What's My Motivation?; JUST THE JOB;The Office

Article excerpt

Byline: KATE LOVELL

The Office

Doing the same job every day can become a drag unless you feel appreciated.

So what is it that makes people tick, asks Kate Lovell

NO one expects you to cartwheel around the office, whooping for joy before you race back to your desk, eager to begin the latest assignment handed to you by your boss.

But if the best you can do is grunt in acknowledgement and not contemplate starting it until you've finished reading the Evening Standard, then it's time you looked at the reasons why. Staff motivation can be a big problem.

The signs of an unmotivated team are easy to spot, including absenteeism, indecision, inefficiency, poor office politics and a decline in turnover.

Many companies spend a lot of money investing in various motivational drivers to overcome such pitfalls. Marc Sokol, managing director of Personnel Decisions International, says: "If a business wants to achieve more collectively, keeping staff motivated is vital." Not only is it instrumental in raising productivity and lowering staff retention levels, but it also helps to increase profitability and client loyalty.

This is where benefit schemes and good practice come in. Perks offered by employers serve as subliminal tools to keep staff motivated. But they don't always work. Psychologist William James said: "The deepest need in every human being is the desire to be appreciated."

So while your company may provide free biscuits and have a good deal with the local gym, if you don't feel appreciated such perks prove worthless.

Management structure and company culture must be up to scratch. Staff need support from managers, and, in turn, managers need support from HR and company infrastrucworkerstures. This needs open lines of communication.

"Staff expect more from an employer than just being told what to do," says Vince Hewitt, head of HR at Standard Life Healthcare. "We run coffee mornings, led by the chief executive and the head of human resources, to encourage a variety of issues to be raised. In addition, there are quarterly briefings to update staff on the company's performance, we issue an internal magazine and have a bright ideas and suggestion scheme in place."

Keeping communication lines open in this way and allowing staff to have an active input into the company structure not only creates a sense of personal value, it also helps to limit political hierarchy.

Getting to know staff will uncover individual drivers.

It's important that managers understand what makes tick, but this is not a free ticket for gossiping or an excuse to run up bills at fancy restaurants.

Surveys show remuneration and cash incentives to be the primary motivators for senior staff, while variety, responsibility and a challenge within a role are the top motivators for those in less senior positions. Sokol suggests that because different people react to different things, employers must "ensure the alignment of personal values with the success factors of the job"; this means achieving the right balance between policies and company culture. …