How to engage your employees when financial incentives aren’t appropriate

17th June 2015

When your employees wake up in the morning, what is it that you think fuels them to drive through their day?

Whether it’s a longing to feel valued within the workplace or to have their accomplishments recognised, you as the employer or HR professional should understand how to meet these needs. Many would say it’s the money, yet increasing numbers are starting to say that it is the desire to be happy in the workplace and make a difference.

As a leader within your organisation, it is essential that you understand what it is that your employees need and focus on their needs and desires as much as your own, if not more.

To create a productive workforce you must make your workforce happy, and to do this you must listen to them, identify what it is that they need in relation to their goals, desires and aspirations, and somehow fulfil this need. This could be done by finding common ground between you and your employee and identifying what motivates you both to work together.

By measuring non-financial areas such as employee satisfaction, businesses can receive several benefits which can ultimately affect profitability, and managers can get a glimpse of the business’s progress before any financial transactions are made which could be affected by such findings. If you are looking to improve as a leader, here are some of the most basic employee needs and how they can be met.

Significance: every employee wants to feel valued within the workplace and feel that their life has meaning and fulfilment and this is most commonly related to the praise that they receive at work. Regular assessment checks with your workforce will enable you to gain insight into where improvements could be made, and it is essential to make sure the employee receives the acknowledgement and praise they deserve. This could include taking time out of your day to thank the individual for the work they have produced, and make sure the real effect that it had on the company. This could prove beneficial for both you and your employee.

Growth: another common need of humans is the need to feel that we are growing and constantly improving, as it shows progress from where we started to where we are now. As an employer, you can help your employees grow by pushing them out of their comfort zone, as this is where the magic happens, and this will enable the individual to do things that they wouldn’t normally do.

Job empowerment or job enlargement are effective ways of taking employees where they wouldn’t normally go within the business and can allow them to grow as an individual through either taking on simply more tasks, or more important tasks.

Contribution: this is very closely related to the significance aspect of an employee’s needs, but it focuses more on the direct input an employee has on as organisation, and whether they are noticed for their contribution directly, rather than a line manager taking the credit or the overall impact the contribution has being downsized by figures of authority.

It is essential to notice any major, and just as importantly minor contributions made by employees because if work continually goes unnoticed, the employee in question will enter a spiral of reduced performance as they will begin working at minimal level due to them not feeling motivated enough to put in the extra time and effort, so instead they do the bare minimum, and who would blame them if their hard work is going constantly unnoticed.

So if as a business owner you are looking for new ways to improve productivity within your organisation by meeting employee needs, look to having closer supervision and talks with your employees to break down the age old barrier of employees feeling like they can’t express their feeling with their boss due to fear or anxiety, as this is extremely counterproductive to both parties. By identifying the problem, you as the boss will be able to create a solution for the employee in question and this will hopefully prevent such problems with future employees, further supporting the statement that prevention is better than a cure.