Motivation is more than a bulging pay packet

MORALE among employees is reported to be at an all time low in Britain as we drag ourselves out of one of the worst recessions on record. Job cuts, lack of pay rises and bonuses and the snail’s pace of the recovery have left many workers demotivated and disengaged – giving their employers a headache about how to turn things around.

But surely this can’t be true of City workers can it? Some of the biggest earners in the country ply their trade here with remuneration packages consistently rated as the hot topic for water-cooler gossip.

Yet delve a little deeper and you find pay is actually pretty low down the list of motivators for the workforce once employees find they have enough to live on and money ceases to be a stress factor in their lives.

Stephen Archer of leadership consultancy Spring Partnerships argues that the past two years in which employees and organisations have been subdued has changed the unspoken contract that exists between staff and their paymasters. Employers hoped workers would hang on and remain motivated despite the lack of pay rises and bonuses, while employees just hoped they could hold onto their jobs.

Now though, Archer explains, as we come out of recession and the job market is more healthy, businesses are starting to grow again and they’re going to have to work harder to keep people because employees feel they’ve got their mobility back.

“People no longer see themselves as being in careers but more as guns for hire,” Archer warns. “Employers have got to keep people motivated and give them a reason to stay where they are – which is something they would not have had to do 20 to 30 years ago.”

Interesting jobs, training and coaching and developing leadership skills have got to come to the fore, he says. “The best motivation you can give workers now is to invest in them and give them a clear development path in the organisation. These things are far more valuable than pay rises,” Archer adds. “People stay in an organisation because they feel good about themselves. No-one does this if they’re just slogging through – no matter how much they are paid.”

For any organisation that is faced with an unmotivated and disengaged workforce the first priority, Archer argues, is to share with employees what is being done to turn that business around. “Explaining what they can do to be a part of that, making them involved in the turnaround task, will motivate people because it gives them a role in securing their own futures,” he says.

ben.griffiths@cityam.com