Financial incentives are not the answer to long-term engagement and motivation of your employees. Pay raises, like new purchases, become normalized and only provide short-term benefits. Non-monetary incentives are much more powerful in motivating, engaging, and retaining employees in the long run. These non-monetary incentives are already tools in the hands of employers, relying largely on leadership to be effective.
According to Teresa Amabile & Steven J. Kramer’s progress principle, employees consider progress the best motivation. Even incremental gains are “more frequently associated with positive emotions and high motivation than any other workday event.”
Nobody likes to work without knowing the reason why. Otherwise, work is all Sisyphean tasks and endless rides on the hamster wheel. Targets provide purpose, while larger goals and missions provide an energizing feeling of being part of something, which can increase commitment and care. Without also providing clear expectations and consistency, goals and missions, and thus progress, cannot be reached.
Giving employees autonomy can help create a sense of control and more meaningful ownership of work. Plus, freedom allows employees to innovate and come up with new ideas. Providing some room to breathe, whether that means less micromanagement, or meeting-free days, or flexible work schedules and vacations, will see happier employees. And happier workers perform and innovate better.
Treat your employees like human beings
Simply paying attention to your employees and interacting with them in a thoughtful way fosters conditions for making progress possible.
Take care in the ways you communicate. Provide opportunities for employees to give their own input and be heard. In fact, listen in general to your employees and how they’re feeling, for whatever they’re going through might be affecting their work. Don’t forget to acknowledge hard work and praise employees for good work. It’s one thing to note your own progress, and another to receive recognition and validation from your supervisors.
These methods take time and effort on the part of your leaders, but they don’t cost money. Ultimately, employing non-financial incentives will improve your business, because your employees’ progress is tied to your company’s.
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