How to Enhance Employee Motivation

Instilling employee motivation cannot be done in isolation and far too often the relationship between motivation in the workplace and company culture is trivialized.

Arguably, it is the less tangible aspect of company culture (the shared assumptions, norms and concerns of the people) that has a greater influence on employee motivation more so than the structures, systems and processes of the organisation. Laloux (2014) simply defines company culture as “how things get done, without people having to think about it.”

Weak or absent elements of company culture can negatively impact the two predominant factors that motivate people in the workplace. These factors are Intrinsic (Knowledge, growth, achievements, appreciation) and Extrinsic (salary, safety, promotion, environment). A research conducted by Mcgregor and Doshi (2015) measured employee motivation a scale of -100 to 100 and assessed how different elements affected that score. The results indicated that Intrinsic factors had a greater influence on employee motivation in the workplace. Thus comparing to traditional beliefs that extrinsic factors drive motivation in the workplace.

It found that companies who invested in Intrinsic factors, specifically, elements of community, role design, career progression and organistional identity; scored higher in employee motivation compared to those companies which placed little emphasis or omitted these elements from their culture. For example: A culture of poor career progression can decrease motivation by 20% while accommodating an excellent career ladder can increase employee motivation by 45%. These findings contrast with the extrinsic factors measured, which include elements of performance review and compensation that have a significantly lower impact on employee motivation even when it was invested in by companies.

It is evident that how well we work is a direct result of why we work. Companies that acknowledge its employees desire for self-development and invest in a culture that nurtures the individual will in turn increase employee motivation, job satisfaction, performance, employee retention amongst others.

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Laloux, F (2014). Reinventing organizations . Belgium: Nelson Parker. 225th

McGregor, L & Doshi N. (2015). How Company Culture Shapes Employee Motivation.  Available: https://hbr.org/2015/11/how-company-culture-shapes-employee-motivation. Last accessed 3rd June 2018.


Expressing Emotions in the Workplace

The ability to effectively express emotions is a desirable skill in today’s workplace. Communicating openly and concisely leaves little space for misunderstanding and presents opportunity for ripe creativity and productivity.

Recent studies show that organisations that fail to promote an environment where employees can openly express emotions, are hindering their employee’s productivity, creativity and performance. This negligence is in turn costing the organisation. The time of “the workplace is no place for expressing emotions” is gone by the way side, replaced with acceptance that suppressing emotions does not lessen the problem, rather leaving it fester until it eventually comes out in ways that will negatively affect performance, productivity and relationships.

A study conducted by the Robert H. Smith School of Business, assessed teams from a range of sectors and found that organisations that practiced a culture which encouraged its employees to express their emotions scored higher in relationship performance, productivity, creativity and reliability compared with those organisations that omitted this soft skill in practice. The study also found that leaders and managers played a significant role in embedding this culture.

Developing a work environment where people can express their emotions freely and constructively isn’t easy. Especially considering that it is human nature to do just the opposite and avoid emotionally charged conflicts. As mentioned in a previous blog, managing disputes between employees and addressing performance issues is a manager’s least favourite task.

Implementing this culture of expressing emotions in conversation must begin with management. By investing in the upskilling of management teams on how to properly and effectively express emotions in the workplace, you create a model for employees to follow.

The benefits of upskilling your ability to constructively express emotions are:

It nips the problem at the bud
Having an emotionally expressive conversation with an employee or a manager is far preferable to letting it fester and turn into a negative emotionally charged conflict. By expressing feelings in the workplace in a timely, effective, and work-appropriate manner can help you identify and resolve conflicts while they are still manageable.

Increases empathy
Empathy drives connection. By expressing your feelings, in a work appropriate way, you can raise the amount of empathy that your employees feel for you by making it easier for them to understand why you feel that way. Communicating emotions to colleagues can improve both communication to and from employees and management, and it can also help build stronger relationships between team members.

Invites understanding
Employees who understand why decisions are being made are much more likely to agree with and respect those decisions. Walking your employees through not just the rational, but the emotional reasons behind a decision can go a long way to bringing them on board with that decision.

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If you can not do it, you can not improve it: The cost of unproductive conflict

Conflict is recognised as an inevitable aspect of every workplace, yet the impact it has on the workplace is measured. As conflict is not systematically measured like absenteeism, sick leave, performance etc., the impact it has on the organizational productivity and bottom line is often overlooked or underestimated.

Over the past 15 years‘, numerous studies have been conducted that measure the impact of functional and dysfunctional conflict on the personnel, the team and the organization. 65% of performance problems. 30% of their time managing conflict and doing so.

Notably, not all conflict is unproductive. Effectively managed conflict encourages; creating solutions, clarification and perspective taking. According to Daniel Dana, unmanaged employee conflict is perhaps the largest reducible cost in organizations today- and probably the least recognised „. In his study on the Financial Cost of Conflict he measures eight conflict costs did affect the organizations productivity:

Wasted time
Reduced decision quality
Loss of skilled employees
sabotage / theft / damage
Lowered job motivation
Lost worktime
Health costs 

Remarkably, time wasted by the person (s) affected by unproductive or poorly handled conflict accounts for over 50% of lost productivity time. Examples of ‚time wasted‘ include; absenteeism, worrying about the conflict, avoiding the other person, complaining to other colleagues. Using Dana’s online ‚calculator‘ tool clients can quantify the cost of unproductive time spent on their organization.

The Online Conflict Cost Calculator is the Online Conflict Cost Calculator . Developed by Oliver Ahern and a team of experts in Stuttgart, this tool successfully measures the impact of conflict and gives a breakdown of its costs.

Both Dana and Ahern’s online tools can be used to improve organizational training and management systems. Firstly to identify the benchmark and get a snapshot of existing conflicts and again during or after the change and impact. We encourage our clients to implement these conflict assessments into existing HR systems.

If you can not do it, you can not improve it.

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Managing Conflict with a Colleague

“I don’t know what it is, but there is just something about them that really pushes my buttons…”.
This is not an uncommon feeling for employees or team members. The workplace can be a unique environment filled with diverse people, energies and behaviours. If you are fortunate you can tolerate these differences, to a point, or you have the flexibility to ensure minimal contact with him or her on a daily basis.

This feeling of unrest with certain colleagues seems to resonates with numerous people in the workplace, yet so many employees simply choose to accept it as a part of working life. Avoiding or leaving your indifferences to fester does not resolve the differences, rather it just delays the conflict or results in an alternative action to be taken.

Here are five ways that can help you constructively prevent or deescalate any conflict with a colleague:

Reach Out – Confronting problems can be painful. To willingly confront an issue early, before we are forced to confront it by circumstances, means to put aside something pleasant or less painful for something more painful.

Be Self-Aware – Recognise your hot buttons (ie the behaviour or actions or inactions of another that frustrates you). When you are aware of what triggers you, you can modify your initial thoughts or reaction to a controlled response.

Take Perspective – Is he / she aware that their behaviour is affecting you and your productivity? Is there a reason why they are doing it? Can it be easily changed once communicated?

Communicate the problem by constructively expressing your thoughts and emotions – Choose your words carefully, be specific, clarify and solicit their understanding.

Create solutions – Treat the issue as a puzzle that two sides are working together to solve.

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