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    Winter-2016  


Incentives & Rewards in the 21st Century: What Melts Your Employees’ Butter?

Identifying the best approaches to managing and rewarding employees is a never ending chore. 

The focus of monitoring and assessing workplace performance should be undoubtedly be placed on setting attainable and collaborative goals, making collective decisions, and being able to tackle and solve problems within one’s own relative sphere of responsibility and authority along with one’s colleagues.       

Yes, while workplace performance is frequently monitored (as perhaps some believe it should be), there’s no reason why appraisals shouldn’t focus on the positives and be a catalyst to cooperation and communications. The butter will start to soften up a bit.   

Understanding UMPs: Increasing the value of people, and truly understanding why people show up to work, and why they stay, is just as important as why they leave. 

The tricky part, however, is that not everyone is motivated by the same things. One very important item to realize about motivation itself, is that it is an incredibly individual expression.   

Figuring it out might prove to be quite the challenge in larger organizations, but probing and prodding for what melts your employee’s butter—their unique motivational profile (“UMP”)—is just an expense that is certainly worth spending. 

It goes hand in hand... both employers and co-workers need to be willing to understand and pay attention to the profile of the individual, which is why listening is a vital   component of maintaining goal and action-orientated motivation. Communication itself is crucial, and practically nonexistent without listening. Along with the ability of employers and employees to actually listen and comprehend what the other has to say, comes the increasing potential to recognize, encourage, and motivate. 

That being said, do you really understand your own employees? 

Melting the Butter:   People are inclined to leave their job because they: don’t like their boss or co-workers, they don’t have the tools to be productive and move forward, and/or they’re working in a toxic environment.   

People in the workplace can be motivated by a myriad of things. Yes, some of these things might be ‘extrinsic’ motivators.  In fact, to this day, some of them are very basic even in late 2012. Having (and keeping) a job that can pay the bills ranks noticeably high in everyone’s profile.  

Money is notoriously viewed as a motivator.  But it’s surely not the only thing that gets you out of your flannel PJs, into your car, and onto your rollie-chair inside your cubicle.  

Compensation is an extrinsic motivator, and one of the best at that. The anticipation that rests in such satisfaction through rewards processes (i.e. paychecks and raises and the occasional bonus) is enough to coax employees to tackle mundane tasks and things they really could care less about. 

But obviously, if money were the only motivating factor in existence, it wouldn’t take very long for people to become exhausted with those tedious tasks, and risk leaving their secure occupation for something better, or for potentially more money.   

A large portion of motivators in the 21st century just so happen to be ‘intrinsic’ motivators, which most certainly include: the excitement that one’s work brings them, engaging projects, the interesting environments in which people work, the captivating people whom which they work with, the work-life balance that one’s job allows them to have, not to mention the ongoing search for meaning and purpose within their life and passion for their work.   

This is due, in large part, to both the newness to the workforce of the Millennials – the youngsters with high ideals – as well as the fatigued experience of the Boomers – the older folks that were supposed to be gone by now who now feel stuck in their jobs.   Money, while important, is just not what it used to be.  

What’s In It For Me:  For every ten articles you read on compensation five will say money is key and five will say lifestyle, workplace accommodations, etc. are key. Here is the scoop—the one with the cherry on top. In a workplace populated today with 18-80 year olds, they all expect both.   

Above all, there are no “best” practices that can apply across the board to all organizations and all people in a highly diverse and divergent world of cultures, values and opinions. There are a plethora of tools to use; your job is to find the right mix for your people.  

People want it all, and in the 21st century they are tuned into WII-FM (What’s In it For Me). Thus, if you can tap into and listen to the music they enjoy, determine their UMP, then you can put together the right mix of incentives, rewards and motivation to melt their butter.   

Jim Finkelstein is the President and CEO of FutureSense, Inc.., a management consulting firm specializing in people and organizations (www.futuresense.com).  Melissa Mead is the Social Media Coordinator for FutureSense.  

 


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