Tony Gilbert, is a partner at employer consultants Watson Wyatt. He says companies are right to strive for a motivated workforce and that business owners ignore the effect of staff morale on their businesses at their peril. Especially if you aren’t going to be paying them more. “There is undoubtedly a link between staff motivation and improved corporate performance. Motivation can make itself felt in many ways, such as increased productivity, better teamwork, improved communication, clearer accountability and responsibility, reduced labour turnover and absenteeism.” Steve Bailey, CEO of another employer consultancy Recruit With Confidence, agrees and says that in most cases motivating your workforce is about more than just reaching for your chequebook and handing out prizes. “An average team with a good manager who can motivate staff and communicate the aims of the business will outperform a group of talented but ill-motivated individuals,” he says. And it’s worth remembering that while cold hard cash always helps to make people feel happier it doesn’t mean they are motivated. Nick Meinertzhagen, account director with performance-improvement consultants M-2 Motivation is one of many who says it is important to remember that most people quit their jobs for reasons other than salary. “For some employees, working with a nice group of people is the most important thing. Others look for recognition or the feeling that they are making a difference. Some need constant challenges.” A question of management In fact, most of the things you can do to keep your staff happy have very little to do with salary and a lot to do with the performance of you as a manager. Which is why, you need to take a a close look at your company culture before you do anything. “You must ask yourself where you are now and where you want to be? Ask your staff what motivates them, what doesn't, and what they do and don't like about your company. Use appraisals, team meetings, staff questionnaires and exit interviews and use the feedback constructively.” In other words, work to identify what makes your staff unhappy on a day-to-day basis and then work to fix what they don’t like as far as you can. Fred Hudson is CEO of Profiles of London, a company which specialises in staff evaluation. He says a good way of doing this is by looking at your workforce’s character types and figure out what they need.
“Some people like autonomy, but others prefer close supervision. Some like to work in a constantly changing environment, others are better suited to repetitive work. Some like to be solely accountable, others hate it.” Once you have worked on that you can start to formulate the right package of promotions, added responsibility, career progression and internal training to help staff retain their cutting edge and keep them on board.

“Employees want to feel they are part of a winning team and can advance within the company. If possible, companies should work with staff to create career development plans, or help improve their skills through ongoing training.”