Monday, November 8, 2010

Employee Motivation

Increasing employee motivation, satisfaction, and performance is essential to production and profitability. No company can survive if the workforce is not on board with the development and direction of the company. Employees who enjoy their jobs listed the work itself as the biggest contributors to satisfaction. Organizational Behavior authors Stephen Robbins and Timothy Judge stated “…enjoying the work itself is almost always the facet most strongly correlated with high levels of overall job satisfaction. Interesting jobs that provide training, variety, independence, and control satisfy most employees (2007).
Creating a plan to strengthen an employee’s job satisfaction has been a factor for study for more than half a century. Some companies have instituted various ideas to increase their employee’s satisfaction. More recognition, promotions, matching personality to the task, and various health and stress management tools are being instituted at many companies. Things like free gym memberships, free health screens, in-house massages, recreation centers in-house, and healthy food catering for lunches are just some of the many ways companies are helping their employees. Google is probably one the biggest outside-the-box thinkers when it comes to ensuring employees are stress-free and happy. Google has open meeting rooms in hallways lined with whiteboards because according to Google president Larry Page “Ideas don’t just happen in the boardroom. If an idea hits an employee walking down the hall that person should have a way to express that creativity and immortalize it immediately”. Groups can meet in specially designed areas that foster relaxation and creativity like the lounge area where big, overstuffed Laz-E-Boy chairs surround tranquil vegetation and whiteboards. A cafeteria serves healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner options (free of charge) so employees do not have to leave to get a good meal. Recreation areas with video games, personal televisions, satalite radio, and computers are on excellent places to just “getaway” according to Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO. “Employees need to relax whenever they need to, not on a schedule. Stress relief fosters healthy habits and productivity”.
These ideas didn’t just happen out of the air. There was serious thought and ingenuity in bringing these thoughts to fruition. “Google is the only dotcom to achieve the rare distinction of zero percent employee turnover” according to (n.d.). So Google seems to have won the battle between success and employee satisfaction. But not every company can have hockey tournaments, foosball competitions, and Zen-like atmospheres for their employees. A plan to optimize employee production and balance it with reasonable employee satisfaction comes from listening to what employees have to say. If they’re uncomfortable in the way desks are arranged, try a different configuration until a good balance is found. When an employee asks why the company doesn’t have bottled water or reverse osmosis filtering, have a company bring in a water dispenser or, if funds allow, have a filtration system put in on the drinking fountains. These are simple things that make employees happy and they feel they are appreciated.
Innovative companies have excelled at developing employees that can identify a problem, collaborate with a team or management, and fix or avoid the issue. Mentoring and/or finding these types of individuals have been a hurdle for every company on the planet. An experienced HR department with clear instructions and definitions of the type of person needed and the job description so a person’s qualifications can be matched to the job that will do the best job and reduce turn-over and increase productivity. Other properties of innovative companies are reward systems, handling failure with praise for initiative, and creating a learning environment that set them apart from the norm. Companies that continue to reinvent themselves consistently produce higher profits and lower turnover rates. So innovative companies are ones that hire and develop the best and brightest talent they can afford, create learning environments that foster creativity and idea, and reinvent themselves when the time is right to keep them at the forefront of their industries.

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