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Tag Archives: workplace motivators

Employee motivation starts with meeting their needs

My professional colleague and friend Steve Foran is on a mission to help one billion people become happier.  And he’s well on his way!  He does this through a variety of avenues, but primarily through his research and teaching on gratitude and the habits of gratefulness.  Earlier this year, in May, he invited me to articulate once a day for five days, three reasons I was grateful (so a total of fifteen).  It was a rewarding exercise, one that forced me to be thoughtful and deliberate.  Since gratitude is an essential component of leadership and employee motivation, I asked him if he would be a guest contributor on our blog.  He said yes!  So in today’s post, Steve talks specifically about two needs you must meet for your employees in order for them to be highly-motivated.

There are two foundational needs that must be met in order that an employee be fully engaged in their work. It is not simply enough that leaders know these needs, but they must actively ensure these basic human needs are fulfilled.

The motivation for people to contribute their best-selves happens when the following two needs are met:

  1. One feels capable and competent
  2. One feels socially valued

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Influence employee behaviour by using the Convenient Fruit Principle

FruitBowlOne of my favourite hotels always has a large bowl of fruit sitting on the counter in their front desk area, available to any of their hotel clientele who want a quick snack.  Recently, as I checked in one evening, I mentioned to the front desk agent that I felt the onset of a cold.  She helpfully recommended that I boost my Vitamin C consumption.  To which I laughingly responded that their fruit bowl never contained oranges, only apples and bananas.  She paused, and then earnestly replied, “Oh, we tried adding oranges, but no one ever takes the oranges, just the apples and bananas.  So now we just leave them out.”

The convenient fruit principle

At first thought, you might assume that this discrepancy exists because most people like apples and bananas more than oranges.  But when you consider it further, the reason is much simpler.  Apples and bananas are easy to eat, but oranges are not.  As delicious as oranges are, you usually need a knife to eat them.  And if they can be peeled, most times they are quite messy.  So hotel guests looking for a quick and easy snack always pick the apples and bananas.  I call this the “convenient fruit principle”, and it applies just as much in the workplace as it does at snack time.

Use the convenient fruit principle to motivate desired behaviour

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To motivate employees, thank their spouses and families

This blog post was originally written in January 2014, and has been updated since then. 

GiftBasketOver the years, I have posted many times about zero-cost or inexpensive ways to motivate employees.  Each time my focus has been on ways to create a positive workplace atmosphere.  If you can secure your employees’ cooperation and loyalty, you can improve productivity and performance.

In fact, last year, in 2018, I posted an entire series of video blogs (33 in total) that focused specifically on ideas to motivate employees.  Each video was a 2-3 minute specific actionable idea that leaders could use to build positivity, productivity and performance.  But it’s always very exciting to actually see these tips in action … even better when I experience them first-hand.

It happened to me!

Which is exactly what happened to me in January 2014 when a gourmet food hamper arrived at my front door! It was accompanied by a card – “Please accept this small gesture of my appreciation for your family’s patience and sacrifice during the company’s year-end close”.  It was signed by a senior manager of the company my husband works for. What a pleasant surprise! Continue reading

Blocking internal transfers and promotions is a bad idea!

Demotivator on Warning Road SignSometimes, managers deliberately and consciously take actions that while logical, create situations that are non-productive and hugely demotivating. Unfortunately, this is more usual than not.  In fact, this was the very topic of a one of my regular The Globe & Mail columns back in November 2014 titled Why do smart managers do stupid things?

I continue to see examples of this dysfunctional behaviour repeatedly in my leadership development practice.  Last week I had a very positive conversation with a group of leaders in one of my client organizations, but it reminded me of this very negative situation that I came across (and blogged about) back in 2016.  In fact, it stirred up such dialogue in this group that I felt it was worth bringing up in the blog again.

I got a call from an employee at a large client company, very upset because his manager had blocked his internal transfer.  This organization has an online internal job bulletin board that permits employees to apply for internal jobs within the company.  This particular employee had, with his manager’s knowledge, applied for a job in another department.  Since he has been in his current role for over three years, he was seeking different challenges and new learning opportunities.  The interview process went well and he was optimistic about getting this new assignment.  Imagine his surprise to learn that he did not get the job because his manager had blocked the transfer.  Turns out that there had been some other recent unexpected personnel changes in the department, and his manager felt that his move would be too much change, too fast. Continue reading

Build employee commitment by celebrating – our last tip in our 2018 series on motivating employees

All year, I’ve been giving you video tips on explicit actions leaders can take to motivate their people and build employee commitment for the long haul.  Last week, I went back to basics with “Provide a workplace that is free from bullying and harassment”.  Today, #33, happens to be our final strategy in this continuing series, so it seems only appropriate that it should be about a celebration.  Specifically, today’s motivating tip is to plan periodic office parties.  Let me explain further.

Plan periodic office parties

Your goal should be to maximize attendance for motivation value, so consider holding your office party during office hours, ideally over the lunch hour.  Plan to have them once a quarter, or even monthly.  Encourage employees to get involved in the planning; in fact, go as far as appointing each of your employees to one of the quarterly or monthly “planning committees” so that over the year each of your people are involved in one event.  Continue reading

Absolutely fundamental to gaining employee commitment: a workplace that is free of bullying and harassment

So far, in our ongoing series on specific actions leaders can take to gain employee commitment, I’ve shared a variety of ideas that range from basic to the unexpected.  Today’s strategy however falls under “absolutely fundamental”.  It is to provide a workplace that is free from bullying and harassment.  Not fancy or exotic, but unequivocally essential.  And when you do it right, the result is solid employee commitment!

Provide a workplace that is free from bullying and harassment

All employees have the right to be in a safe workplace that is free from violence, harassment and bullying.  Not only is it the right thing to do from an ethical perspective, but it is also required by law.  And it’s your job as a leader to make it so. Continue reading

Secure employee commitment by letting them annually attend a training event of their choice

In our last video episode in our ongoing series focusing on specific motivating actions leaders can take to secure employee commitment, I suggested that you let your employees telecommute, even occasionally.  Today’s idea: offer each of your employees the opportunity to annually attend at least one training program or learning conference of their choice.

Let your people attend at least one training event (of their choice) annually

When you invest financial resources into your employees, what you’re really telling them is that you value them and want to set them up for success.  No wonder then that this seemingly simple action invariably results in increased employee commitment.  And when you let your employees choose which training or conference to attend, the motivating value goes up significantly.

Concerned about abuse? It can be managed

Now I’ve heard the objections to this … what if the employee selects training that is not ideal for their job?  Or what if the employee chooses a conference that is at some exotic location that costs an arm and a leg in travel expenses?  Continue reading

When you let them telecommute, you create engaged employees

All year, I’ve been offering ideas in our ongoing series on specific things leaders can do to create highly motivated and engaged employees.  Earlier this month, I talked about giving your employees positive opportunities to interact with your senior management.  Today’s tip (which also happens to be #30 in this series): let your employees telecommute.

Let your employees telecommute

Let them work from home; not necessarily every day, but how about a few days a week, or even once a week?  Heck, even once a month is hugely motivating.  Even occasional telecommuting leads to highly engaged employees … because they view it as freedom – the independence to be productive, stay motivated and save time. Now I am well aware that there are certain jobs that don’t lend themselves to telecommuting – I mean can you imagine being a retail store clerk or a grocery store cashier from afar?  But … the vast majority of jobs have at least some responsibilities that can be done from a distance.  And in some cases, these tasks can be completed much more efficiently if they’re away from the daily distractions of the workplace.

With today’s technology, working from home is no longer as impossible as it might have once been.  Continue reading

Want engaged employees? Let them interact meaningfully with senior management

Today’s post on the blog continues with another specific idea on how to build a team of highly-motivated and engaged employees.  Last week’s tip was to organize a team-building and learning day.  And today’s strategy is to find opportunities to give your strong employees exposure to your senior management by assigning them to appropriate task forces and committees.

Give your people opportunities to show their strengths to senior management

Many of your employees aspire to bigger and better opportunities, so when you put them in situations where they can demonstrate their skills and talents to others who can also help them achieve their career goals, the result is highly engaged employees.  This scenario is a win in many aspects.  It’s a win because your employees’ professional networks are broadened, allowing them to “show their stuff” to other key influencers.  It is a win for you because Continue reading

Five ways to make flexible working work

The proliferation of flexible work continues.  Whether the flexibility is related to hours (such as flexi-time, compressed weeks, or part-time work) or workstyles (telecommuting, flexible workspaces, or job sharing), it is something that more employees want.  Flexible working arrangements are viewed as attractive because they represent freedom – to be productive, stay motivated, and save time.

All of which also benefits employers, but not every organization has come around to appreciating the advantages.  Ironically, if your organization isn’t open to the idea of flexible work, you are putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to recruiting, hiring and keeping the best and the brightest.  Which means it’s worth your while to at least explore the possibility. In my latest column in The Globe and Mail, I offer five must-dos to help you make flexible working a reasonable alternative in your organization.

Five ways to make “flexible working” actually work

Flexible working

If you get the print edition of The Globe, you’ll find today’s column on page B12.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/2RjIGoI

So I’d love to hear about your experiences with flexible working.  Is it an option that is offered in your organization?  Is it working well?  What are some of the challenges?  What do your employees think about it?  Please add your thoughts below.