that assumes there will be a good idea.

This doesn’t mean he doesn’t think you should reward innovation… you just have to do it the right way. To do that, he points to Netflix, who offered a $1 million prize to anyone who could solve a specific problem they had regarding user reviews/ recommendations. Seven years later, that $1 million prize was awarded to Canadian mathematicians who created an algorithm that made tens of millions of dollars for Netflix.

The Takeaway

While your company may not have a million dollar bounty prize to offer to innovators, there’s still plenty to learn from Shapiro’s advice. The biggest lesson is, if you want your company to be different, you have to think different. This means both hiring people who don’t fit the classic mold of your corporate culture and also stepping outside of your comfortable policies and practices to find employees and reward them in different ways.

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Are Your Employers Satisfied? Studies Suggest They Aren’t

While a great deal of negative attention is associated with wage freeze and many workers complain about a lack of career advancement, low wages may not be the biggest cause of discontent among employees. In fact, a recent studyindicates that the reason employees are looking for new jobs has nothing to do with the fact that they aren’t being paid enough; it’s because they feel under appreciated.

The Survey


In September of 2011, an HR software company called Globoforce conducted a survey of 630 people over the age of 18 who were currently employed. The study found 38 percent of people are trying to actively find another job, mostly due to feeling management doesn’t recognize and appreciate their hard work. In addition, 39 percent of employees stated they do not feel appreciated at the moment, and 52 percent feel their work is not recognized by their employer.

Of those surveyed only 24 percent were happy with the level of recognition they were given at work, and 63 percent of those were not interested in other employment. The number of people who said being given acknowledgment would make them want to work harder was 78 percent, while 69 percent said they would be inclined to work more if their efforts were recognized.

The Takeaway


Often wages are the first thought when trying to make someone happy in their profession, yet money isn’t the only way to let someone know they’re doing an excellent job. In fact, the problem with offering financial or other external rewards or punishments is that these types of rewards are considered external motivators.

When a person is motivated by external items such as money or fear of being fired, the motivation can fade when the money isn’t enough, or the person is no longer worried about job security. In other words, the external motivators are temporary. Internal motivation, on the other hand, can be more lasting. Having employees who are motivated by internal motivation is optimal for employers, as these types of employees work because they care about their jobs and they often work harder and stay longer in their positions because of it. 

Creating internal motivation involves creating an atmosphere where employees work hard and do their best because it’s what they want to do.  So, how do you help create this and make sure employees find fulfillment in their jobs?

 

  • Offering consistent praise and recognizing hard work verbally is one way in which to build a positive and healthy atmosphere. It goes back to the golden rule of “treat others the way you wish to be treated,” which is ideally in a fair and respectable manner.
  • You can also aid in individual and team goal setting. Building a team atmosphere in the company makes people happier to come to work. You can, for example, celebrate team successes with an office lunch party. 
  • Finally, know your employees strengths and abilities, and allow them to be used when needed. This helps people feel appreciated and recognized.

By following these simple tips to increase employee motivation, you can keep employees for longer and have a happier, harder working staff.  

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Are Your Employees Engaged?

Employee engagement is an issue of great importance in the HR field. In fact, according to a recent Healthx white paper, the vast majority of organizations today consider employee engagement to be the top priority among their HR goals.  While employee engagement is an important aim, the Seattle Post Intelligence blog indicates that a recent Gallup survey found only 33 percent of employees were fully engaged, while a full 18 percent identified themselves as actively disengaged from their work.

The Importance of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is defined as the level of interest and enthusiasm workers have for their jobs. The more engaged an employee is, the more excited he or she is about the job he is performing. Employees who are neither engaged nor disengaged, on the other hand, aren’t connected to their workplaces and aren’t likely to go the extra mile. Finally, employees who are disengaged are disconnected from their jobs and put both their own physical health and the ongoing success of workplace or team projects at risk.

As one might expect, companies with a greater percentage of engaged employees tend to be more profitable than companies with a lower number of engaged workers. Further, companies with engaged employees have higher retention rates (which means less money spent recruiting and training) and can have a better image with customers.

How to Increase Engagement

While employee engagement may be a top goal, you have to actively take steps to increase engagement if you want to achieve it. Engaging employees should be done on an organization-wide basis, and managers are essential in making sure employees remain engaged. Managers can work to increase employee engagement by:

  • Clarifying their expectations
  • Making sure employees have the resources they need to do their jobs
  • Helping employees to develop themselves professionally
  • Making sure employees connect to the company’s mission and purpose
  • Offering regular progress reports, rather than simply annual reviews.

 

When these and other efforts are instituted to help employees become passionate about their work, the efforts can pay dividends for your company. According to Gallup data, in world-class organizations, the ratio of engaged workers to disengaged employees is 10:1 while the ratio in average organizations is closer to 2:1. Increasing employee engagement is thus one of the best ways to help yourself stand apart from the crowd and to make the most of your human resources.

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Are Your Workers Stretched Too Thin?

A recent pole of UK workers indicated that many employees believe they are being stretched too thin. The reports from over-taxed workers are likely not an exaggeration either, as Randstad, the research firm who performed the survey, indicated that 23 percent of workers admitted their workforce was operating at full stretch. Yet, while employees are being asked to work harder and do more than ever before, pay freezes and wage freezes also limit the potential gain for putting forth a dedicated effort.

Productivity and Pay Freezes

The combination of many employees being asked to be more productive than ever before occurring at the same time as wage freezes is a situation that naturally leads to dissatisfaction. According to the Randstad study, one out of ten workers surveyed indicated they were seeking a new job to escape the “grind” of their old one. Another 36 percent said they would take the first new employment opportunity they were offered as long as it didn’t mean a cut in salary and benefits.

With many employers listing “increase productivity” as a top HR goal, this problem could become worse before it gets better. Many employers cannot afford to hire new workers due to the lingering effects of the economic downturn. Still others don’t want to hire new employees because of ongoing uncertainty. Yet, these businesses may still wish to pursue opportunities for change and growth- and the onus of responsibility for this growth is likely to fall on existing employees who will be asked to do ever more.

How to Boost Employee Morale

If you find your company in a situation where you are asking employees to increase productivity while at the same time freezing their wages, it is important to tread carefully so as not to lose your staff- especially if you operate in an area where there are talent shortages.

There are a number of different recognized means of boosting employee morale that can help keep your employees happy, including providing them with increased education about the benefits they do have. Making sure there is clear and solid leadership in place- without micromanaging- is another good motivating tactic as is making sure that individual employees both have enough meaningful work and are recognized for their efforts.

When you ask a lot of your employees, it is important to give back in whatever way you can and when you can’t use raises or bonuses as a tool, recognition and making employees feel their jobs matter are both keys to keeping your workers happy.

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Motivating Employees Through Benefits Education

Today, nearly one in four employees is experiencing a wage freeze and as many as 30 percent of employees work in a company that is laying off employees. With so many employees experiencing turmoil at their workplaces, it is no wonder that employee satisfaction is well below 2008 levels. In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, a 2010 survey conducted by Unum found that only 63 percent of employees felt that their employers valued their work, as compared to 70 percent of employees in 2008. Further, only 56 percent of employees felt that their employers cared about their well-being, as compared with 63 percent of employees in 2008. These survey results are troubling because most theories of motivation indicate that low employee morale can reduce motivation and productivity. 

Employee Motivation and Morale

Employee motivation has become more important than ever before, especially since the majority of Generation X workers indicate that finding meaningful work is a top priority. With an increasing competition for talent in certain fields and with many baby boomers retiring or scheduled to retire over the next several years, more and more employers are turning to various theories of motivation to try to capture, keep and encourage talented employees.

The vast majority of motivational theories show a direct correlation between motivation and a feeling of being valued. For instance, Maslow has outlined a hierarchy of needs, with basic needs like food and shelter at the bottom and self actualization at the top. Self actualization involves the fulfillment of one’s potential and typically requires the opportunity to be creative and to feel as if one is doing something meaningful.

Likewise, Herzberg has outlined a two-factor theory of motivation. Under this theory, dissatisfaction can be avoided if basic hygiene factors are present (such as safe working conditions), however, avoiding dissatisfaction doesn’t equate to happiness or fulfillment. Fulfillment requires motivating factors, rather than just the absence of dissatisfaction. In other words, both Herzberg and Maslow see a connection between employee satisfaction or morale and the motivation of an employee. 

Increasing Employee Morale

As an employer, you may recognzie the importance of employee motivation but it may seem as though boosting morale is impossible or improbable, especially if you do have to institute wage freezers or lay off employees. Fortunately, Bill Dalicandro, vice president of Ulum, indicates that there is a simple and easy way to boost employee morale: benefits education.  

Survey responses indicated just how big of an impact benefits education can have, with 80 percent of employees who rated their benefits education highly also indicating that their employer was an excellent employer and that their job was a good place to work. By contrast, only 31 percent of employees who reported receiving poor benefits education also indicated that their employer was a good one. Further, a full 77 percent of employees who reported receiving good benefits education indicated that they would remain at their job, even if offered a comparable job elsewhere. 

Benefits education can clearly have a major impact on employee satisfaction and, by extension, employee morale and motivation. Providing question and answer sessions, printed benefit information, information sessions or online information about benefits can be an inexpensive and simple way to change the way your employees view your company and these small efforts can pay dividends. 

 

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