- Working Condition
- Interesting Work
- Loyalty (from the employer)
- Flexible Working Arrangements
- Job Security
If you ranked money as the primary motivator for your employees, you would be wrong. Employees must be paid at least the relevant award wage for the work they do, but many other factors motivate employees to be productive and stay with an employer.
Recent studies in what motivates employees suggest that "open communication" was ranked highest by respondents who were asked to list the items they considered very important in choosing their current jobs. Salary was ranked 16th.
Another study of 1,500 employees found that instant recognition from managers was the most powerful motivator of the potential incentives evaluated. Second was a letter written by their employer/supervisor which praised a good job.
Motivating employees does not always have to involve financial rewards – an employer who recognises the good work done by his or her employees will have a motivated, productive workforce.
Why are expectations changing?
Gone are the days of a job for life. Ongoing employment is becoming increasingly dependent on an employee being able to add value to a business through on-the-job performance. As a result, employees are adopting the attitude that "if the employer is willing to dump me at his or her convenience, why shouldn't I do the same?"
This movement away from tenure and loyalty is prompting employees to re-evaluate their expectations and priorities at work. Employees are focusing on skill development and taking control of their careers. They are less concerned about where they work and more focused on the quality of the work and the challenges and rewards associated with their efforts.
Employees now expect to be rewarded for successfully applying their skills and making a positive contribution to the performance and profitability of the business. Employers who fail to recognise this changing nature of the workforce run the risk of alienating or losing their workforce – with a damaging impact on profitability.
How do I motivate my employees?
Your greatest challenge is to work with your employees to weave their individual needs and interests, such as career aspirations and individual learning goals, with your business's needs of high performance and results.
Flexible working hours, time off for personal or family responsibilities, and greater decision-making responsibilities may hold more appeal than cash incentives. For example, young workers may value flexibility and personal independence over monetary bonuses.
While such "non-material" incentives may cost less than a raise, they will probably require a greater investment in terms of time and energy from you. However, the benefits are substantial.
Employees will value the fact that their employer recognises their needs and satisfactorily rewards their efforts. In turn, you can significantly increase profitability by retaining experienced, motivated and productive staff.
What sort of methods should I consider?
Retention, rewards and recognition have been identified as the three "R's" of successful staff management. By implementing initiatives based on these key concepts, employers can enhance business performance and enjoy the benefits to be gained from a motivated and productive workforce.
How to motivate your staff through consultation
Get together with your employees to identify appropriate methods. This might be a regular part of your staff meetings for a few weeks or part of your business planning activities with staff. You may want to discuss the following topics:
- Training and development
- Social interaction
- Work environment
- Remuneration and benefits
Some initiatives other small businesses have introduced include:
- Appraisal feedback through individual training development programs
- Tuition assistance policy, which provides a grant plus text book allowance to employees undertaking work-related studies
- Personality profiles to identify specific training needs
- Evening social functions, particularly dinners to celebrate achieving and exceeding targets
- Closing the office for recreation days to allow the company to say "thank you" with trips to theme parks or staff sports days
- A vision day, where staff from different departments are put into teams to gain a better understanding of the work done in other areas.
See what your employees can come up with!
Applying the three "R's" in your workplace
By adopting strategies to retain, reward and recognise your employees, you can make a positive contribution to overall business performance. These methods may include:
Opportunity for advancement
Replacing the promotion ladder with new roles, stimulating work and other opportunities for individual growth.
Challenging and interesting work
Providing growth opportunities by presenting employees with challenging assignments and providing the necessary tools to successfully complete the assignments.
This no longer means a job for life. Employees will stay with a business despite below-market pay (but not below legal entitlements) if their business maintains a safe, stable work environment and provides additional benefits such as a five-day week or reserved parking.
Respecting your employee's efforts and show them how they add value to the business. Cross-training staff and encouraging them to work more closely with customers can help employees to feel more valued.
Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that employees want to be acknowledged for the job that they do. Motivate staff by taking the time to personally thank an employee for doing something well. Specifically say how and why an employee'' efforts was of value.
Employee recognition is a powerful tool for shaping and reinforcing desired performance – with the advantage of helping both you and your employees feel better in the process!
Employees are crucial to your business. For many small businesses, they are the only investment. For this reason it is essential that you recruit the right people. The following steps will help you successfully plan and manage the recruitment process to ensure you recruit people with the right capabilities for your business.
Step 1 - Identify the needs of your business
a) Consider the needs of the business and how the position fits into your business:
b) what needs to be done in the business?
c) is the need short-term or long-term?
d) how will the position help the business now, and in the future?
This will help you determine if you need someone on a full-time, part-time or casual basis.
Step 2 - Define the job
In defining the job you need to:
a) identify the purpose of the position and what it does
b) understand how the job contributes to the business
c) document elements of the job.
Step 3 - Write a job description
A well-prepared job description describes your expectations of the position. It will guide your selection and also help your new employee understand what is expected of them.
The length of a job description varies depending on the nature and complexity of the job.
A good job description identifies the:
a) position title which clearly reflects the nature of the job
b) main purpose of the position in a sentence (or two), that is, what the person does and why, for example, will they review, monitor, co-ordinate, deliver
c) business context, that is, the objectives of the business, strategies, the operating environment, and the role of the position in the business
d) major accountabilities, which are the three to six major areas of work performed by the position and include important activities undertaken from time to time
e) outcomes to be achieved for each of the identified accountabilities
f) key communications with key positions, organisations, or groups, both inside and outside the business
g) decisions made by the position holder, those made in consultation with the employer/manager and those referred to the employer/manager
h) challenging aspects of the job, including short or long-term challenges, such as, client demands, use of technology, heavy workload, or tight deadlines
i) knowledge, skills and experience, which are essential for the effective or competent performance of the job, including formal qualifications, certification, licence or equivalent experience required
j) resources for which the person is responsible, for example, staff and/or budget
k) tasks/duties performed by the position holder.
Step 4 - Determine your selection criteria
Create a profile of the ideal applicant by considering the personal qualities needed to perform the job successfully. This may include personal attributes such as the ability to work under stress, maintain confidentiality, adaptability and flexibility.
Decide which attributes are essential and which are desirable. Essential criteria are skills and attributes essential to the ability to perform the job, for example, trade qualifications, driver's licence, ability to prepare spreadsheets. Desirable criteria are those skills or attributes which make the candidate a more valuable asset to your business.
The essential criteria are used as the focus in your job advertisement.
Step 5 - Write a job advertisement
To ensure that your job advertisement is effective:
a) write in clear language
b) quote a salary or a salary range to help filter out unwanted responses
c) provide information to help potential applicants decide whether the job is suitable for them
d) use the job description to identify required skills, qualifications, experience and desired attributes
e) don't use too many words
f) include special requirements, for example, driver's licence, trade qualification
g) don't exaggerate the job as this will attract applicants who are not suited to the position.
Step 6 - Prepare for the interview
In preparing for an interview you need to:
a) decide if you would like to hold the interview with a second person
b) decide/agree on a date
c) organise a quiet and comfortable room to hold the interview
d) organise a waiting area for applicants to sit comfortably
e) schedule enough time for each interview so that you are not rushed or interrupted
f) contact applicants to be interviewed with details of their interview
g) provide your receptionist with the names of the applicants and interview times
h) prepare the interview questions
i) organise equipment, for example, computer or machinery, if testing is required
review each applicant's résumé or application before their interview
j) make notes during each interview so that you can refer to them later.
Step 7 - Conduct the interview
Some useful interview tips include:
a) ask one question at a time
b) use short sentences and speak clearly
c) use simple and appropriate words to make the questions easy to understand
d) use open-ended questions which allow applicants to express themselves
e) avoid leading questions which imply the correct answer
f) let the applicant do most of the talking and listen carefully to their responses
g) if answers are vague or inconsistent, probe for more specific and accurate information
h) keep the conversation under control and don't let answers become long-winded
i) ask to see any qualifications, certificates, special licences or other essentials required for the position.
Conduct a reference check. Speak to referees to help you verify information given at the interview, or gather more information about the applicant's performance and behaviour at work.
Step 8 - Make your decision
Make your decision based on an assessment of the information gathered against each of the selection criteria.
Create a short list ranking applicants in order of their suitability for the job. This identifies other possible candidates for the job if the selected candidate declines the job offer.
Step 9 - Make the job offer
While an offer of employment may be made verbally, it should be confirmed in writing. This confirms that an employment relationship exists. The successful applicant should accept your offer by signing a copy of the letter of offer and returning it to you before commencing employment.
Step 10 - What should a letter of offer contain?
The successful applicant should be informed of their terms of employment, including:
a) the job title
b) whether they are engaged on a full-time, part-time or casual basis
c) wages or salary and any other benefits
d) employment conditions
e) commencement date and, if the job is for a fixed term, the finishing date
f) if the employee will be employed on probation, and the duration of the probation period
g) job description and duties
h) their working hours, including meal breaks and rest breaks
i) the name and contact details of the person's supervisor
j) training the employee will receive
k) the career path the employee may expect
l) special terms or conditions of employment, such as dress requirements
m) person to contact when reporting to work.
Step 11 - Probationary employment
Employees may be employed on probation.
A probationary period allows you to assess the employee's performance and personality on the job. You must advise them that they will be on probation and the duration of that probationary period before they commence employment. Set out the details of the probation period in the written employment contract or letter of job offer.
Review the employee's performance during and just prior to the end of the probationary period. Discuss any issues with work performance and behaviour with the employee as they arise. This ensures that they are addressed before they become a problem.
Step 12 - Monitor performance and provide feedback
Monitor and assess the new employee's performance during the first few months of their employment. Provide them with feedback about how they're performing against set performance targets. This ensures that you address any performance deficiencies early and facilitate the employee's integration into the workplace.
Regular performance monitoring and feedback ensures that performance is sustained.
The Industrial Relations Act defines the "contract of employment" as;