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Motivate Your Employees

When I was learning how to be interviewed by potential employers, someone explained to me that during an interview, potential employers are asking the question “can I spend eight hours a day with this person”. That was a career changing idea for me because it made me realize how much the human-element affected my chances of getting a job and keeping one. It wasn’t how many degrees I held, where I interned, my GPA, honors course work, or overflowing resume. What my employers really care about is how I am to work with. But that concept goes both ways. Not only do managers have to make sure they are hiring people they can work with, managers have to make sure that they are personally easy to work with and be around for eight hours a day.

How to Motivate Your Employees

Let’s take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Abraham Maslow was the psychologist proposed a “Theory of Human Motivation”, and became famous for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that is one of the principal resources for studying organizational behavior in the workplace. This hierarchy demonstrates what needs people have to be motivated, the same motivation that carries over to the work place.

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

Most businesses are good at meeting the two most foundational needs in this pyramid: Physiological and safety. Most physiological needs are met by compensation and benefits. This takes the form of income for basic living needs like food, water, housing, basic medical, etc. Safety needs are met by making a workplace as non-hazardous as possible. The more you can meet both physiological and safety needs the more motivated and satisfied your employees will be at work.

The real problem comes with the next tier in Maslow’s pyramid: Belonging. When looking at belonging needs (love, affection, being a part of a group), it’s hard to find a way to meet them in the work place because they are not met through legal requirements like minimum wage and OSHA. Look back to our interview example: as a manager, ask yourself “am I easy and pleasant to work with?” Here are some things other things to think about:

  • Do you know every employee under your supervision? First and last name? Birthday? Find ways to relate with your employees in the work place. Ask how their kids are doing, or what they did over the weekend as an easy way to demonstrate that you know them, and care about them.
  • Are you accessible to your employees? Are you easy to talk to about schedule issues? Work place conflicts? Problems or questions employees have about their job? Other than big, scary performance reviews, do you regularly give both positive and constructive feedback? If not, try pulling employees aside every once and a while or consider weekly check-ins. Even if it’s five minutes, it’s important to make the time.
  • Do your employees like you? Why? Or Why not? Look closely at how people interact with you. Do your employees avoid you like the plague? Do they cringe when you start talking? Specifically look at body language and try to pick up on things your employees don’t like about you, and make a serious effort to fix it.
  • Are you building a sense of community in the work place? Most full-time employees spend more time with their co-workers during the day than then their significant other. What sort of team-building efforts are there in place to encourage employees to be a part of a “team” and fulfill their psychological need to be a part of a group? Little things like bringing a snack to share with everyone or a workplace pot-luck during the lunch hour can go a long way to make everyone feel connected.

The other two tiers of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are esteem needs and self-actualization. You can address esteem needs by offering encouragement, and publicly praising people for their good work. Self-actualization could be addressed by offering your employees a challenge. I once worked at a grocery store where we were encouraged to meet a minimum “rings per minute (RPM)” at the cash register to get customers through lines faster. My manager turned it into a game, and the person with the highest RPM got a gift card to the store and their name posted in the break room for that pay-period.

Employees are a business’s greatest asset. By catering to their psychological needs, being easy to work with, and building a sense of community in your work place, you can drive turnover rates down and drive job satisfaction up.

Try this: Schedule a brainstorming session with all of the managers in your business or department. Find a way to address these needs in your workplace, and find some creative ways to go above and beyond the basics. The more you fulfill these needs, the more successful your efforts will be.


Guest Blogger: Alexandra Glover

Author Bio: Alexandra is a Senior at Liberty University triple majoring in Project Management, Marketing and Human Resources. She currently works in Liberty University’s marketing department and is completing an internship at Genworth Financial.

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