Blog Post

Empowered Employees: How to Increase Motivation in the New Normal

Dave Mortell

From the initial phases of transitioning to fully remote work to changes in communications, training and reviews, leaders have needed to make significant changes to equip team members for success.

Following our discussion of the performance management trends in the new normal and the tactics you can employ to improve morale and keep up with your team members, we’re looking at what it takes to keep staff motivated.

From an increased focus on employee reward programs to expanded allowances and subscriptions, leaders have a variety of opportunities to encourage workers in the era of Zoom fatigue and social isolation.

Reevaluating Employee Rewards Programs

Your organization likely faced financial struggles throughout the pandemic. After all, it’s not easy to keep revenues stable—especially when many states haven’t pivoted to a full reopening of the economy.

While revenue may be short, personal stressors are long. Employees are anxious about the future of the business and their jobs. Layoffs and furloughs have probably cut into your company morale, and many still dread the other shoe dropping.

Top Spenders Put $0.53 per $1,000 Revenue in Rewards and Retention

Understandably, despite a decrease in revenue, one area you shouldn’t cut is the employee rewards program. As discussed in a recent CFO article, HR leaders are realizing that one of the most critical areas to maintain or even increase spending is their rewards program. Citing research from APQC, the top 25 percent of performers spend more than three times those in the bottom 25 percent and have helped employees feel more confident in the future.

"APQC found that companies in the 75th percentile spend the most on this process at $0.53 per $1,000 revenue. Companies within the median spend $0.33 per $1,000 revenue, while those in the 25th percentile spend $0.17 or less." – Perry D. Wiggins, CPA, writing for CFO

Even a Small Gesture Pays Dividends in Loyalty

The CFO article goes on to add that even a small increase to benefits and rewards goes a long way, and there are plenty of more minor gestures that mean a great deal to employees during a difficult time. APQC expert Lisa Ryan adds,

"The precedent that you are setting right now with your employees may determine their future loyalty to you when this is over. Are you creating an environment that they want to stay in or the kind that makes them want to leave? [...] Showing care for your employees to the extent that you are able is one of the best ways to create the kind of environment that employees are proud to call home."

It Doesn’t Even Have to Be Monetary

Depending on how much you have in your coffers, you may not be able to spend on new rewards. While yes, increased benefits can go a long way, being able to show that you have your employees’ backs may work as well. In fact, as discussed in a Rework blog, Jeff Miller, chief learning officer & VP, organizational effectiveness at Cornerstone, said that there are ways to build engagement and motivation outside of providing monetary benefits.

Citing Daniel Pink’s Ted Talk, Miller highlights three takeaways, most notably the following:

  • The Mismatch Between Psychology and Business – According to Pink, social psychologists have proven incentive-based rewards not only fail to inspire but can also dull thinking and block creativity.
  • Three Elements of Motivation – Scientists who study motivation have found these three elements are key to motivate people intrinsically: 1) People want more autonomy. 2) They want to master their craft. 3) They want to be part of something bigger. Ask how you can deliver.
  • Traditional Management Drives Compliance; Self-Direction is Key to Engagement – In today's "always-on" world of work, employers often struggle to find the best way to engage their employees. Pink explains that providing employees with autonomy can inspire more personal investment in the work.

Self-direction, mastery and a demonstrated connection between employee growth and company success are three things that can be addressed by our next motivator—optional training.

Optional Training: Connect Mastery with Self-Direction

Employees want to grow, and they want to feel like their employers stand behind them. Stagnation can kill careers, demoralize your workforce, and hold back your company. Growth requires change—and change requires employees to understand how they can do it.

Employees want to learn. According to LinkedIn, employees are spending 130 percent more time learning, and this can do a lot to match the skills gap—with nearly two-thirds of learning and development pros noting that reskilling the current workforce to fill skills gaps is more of a priority than ever before.

While mandatory training should be part of your business strategy, optional training takes a different approach—connecting personal and professional growth. Self-directed and designed to encourage mastery and diversity, employing optional learning initiatives can reinforce your commitment to your staff—often with little cost.

Cornerstone Cares: A Free Platform to Encourage Growth

There are many free resources available to help encourage mastery and growth. But one learning platform you may have missed is the learning platform developed by the leaders in learning—Cornerstone.

In response to current events and to support our community, Cornerstone launched a free online public learning platform where you can access essential training anytime, anywhere. Cornerstone Cares is just one way to help leaders and staff focus on personal and professional growth.

Delivering timely, essential training resources, Cornerstone Cares features online courses designed to help you protect yourself and others from the coronavirus, practice self-care to manage the stress and isolation of quarantine, stay productive while working from home and mitigate or eliminate unconscious biases.

Allowances and Subscriptions: Benefits in the Remote Era

Though money may be tight, there are many affordable ways to connect with your employees when working from home. You have to rethink the perks you used to offer, like lunches, on-site gym memberships and telecommuting, which used to be a perk in its own right before it became mandatory.

Reevaluating the Usefulness of Pre-Pandemic Perks

As noted by Recruiting Daily, employers and HR leaders need to "reassess all benefits initiatives to ensure they still serve their purpose in a remote-first world. Benefits and rewards should reflect the values of an organization as well as speak to the majority of people who work at the company."

The 2020 Global Workforce Revolution Report showed that many employees are looking for support even after the pandemic, with 81 percent of respondents indicating that they would move if they could do so without affecting their work prospects.

From health and wellness to expanded support for remote workers, the most important benefit continues to be access to healthcare (48 percent). Additionally, 38 percent of employees want their company to offer a home office allowance, and 38 percent also want personal development plans or learning development allowances.

Supporting Continued Use of the Home Office

Employees are often paying out of pocket to provide things they normally received in an office environment. Consider whether additional stipends could be offered to keep up with printer maintenance, paper supplies, and even home WiFi and energy bills.

Tie Perks to Company Values

But regardless of how you approach your perks, make sure these align with company values. Being able to ask yourself who you are as an employer will drive change. An employer that focuses on empowerment will offer virtual learning opportunities, while another that focuses on creativity will do whatever they can to stoke creative flames. However you approach aligning perks and values, it pays to find affordable and engaging ways to connect with your staff.

Cornerstone and Educe: Learning, Thriving, and Performing

Performance Management has always been a challenge. But with the recent events, many have risen to this challenge.

But much like the transition to work in the new normal, the landscape for operating in it will require the right tools, tactics, and processes to get where you want to be. If you’re looking to put your business in a position for long-term success, Cornerstone and the Educe Group can help. By relying on a leading service provider to implement one of the world’s most powerful talent management platforms, you can empower your users and make the most of your Cornerstone investment.

As a Cornerstone partner for over five years, Educe helps organizations at every level better understand and fully leverage Cornerstone’s powerful talent management capabilities.

To keep learning more about motivating people at work, watch this video of Stacie Grasberger, associate at The Educe Group, and Hendrik Thomas, senior product manager at Cornerstone, discussing how you can address career development in your workplace.

Contact us to learn more about how Educe can help you make the most of your Cornerstone investment.

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