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Business leaders and talent management professionals face the challenges of retaining the employees, as well as competition among the rival companies to hire the best talent in the labour market. There is a need for businesses to improve their retention strategies by examining how the top executives and managers develop, engage, and relate with the current workforce. Secondly, companies need to focus on front line managers or department heads, since they have the most direct impact on employees and their performance. Frontline managers are the most important leaders in any organization as they interconnect with employees most and, therefore, have the greatest ability to influence an organization’s employee retention, as well as the engagement and development efforts. Regardless of the size of the company, hardworking and motivated employees are the key to business success. When employees lose their motivation, their productivity and creativity decline, and they become less valuable to the organization. Employee motivation is fundamental to ensuring an organization’s success based on its optimal and suboptimal strategies.
Motivation in an organization is founded on the effect manager-employee interactions have on not only performance but also employees’ engagement and productivity levels. Workplace serves as an unwritten social agreement between an employer and his employees (Cherian & Jacob, 2013). An employer needs to understand what motivates his employees to develop motivation strategies that improve employee engagement in the workplace. There are two different outlooks for assessing workplace motivation, including suboptimal and optimal motivation.
Optimal Motivation Outlook
Optimal motivation outlook has proven a positive correlation between work intentions and employees. Consequently, such employees have higher discretionary work efforts and perform at peak of their capacity. They often describe their work environment as a great place to work and often stay in the organization for a long time, since they are productive and happy employees. Optimal motivation requires a manager to trust an employee, rely on his expertise and competence, and give him a degree of autonomy. Managers accomplish this by taking a personalized approach to communication, employee relation, and engagement efforts.
Regular and Consistent Communication
Managers and their staff must maintain regular and consistent communication depending on the business targets, type of work, and pre-existing employee-employer relationships. A manager needs to find time to interact with the employees, since it is very important for him to be seen by the team. Moreover, it makes it easier for him to build work and personal relations with the workers. In addition, as managers participate in daily activities with employees, they can listen and understand the issues their juniors face (Gkorezis & Petridou, 2012). The close form of communication removes communication barriers and strengthens the employee-employer relationship.
Orientation of New Employees
It is crucial that a manager builds a solid basis for the workers so that they could feel themselves a part of the company. A manager should tell new employees about the history and vision for the future of the organization as opposed to letting them start doing their work at once. It is the obligation of the organizational manager to ensure that recruits receive a thorough orientation course. Employees should be encouraged to discuss their career goals and expectations with the managers so that they could feel they are important for the organization. A sense of ownership on the employees’ part increases their level of engagement in their present work.
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Alignment of Employees with Right Tasks
Managers ought to take a personalized approach in framing projects that align with the individual's values, competence, and expertise with their future. Employees look forward to growing within the company, and they are constantly looking for opportunities that propel personal and career growth. When employees are excited about scheduled tasks and projects, they become more engaged and productive in their present work (Qureshi & Syed, 2014). A manager that matches tasks to individual talents improves employee’s confidence as the employee will enjoy working on tasks that he is good at performing. Once the employee performs well, he has trust and excitement to handle other projects and tasks.
Positive Work Environment
Top managers and executives should treat all the employees fairly to create a work environment where employees can approach them to discuss any concerns. A friendly office atmosphere that makes all people feel valuable and worthwhile is necessary, since it gives employees a sense of belonging. Happy employees do not engage in conflicts, which tend to waste time, energy, and productivity of the employees and the organization. Occasionally, the company needs to engage in team building activities, such as company sports events or rewards in the form of early closing time on Fridays, and unexpected day off.
Companies should invest in Human Resource efforts by facilitating and providing the job training or in-house career development programs to improve employees' professional skills. Management should regularly organize seminars and workshops on matters related to the industry. Employees need to be encouraged to attend education classes, masters programs on company’s full or half scholarships (Hammermann & Mohnen, 2014). These training and teaching efforts are a sign that the managers are investing in the employees, and it positively impacts the job performance. On-site coaching helps employees who are progressing to another professional level. Companies should have professionals that offer counselling sessions, which enable an employee to overcome personal and professional hurdles in one's career building.
Acknowledgment of Individual Contributions
A manager should not ignore the fact that team members may deliver exceptional results for a project or their workstations. An employee's morale is raised when a manager takes the time to recognize and appreciate accomplishments and contributions of each worker. High confidence helps improve individual, as well as company’s productivity. A manager can also establish the “employee of the month” awards as a motivator for them.
Suboptimal Motivation Outlook
Suboptimal motivation outlook refers to such pressures as threats or incentives that may encourage right behaviour for wrong reasons. Fear and motivation may be viewed as different aspects of the same issue, as having fear in the workplace environment may diminish your motivation and reduce work output quality. Suboptimal motivation techniques produce positive results in the short perspective but in the end, these methods make a worker alienated and disinterested.
Fear motivation entails the manager indicating the consequences or punishments caused by failure of an employee to follow instructions or behaviours. Workers are often subjected to the reward and punishment system wherein they are given incentives in case they meet a target or punished when they disobey company policy (Kim et al., 2015).
Employees receive rewards for meeting targets, deadlines, and set goals. Monetary rewards act as motivators. However, while achievement goal is focused only on the goal, financial motivation is driven by the fact the employees receive benefits when they achieve a goal. Different incentives are rewarded to employees based on team, individual or organizational performance (Sandhya & Kumar, 2011). These incentives can be represented in the form of raises, commission payments, stock options, and bonuses and they are determined and implemented by managers.
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Employee Equity Incentive
Employee equity incentives provide benefits to both the employer and the employee. When the employee is rewarded for work, his performance improves, which helps the company grow and develop. A motivated workforce is the most valuable asset of a firm. When a firm offers equity to its employees, it aligns employee's interest with that of the company. Employees who have the option to purchase company shares are motivated to do all possible to help the business grow in value.
Offering equity or option to own shares is important for start-ups with limited funding and budget as employees are not able to obtain benefits for a long time. This form of ownership allows a company to reduce salary in exchange for future returns, which means to conserve cash in the interim. Equity provides a strong incentive for talented workers to join and remain in the company, especially when the company has a tight budget (Stumpf et al., 2013). Employees with stock options have to stay in a company for a certain period, which reduces the employee turnover ratio and helps save the company time and money that is resourceful for scouting and training new hires.
On the other hand, equity incentives plans are often complex in nature, and they often conflict with the decision of most growing firms to keep operations simple. A complicated investment plan can do more harm than good to the company. Many employees prefer cash upfront in the form of salaries as opposed to owning equity due to the uncertainty in growth patterns of the enterprise. Offering an equity stake to employees reduces the control over which the company was founded, and managers with equity stake have a right to vote in the company's decision-making process. Nevertheless, businesses should avoid giving too many stock options, especially if people who want to remain autonomous own them. Before a business owner offers its employees equity as an option of incentivizing his workforce, it is important for him to consult with a business attorney to help weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using stock options as a motivation technique (Parikh & Gupta, 2010: p 125).
A manager regularly faces challenges in motivating a team to be productive and hardworking. However, the manager uses bonus schemes to motivate employees and increase their productivity. For example, if a manager supplies bonuses every six months, employees are motivated to work towards achieving goals as the bonus period approaches. Employees who receive regular bonuses feel more appreciate that those who do not (Springer, 2011). However, bonus payments should be dependent on the individual's achievements within a specified period.
Bonus payments may be little when distributed among the team, but it can cost the company much money regardless of whether rewards are supplied quarterly or annually. Smaller companies may benefit using gift cards instead of cash bonuses. At the same time, the amount of money offered to employees is different due to the various levels of performance among them. However, when some employees learn that their colleagues receive more bonuses than others, tensions and jealousy arises within the organization. In such case, strife within the workforce may act as a disincentive rather than as a motivator.
A group incentive is the most efficient motivator, and it encourages healthy competition between teams in an organization. When teams of employees receive incentives based on team performance, it makes other employees work harder, especially if the motivation is compelling enough (Unsworth et al., 2011). The amount of salary or bonuses paid by the company is determined based on the team rather than individual contributions. Group motivation needs to be clearly defined and embraced by the employees so that it influences current performance levels and overall productivity.
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Team-based incentive pay plans are aimed at motivating teams to work together towards a common goal. In the process, employees encourage each other, brainstorm, and support team members' efforts. Group incentive plans also maximize the potential use of individual staff talents, knowledge, and experience to reach peak potential. When employees work together as a team and rely on each other skills and expertise for group compensation, they learn to work together as a team, and an employee has a higher chance of being more effective than on his/her own, if he/she relies on personal contribution. A spirit of teamwork creates greater unity of the workforce and encourages company's longevity and employee loyalty (Jang et al., 2015).
Healthy competition between teams in a company leads to significant achievement levels in-group incentive pay project, especially where earnings are split among employees according to their level of contribution. However, teams need to emphasize equal performance to prevent employees engaging in corrupt to obtain a share of the earnings that they have not worked for (Guo et al., 2014). Team members working towards a common goal increase chances of participation from underperforming colleagues so as not to influence negatively the other team members. Low achieving employees are encouraged to perform their duties and give better results. Attractive group incentives make the employees feel appreciated, and it makes the employees to remain in the organization, even if competitors offer the employees a better salary. When a company pays its employees money based on their performance, such as commissions, it creates a culture where staff teams produce more to earn more. Consequently, by compensating team efforts more by the business owners, higher earnings result in more business profits.
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Theoretically, employees who make the greatest contribution receive the highest rewards. However, in reality, it is harder to quantify some work efforts in comparison to others. If the salesperson is given more incentives, despite the two employing coordinated efforts, feelings of resentment, jealousy, and discord will develop among team members (Nujjoo & Meyer, 2012). Some teams in the organization can feel like victims of unfair treatment in the workplace.
Since every incentive plan has its benefits and drawbacks, mangers should strive for developing incentive programs mix that minimizes disadvantages and maximizes advantages. The business owners need to develop incentive plans that are fair and do not create unwanted behaviours, such as unprofitable sales. Incentive plans should be developed in a manner that encourages teamwork and reduces incidences of cheating or corrupt activity. A good incentive program is the one that creates a direct link between the rewards and employees' actions and performance (Stern & Borcia, 1999). Such link ensures that the employees exercise some level of control over the situation whether they achieve the target or not. The business owners and managers need to use goals that can be measured objectively to determine the productivity of an employee. Every organization should use a mix of both monetary and non-monetary incentives to increase morale and productivity of individuals and teams within an organization.
Motivation Incentives for Different Personality Types
Workplace motivation is based on emotions or feelings that lead employees to act with negative or positive intentions. It means that highly personal and other issues motivate every individual. The key to understanding the best motivation technique for the organization is having an understanding of what drives a person (Vranova, 2012). There are four different types of individual’s personalities in an organization: activist, theorist, pragmatic, and reflector.
An activist is a person who learns by participating in activities. They practice an open-minded approach and involve themselves in new activities without bias. They enjoy activities that include group discussions, puzzles, brainstorming, and role-play (Cadwallader et al., 2010). Activists are motivated and engaged in interactive learning, communication in classrooms and group work opportunities.
Theorists are individuals who learn by understanding theories behind actions and events. They need concepts, facts, and models to engage in learning processes and prefer synthesizing and analysing information to develop a logical and systematic conclusion. Managers should allocate personal tasks that facilitate debate around theories as opposed to time-limited seminars (Ellis et al., 2010). They enjoy analysing models, background information, and facts to develop theories that would potentially create solutions to existing organizational problems.
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Pragmatists are individuals who put learning into practice in the real conditions. Managers should ensure that pragmatists engage in activities that encourage them to use their problem-solving skills, investigate case studies, and apply theories into practice (Yoon, Sung, & Choi, 2015). Pragmatists enjoy problem-based and interactive learning. Moreover, they are experimenters who enjoy testing new ideas, theories, and techniques to solve real-life problems.
Reflectors learn by observing other people’s actions and prefer standing and watching from the side. They view a scenario from different perspectives by collecting data and using their time to develop a conclusion. Managers recommend paired discussion groups, presentations, and problem-based learning as an excellent way to engage the reflectors.
Studies show that extrinsic motivators’ effectiveness varies depending on the employee’s level of self-esteem, locus of control, self-efficacy, and neuroticism. Awards given by a manager to an employee with very high self-esteem might not be very effective as such individuals do not require approval from other people. However, an employee who has low self-esteem and lacks confidence tends to work diligently to receive praise and recognition from a manager.
More often, extrinsic monetary rewards interfere with intrinsic rewards. Considering two teams that are tasked with investigating an interesting case study from the newspaper in the process of writing a report on it can serve as a good example. Moreover, imagine that one team is paid to perform the activity and the other is not. The team that was paid is less likely to lose interest in the business. On the other hand, the team that is not paid tends to continue engaging in studying the case even after groups have submitted their reports. When an individual expects an extrinsic reward, the intrinsic motivation tends to reduce (Tsai et al., 2007). Intrinsic motivation is not vulnerable to outward reinforcements. In the end, money incentives have more adverse effects than verbal reinforcements, such as recognition and praise. However, if a person has no expectation of a monetary reward, his intrinsic motivation for a particular activity tends to persist.
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Every organization needs to recognize a vital role that motivation plays in the company's overall productivity. Motivating workers ensure that the work force is engaged and productive in business operations. Before the human resource team develops a motivational strategy, they need to understand the different factors that motivate different employees to achieve peak performance. Such knowledge helps the organization improve motivation strategy mix that drives and retains the best talents and expertise of the company. A motivational plan should include monetary incentives, programs that support life work balance, rewards, and recognitions to create a relaxed working environment. Incentive programs do not necessarily have to be monetary in nature, especially for small companies with limited budgets. Intrinsic motivators make the employees feel appreciated and part of the business success.