Money is not the best motivator: here’s what to focus on instead

Money employee motivation

We all know it: finding ways to keep people engaged at work is hard work. The latest research from Gallup found that more than half (51.9 percent) of U.S. workers are not engaged in their jobs, while 15.7 percent are “actively disengaged.” Even then, you can’t assume that only unhappy workers are considering jobs elsewhere. A separate study from LinkedIn found that 45 percent of American and Canadian workers are keeping an eye out for the next opportunity, even though only 30 percent are looking for a job.

With the cost of replacing an entry-level employee averaging between 30-50 percent of their annual salary – and skyrocketing to 400 percent for highly specialized employees, you can’t afford to ignore how you engage your workforce. Hiring, retaining and engaging top talent is central to business productivity and growth.


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Here’s the problem, however – most companies use money as the primary method to incentivize its workers. Sure, financial incentives can help people in the short term with their bills and expenses – but when it comes to changing behavior, there is little correlation between pay and job satisfaction levels – even across cultures and regions.

If you want to improve employee engagement, here are several initiatives that you should focus on instead that can deliver longer-term benefits to your workforce.

1. Establish a corporate mission and vision.

At the heart of any company is its mission, which defines its purpose and reason for existence. A strong mission statement can be bold, lofty and ambitious all at the same time, while also aligning how a company presents its culture, brand and performance.

Some executives don’t realize the importance of a mission statement, seeing it as a playing a trivial role compared to organizational performance and profitability. However, what they may fail to notice is that people’s work lives are greatly enriched when they feel that they are working on something that is meaningful. Studies have shown that people are more motivated and engaged when there is meaning and ownership of their work. By clearly defining what the company stands for, it serves as the anchor to guide and inspire its employees.

2. Inspire a culture where people feel valued.

One of the most popular business documents on the Internet (with over 14.6 million views and counting is Netflix’s manifesto on company culture. It’s no surprise that culture is one of the hottest topics across organizations today, and how it impacts engagement and retention.

The answer to truly improving employee engagement is in dedicating time to hone a positive work environment and culture, where people feel valued as contributing members of the team. When people believe in the company that they work for and feel recognized for the work they do, they’re more likely to work harder.

Make sure that the business focuses on celebrating successes – even the small wins – across teams and that this is recognized in different ways, such as company-wide meetings, employee appreciation boards or team celebrations. For managers, it’s important to remind them to build a personal connection and trusting relationship with their teammates. What may seem like small praise and recognition can pay big dividends when people feel that they are specifically acknowledged and recognized at work.

3. Give employees a chance to challenge and advance themselves.

A Glassdoor survey of UK employees found that 22 percent of employees quit because of monotonous or boring work. Nobody wants to feel stuck working in a dead-end job, but unfortunately not everyone will express their job dissatisfaction openly.

Are you helping your employees work on tasks that are less mundane so that they can grow as professionals? Rather than micromanaging your employees, technologies such as Replicon TimeBill can help people better capture, manage and optimize their time so that you can wean them off spending time on admin-heavy tasks to being more strategic and creative thinkers. At Replicon, we’ve worked with thousands of customers globally to give them real-time visibility into how they work, which empowers them to make better decisions in areas including better workforce management, productivity and profitability.

4. Encourage employees to take much-needed time off.

For people to be effective and energized about their job, they need to take time away from work rather than be connected 24/7. Employees who use most or all of their vacation time each year perform better, are more productive and more satisfied at work people who are workaholics. While the United States is the only developed nation that treats paid time off as a perk rather than a right (and the number of unused vacation hours is at a 40-year high), businesses nationwide are starting to more actively encourage their staff to take time off. Replicon TimeOff can automate absence management tracking, helping employees easily submit time off requests in the cloud and on their mobile devices and check their time off balances. Our system can also create highly configurable rules that handle specific calculations such as end of year resets, accruals, and overtime limits.

While financial incentives are helpful in driving employee morale and engagement, these should not be the only approach that organizations rely upon. Rather, a combination of more holistic and tailored initiatives where people feel a sense of purpose, value and support will more likely ensure that your business is primed for greater employee engagement, productivity and business growth.


Enhance Productivity for the New Age Workforce

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Sangeet Saurabh


Sangeet Saurabh

Sangeet is the Vp of Project Management at Replicon. Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. With complete solution sets for client billing, project costing, and time and attendance management, Replicon enables the capture, administration, and optimization of your most underutilized and important asset: time.


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