Viki Holton: How to motivate staff

Some organisations know what is important when it comes to employee motivation and engagement.

They offer the right salary, more or less, they appreciate staff and make them feel valued; and extra effort is not taken for granted. Compare that to a business where staff feel overworked and underpaid, are micro-managed, unappreciated and, worst of all, the goals keep changing.

The principles of employee engagement are complex. Money is often quoted as being a key factor in motivation and while it does, of course, play a part, many organisations ignore other simple issues that will make a difference. Three of these are outlined briefly below.

First, work content. Interesting and challenging work is important to most staff. Too few organisations ask for feedback, to look at ways to improve what is available, or to let staff know that they are appreciated.

Second, the senior team. Respect for the senior team is a key part of the jigsaw but yet many organisations and HR directors forget how important this link is. If the organisation wants its employees to put in extra effort, it has to show that this is valued, rather than taken for granted.

Third, the relationship with the boss. Someone who is good at motivating others in their team often takes time and effort to support staff. This may differ according to age. For example, a worker in their fifties is likely to have different values from younger, generation Y workers born after 1982. But a good deal of what younger workers want also applies to everyone.

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At the heart of this is respect. A good relationship with the boss is important, feeling valued, career development opportunities and knowing how their jobcontributes to the organisation’s success.

Viki Holton is research fellow at Ashbridge Business School