Like most entrepreneurs, your early startup days were far from glamorous. Still, you wouldn’t trade those long nights and countless strategy sessions for anything. You rely on these experiences to help drive your company toward success. But what’s motivating your employees to do the same?
To uncover the influencers of employee motivation, satisfaction and dissatisfaction, psychologist Frederick Herzberg conducted a series of studies and stumbled across a fascinating discovery: The contributors to job satisfaction and dissatisfaction aren’t related. In other words, fixing problems or establishing a positive work environment won’t translate into more satisfied employees; it just means they’re no longer dissatisfied.
Herzberg concluded that true employee satisfaction rests in a fulfilling job experience – more commonly known as job enrichment or vertical job loading. Employers who deepened their staff’s knowledge through programs or benefits promoting achievement, recognition, responsibility and advancement had the happiest, most productive workforces. They also had more cohesive work cultures, increased company loyalty and more motivated teams.
To enrich the work experience and instill motivation in your employees, implement these five practices into your organization:
1. Find a balance between job enrichment and job enlargement.
A growing business will inevitably require you to expand your employees’ duties and responsibilities, known as job enlargement or horizontal job loading. While some thrive under a heavier workload of diverse tasks, others prefer more intensive and challenging tasks. It’s important to understand where your employees fall on this spectrum so you can balance the duties and enrichment opportunities effectively, keeping everyone satisfied and motivated to go the extra mile.
2. Initiate career development discussions.
Establish collaborative, cross-departmental discussions about the types of enrichment opportunities that employees feel would be most beneficial to them and their co-workers.
At Underground Elephant, we hold monthly lunches with an employee and an executive who don’t normally interact with each other. Because of our flat hierarchy and emphasis on collaboration, employees are encouraged to ask questions about the company, discuss career road bumps and successes and gain new insights into the business. This establishes a level of transparency and accessibility for employees to understand company decisions and gain new perspectives.
3. Offer continued education and training opportunities.
Offering continued education, training, mentorship and/or tuition reimbursement can be highly beneficial to you and your employees. Employees appreciate the opportunity to broaden their skill sets and improve their standing in the company. And you gain a well-trained and adaptable workforce as a result. Plus, you’re offering a highly regarded and desirable job benefit and could potentially qualify for tax breaks on educational assistance costs.
Establish guidelines for educational and training opportunities that your company will cover. Collaborate with local colleges or professors to set up informational sessions to give your employees an idea of the opportunities available to them.
4. Implement cross-functional training.Begin a cross-functional training program that enables employees to learn skills and business strategies from other departments. This will give employees a clearer understanding of how their work fits into the company’s broad business objectives. Because this approach leverages talent from within your current workforce, you will spend less on outside recruitment to fill vacancies, including temporary positions for employee vacations and leaves of absence.
5. Hand over some responsibility.
When employees feel trusted and valued by their employers, they gain an enhanced sense of purpose, motivation and responsibility. Demonstrate trust in your employees by stepping away from the supervisor role, giving individuals more responsibility over projects or departments and training them to take on managerial duties.
As you plan your company’s next step for financial and physical growth, don’t neglect to consider your team’s personal and professional growth as well. Strike a balance between increasing job responsibilities and job enrichment opportunities. This is the key to keeping your employees satisfied, motivated and focused on success -- both for themselves and their company.