Non-Financial Motivators

As HR Manager in a fresh company (by fresh I also mean new subsidiary of a larger one) your main job besides monitoring the market and drowning your managers in reports is thinking really really hard about how to motivate the company's employees. Simple as it may seem, it's a huge task if your budgets don't include salary increases and bonuses as often as the people may like and also if your managers keep shouting "Mind the costs, please!. We are planning to be a profitable company, not a non-profit humanitarian organization."

What can you do then? Well, put your thinking caps on, start reading HR books, browse HR websites and contact your fellow HR friends in need. Ideas will surely pop-up. Here are a few from my side:

  • Thorough recruitment process - start from the beginning; verify candidates' motivation to make sure you have no surprises later on; how can you verify that? ask them what they know about the company, about the position, where they have seen the job posting, how they have prepared for the interview, what are their short term future plans concerning career development; if they have no idea about the position, the company and they are just desperate for the job or want to be promoted in 4 months, forget about it. They don't want your company or your position. One more thing, don't conceal any information when making the offer - tell the candidates all about the salary, the benefits, about the difficulties they will encounter, about shifts, any contract clauses - you don't want them to find out one month after they are hired. They will quit and you will start recruitment all over again. Better avoid that and hire a candidate that is prepared and willing to accept all the conditions.
  • Detailed training plan for each new joiner - this means the best Induction you can think of and then a clear training path later on. By Induction I mean details about the company, the position, Human Resources procedures that might affect or help them, the team, the manager, job description, personal objectives. A proper induction can take even up to a week leaving the employee confident about coming to work and knowing where to go to get details or have a problem solved. Then, personal training plan can be discussed with HR and with the employee's manager allowing the employee to select a certain career path in the company and having all the instruments he/she needs to achieve that. 
  • Proper information channels - an engaged employee is an informed one; an employee who knows nothing about the company doesn't care too much about its status. Make sure employees receive enough information about company results, company plans, clients, perspectives. Knowing the big pictures allows each employee to understand his/her role in the business. Displaying an org chart for the employee to actually see their place is also useful to keep them informed. This way they also find out the structure of the organization and can imagine their future career path.
  • Proper communication between manager and employee, between top management and employees and between colleagues and teams; employees need to feel like part of the whole and need to understand what's going on around them. If they can be involved in decisions affecting their work or at least consulted, even better. Channels you can use for communication: regular newsletters, short emails from time to time, larger scale meetings where all employees are allowed to come and meet the managers, scheduled meetings with top management allowing each employee to speak directly to the "big boss", printed bulletins and reports, company intranet with plenty of news, internal boards with printed materials displayed, employees being invited to other company subsidiaries to meet other teams and exchange information.
  • Support offered - make sure each employee has someone to rely on at first - at least for a while. A Buddy program which includes connecting an old employee with a new one who can go to the first with various issues anytime can facilitate proper integration in the company.
  • Regular performance evaluation -  each employee needs to know what their job is, what their objectives are and how they've done throughout the year; two meetings each year are OK. Employees need to know when they have done a good job and also what's there to improve; rewards like salary increases or bonuses can be added, but we're discussing non-financial motivators, so I'll skip that. Simply telling the employee how they are doing makes them feel appreciated and allows them to know that someone cares about their job. 
  •  Internal promotions - making sure that as many positions as possible are covered from the inside; making sure that employees are involved in trainings that prepare them for that; making sure that all open positions are published internally first and that the recruitment process is fair and transparent.
  • Fair recruitment process for external candidates that are being recommended bu employee for the job - hiring someone's friend or family is OK but only if they pass the same recruitment process like everyone else and they get the position in a fair manner. Employees need to trust HR and management.
  • Work environment - try to make sure as managers and as HR representatives that employees have all they need to perform a good job; if the company can't afford all that, at least make sure that you show the employees that you have done your best. Listen to them, encourage them, talk to them first and try to avoid disciplinary actions and any other negative motivators unless absolutely necessary. Try to make the environment as pleasant and open as possible. A dictatorship doesn't work for most employees.Terror and intimidation as well.
  • Allow employees to have time for their families and personal life. You need balanced individuals in your company not robots. Only balanced and happy individuals have an open mind and not only perform a good job, but are also open to innovation.
  • Facilitate good communication between departments - allow employees to know each other, team buildings are not always expensive, but can do wonders. Also, employees working together from different locations work better if they have seen each other at least once. You don't need each department to work perfectly separately, but your entire company as a whole to achieve great performance.
  • Encourage employees to be task oriented not time schedule oriented. Where possible, allow those who are efficient and finish their job (well done of course) go home earlier.
  • Remote work - where possible allow employees to work remotely from time to time - this increases engagement because employees get time for themselves and can solve family matters in the mean time (mothers who don't have a babysitter available can work from home for a few days); also, they save money on transportation to work.
  • Always reward results - not necessarily with bonuses. There are a lot of ancient methods that still work - employee of the month board, public congratulations during a meeting with the entire team, a day off, asking the good employee to train others, etc.
Here are just a few items that we have implemented in the company where I work.
Any new ideas from your side are welcome. Please post them as comments.

Kind Regards,