I recently read an old school book on leadership. To paraphrase a few lines, the organizations benefit packages are a key driver of motivation. The supervisor can’t influence those benefits but he or she can find out the costs of those benefits and tell the employee how much the organization is paying to keep them healthy and on the job. Because the employee received a high dollar benefit package they will be motivated. Well, welcome back to 1950’s thinking!
Let me illustrate how outdated this view is in comparison to today’s workers who value their “fit” within an organization. A potential employee interviews with the HR Director of an organization. The candidate asks about the organizations culture and how much it does for the community. The director responds that the organization has a great benefit package, which includes medical, life insurance and a 401K plan. The candidate tells the director that he saw that on the website, but wants to know how the employees are valued, and their interests to help out in the community are supported. The director responds back that they spend a lot of money per person on the benefit package. Again, the candidate responds back again that it is not about the co-pay, but rather the feel of the company he is interested in hearing. The director again, explains they give a great benefit package and people are motivated to work there to get those benefits. Community efforts are lauded, but the business of this organization is to make money. Here people are motivated by the money and great working conditions rather than touchy-feely outreach programs. At this point, the conversation is over and the candidate knows that he will not fit in with this type of thinking.
If you have to bribe people to work at your organization with expensive benefits then you have a problem. What happens if the benefit packages have to be reduced because of a downturn in the economy? That’s why you never rely on tangible benefits to motivate people. Rather, you highlight the intangibles. If the overall “feel” is right then the candidate will be more interested in the job and be more motivated as an employee. The emotional connections to tie people to the organization are the true drives of engagement and motivation.
It is the intangibles of the work and organization that attract, engage, retain, and motivate employees. From the outset, they want to know what it will feel like to work in a company. How are the employees treated? Even in assembly line style work employees can be extremely motivated and loyal to the organization. From the outset, you have to answer the question, “Are the employees treated as valued employees who every effort benefits the entire organization?” In turn, they will feel motivated if the intrinsic benefits exist for belonging to a high performance culture; where, excellence it not only expected from all employees, but freely given.
It all starts on how well the organization brands its self as a work destination for people who want to set down roots and are willing to work. When they are “welcomed” to the organization each new employee understands that they are a valued part of the team. Team leaders understand when someone is new to an organization they are nervous and need reassurance. During training, they meet everyone and are paired with a person of likeminded personality to help conduct the training and answer questions. Once trained and on the floor, the supervisors continue to build the team and integrate the person into the overall success of the organization. It is the intangibles of working for a leader, and being a part of a team, that motivates people. Benefit packages are important, but no one has ever been motivated to do anything more than what is required because they were told how much a company spend on their benefits. Employees who are intrinsically motivated be the organization, what it does, the internal community, and the right “feel” will fight to ensure the company is strong and profitable. The old school thinking that tangible motivate should be in a text book on bad management. Reading how to use intangibles of the organization to motivate employees is the future, and should be read by every leader trying to make a difference in their organization.