Motivating your staff without the carrot

At a time when pay rises are lagging behind inflation how do you keep your staff motivated to give their best performance when there are no pay rises on offer?

Pay is considered a “hygiene factor” along with job security and fringe benefits. This means if you get it right there is no positive satisfaction, but if you get it wrong then it can lead to dissatisfaction and disengagement from staff.

As mentioned in my last newsletter focusing on staff engagement has come to the fore for senior managers.   Many senior HR professionals have recognised that making sure staff understand the value of their “total package”, which is extrinsic to the work itself, such as pension, work conditions and work environment as well as career development and progression, has been a key focus.

This is particularly prevalent with top performers.  How do you keep your top performers from straying to the competition?  They are unlikely to move for a small increase in pay but they might believe that the competition has a more supportive and positive organisational culture and decide that it would be worth the risk.  Some organisations have tried introducing enhanced training opportunities and benefits for their star performers in order to keep them sweet.

Recent articles have also highlighted the importance of clearly communicating the rationale for pay decisions, particularly when employees see that the organisation is making reasonable profits, but hoarding these gains rather than giving a cost of living increase which matches inflation.  Compare this practice with organisations, such the John Lewis Partnership where staff received a 17% bonus this year.   Sir Stuart Hampson, a former chair of the John Lewis Partnership tells the story of the rushed opening of their out-of-town store in High Wycombe earlier this year.   Hearing of problems, staff from other shops travelled to the new store on the Sunday before it opened to help clean and prepare it. “They said, it’s our shop, our customers, our reputation, we’re not going to have it anything other than ready to open”.

The light at the end of the economic tunnel still seems far off and we may not be able to replicate the John Lewis Partnership model but there are still plenty of creative ways to keep staff engaged in this cold climate!

Please contact Hafton Consultancy if you want to talk through your organisation’s approach and ideas:  annastobart@haftonconsultancy.com