All too often, executives and managers focus on implementing lean practices, cutting waste and investing in new capital to boost workforce productivity. And all too often, the easiest and most cost effective method to increasing output is overlooked: incentivizing employees.
When an organization overlooks employees, a company’s most valuable asset is neglected. As such, the company’s most valuable asset, its labourforce, will depreciate. Depreciating assets lead to diminishing returns.
Creating value through employees is simple: incorporate mechanisms that catalyze appreciable productivity. Ultimately, the only way to appreciate productivity is to incentivize employees. Incentivized employees associate organizational benefits with personal benefits
Here are seven surefire steps to incentivize the modern employee:
1. Setting Benchmarks-
Benchmarks can either be individually oriented or team oriented. Determining which is more effective depends on the industry or job performed. Individually-oriented benchmarks can vary wildly, from setting daily correspondence objectives to monthly quotas. Be cautious: Individual benchmarks can, if too perfunctory, disenfranchise an employee. And conversely, if too stringent, can be defeating. Individually-oriented benchmarks should be competitive and achievable.
Team-oriented benchmarks tend to be more effective and long-lasting, meaning a sense of camaraderie develops organically. Team-oriented benchmarks guise organizational benchmarks and are only attainable if the staff works collectively. Some examples include targeted growth percentages, budgetary goals and even safety/health measures. Inexperienced managers confuse individual benchmarks with team benchmarks, counterproductively pitting employees against one another. This creates internal competition and can often lead to staff acrimony. The objective is to foster an ‘organization first’ mentality.
2. Bridging Divides-
A manager’s most vital duty after effectively defining productive individual and organizational benchmarks is to build communication channels. Ultimately, a manager must be able to relate with all individuals and the group at large. Thus, the manager
must proactively and simultaneously deploy varied relationship-building tactics. Again, an inexperienced manager confuses the two approaches. An individual approach doesn’t reach the entire group, and the group approach is too impersonal to build genuine relationships. Increased productivity depends on distinguishing between two audiences.
3. Growing Trust-
Trust in the workplace is the underlying belief that the actions of a manager are meant to help the employee succeed, both in the short-term and long-term. Often, managers fail to grasp that a genuine relationship entails relating to one’s professional objectives. Managers and employees who trust one another grow a symbiotic relationship capable of great returns. The best way to help an employee succeed is to, first, discover what the employee’s definition of success is and then, second, map a route to get there. Open, regular dialogue is essential to staying the course.
4. Gauging Attitudes-
It is well documented that positive, energetic attitudes directly correlate to increased productivity. Positive attitudes drive people to be successful, which create high performing teams. A high performing team
translates to a better product; a better product means better sales; more sales mean more dollars; and more dollars with the same overhead mean higher gross profits. Only by listening can a manager accurately assess the attitudes of individuals and the department, which is why creating communication channels and welcoming dialogue are foundations of productivity.
5. Personalizing Value-
Employees spend a majority of their time in the workplace and, therefore, must be stimulated and valued. Unfortunately, many people’s personal lives are deprived of value. The workplace provides an ideal environment to bestow value because a manager can easily ask for input, delegate tasks or simply listen. Personal value stems from self esteem and a feeling of importance, which transforms to organizational value instantaneously. Giving value and empowering employees provides a sense that they do have something of value to contribute
6. Recognizing Efforts-
Positive reinforcement is one of the oldest tricks to eliciting a response. The most simple and cost effective way to positively reinforce an employee’s diligent efforts and industrious inclinations is to acknowledge a job well done. Like many of the steps above, the manner to deliver recognition is best determined by the manager, having already bridged the divided. Direct manager to employee recognition via email to the introvert can be just as effective as the companywide award given to the attention seeker. Inexperienced managers focus solely on improvement. Recognizing the great performance of employees motivates them to garner more accolades and exceed expectations.
7. Incentivizing Results-
When an employee or team exceeds expectations, lands a huge contract or attracts favorable publicity, the organization’s gain must be the employee’s gain. Financial incentives take many forms: stock options
, commissions, corporate events, paid time off, upward mobility, preferred parking, gift cards, etc. Companies calculate a return on investment to measure organizational productivity—does the output equal or exceed the input. Employees are no different. An incentivized employee is a productive employee.