Employers face dynamic and ever increasing challenges in this economy. A global economy of discriminating consumers has placed demands on employers never before seen. Employers face the challenges of maintaining productivity, profitability as well as keeping their workforce engaged and satisfied with their jobs.
Environmental pressures, rising health care costs, and the needs of the workforce have placed management in a complicated and tenuous situation. The answer lies with creating a work environment that maintains employee job satisfaction as well as motivates people toward exceptional performance.
A survey conducted by the Conference Board showed only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work. This is the lowest level ever recorded by the Conference Board in more than 22 years of research.
Those that fail to improve job satisfaction are at risk of losing their top talented people to the competition. Supervisors and managers who maximize the potential, creative abilities, and talents of the entire workforce have a greater competitive advantage than those who don’t. Employees that are engaged in their work have a higher level of job satisfaction. Motivated workers provide the health insurance businesses desperately needed in these chaotic times.
The leaders of the organization have the responsibility for creating a high level of job satisfaction. Dr. Edwards Deming said, “The aim of leadership should be to improve the performance of man and machine, to improve quality, to increase output, and simultaneously to bring pride of workmanship to people.” A motivating environment is one that gives workers a sense of pride in what they do. To show supervisors and managers how to build a more productive work environment, I’ve created a five-step process called the PRIDE system. Leaders can improve employee motivation and employee engagement within their organizations by following this process:
Job satisfaction begins by first providing a positive work environment. Fran Tarkenton says, to find what motivates people, “you have to find what turns people on.” This is the most important factor in the process. A motivating working environment requires going over and beyond the call of duty and providing for the needs of the worker.
Walt Disney World Company provides an excellent work environment for their employees or “cast members.” Employee assistance centers are spread strategically across the theme park. Some of the services included employee discount programs, childcare information, money orders, postage stamps, check cashing, and bus passes. The Walt Disney Company realizes that taking care of their employee’s needs keep them motivated, on the job and loyal to the company.
Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Personal recognition is a powerful tool in building morale and motivation. A pat on the back, a personal note from a peer or a supervisor does wonders. Small, informal celebrations are many times more effective than a once a quarter or once a year formal event.
Graham Weston, co-founder and CEO of Rackspace Managed Hosting, gives the keys to his BMW M3 convertible for a week to his top performing employees. This creative way to reward employees has a bigger impact than cash. He says, “If you gave somebody a $200 bonus, it wouldn’t mean very much. When someone gets to drive my car for a week, they never forget it.”
I have spent several years researching what organizations do to motivate and energize their workforces to achieve high levels of employee satisfaction. I have captured their best ideas and condensed and summarized them in a book. There are hundreds of easy-to-implement techniques that are guaranteed to improve performance, energize, help motivate, and improve teamwork. Just about all these ideas cost nothing or very little to implement.
People may show up for work, but are they engaged and productive? People are more committed and have higher levels of employee engagement when there is a process for them to contribute their ideas and employee suggestions. This gives them a sense of ownership and pride in their work.
The Sony Corporation fosters the exchange of ideas within departments by sponsoring an annual Idea Exposition. During the exposition, scientists and engineers display projects and ideas they are working on. Open only to Sony’s employees, this process creates a healthy climate of innovation and engages all those who participate.
Capturing employee suggestions and ideas engages and improves employee motivation, creating a more productive and satisfying work environment. Yet many ignore the untapped resource of their employees who know their jobs better than any expert.
Our Idea Campaigns are different than typical employee suggestion programs. The Campaign is a proven way to capture hundreds of ideas to improve productivity, cut costs and drive improvements from the bottom up in a short time period.
Training and education motivates people and makes them more productive and innovative. At Federal Express, all customer contact people are given six weeks of training before they ever answer the first phone call. Learning never stops and testing continues throughout their employment tenure. Every six months customer service people are tested using an on-line computer system. Pass/fail results are sent to each employee within 24 hours. They receive a personalized “prescription” on areas that need reviewing with a list of resources and lessons that will help. Federal Express’ intensive training and development program has resulted in higher motivation and lower turnover.
There are many reasons training and development makes sense. Well-trained employees are more capable and willing to assume more control over their jobs. They need less supervision, which frees management for other tasks. Employees are more capable to answer the questions of customers which builds better customer loyalty. Employees who understand the business, complain less, are more satisfied, and are more motivated. All this leads to better management-employee relationships.
Continuous evaluation and never ending improvement is the final step of the PRIDE system. Evaluation is a nonstop activity that includes a specific cycle of steps focusing on job satisfaction and employee engagement. The primary purpose of evaluation is to measure progress and determine what needs improving. Continuous evaluation includes, but is not limited to, the measurement of attitudes, morale, and motivation of the workforce. It includes the identification of problem areas needing improvement and the design and implementation of an improvement plan. Good organizations conduct a job satisfaction survey at least once a year.
Businesses have searched far and wide for the competitive advantage, the best equipment, technology, or the latest business fad. These provide only temporary solutions. The true competitive advantage is trained and motivated people proudly working together for a common purpose, contributing their vitality and energy toward the goals of the enterprise.