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Get Employees to Work Like Owners

Digital Library > Human Resources Management > Motivation “Get Employees to Work Like Owners”

The best motivators cost little or nothing.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have employees who embrace your business as though it’s their own? Take a hint from behavioral scientists: You get more of a desired behavior as you reward it.

It’s easy to lose sight of this basic human fact. But you can actually accelerate success by rewarding and recognizing employees’ performance.

Wide Range of Choices

Rewards can run the gamut from annual awards banquets to educational opportunities, free vacations, pizza parties, picnics — and, of course, bonuses and raises. But money is not the most important element. The most effective reward is the positive attention you give people every day. Never underestimate the value of taking the time to talk with your employees, listen to their ideas, and thank them for a job well done.

To launch a reward and recognition system that will help grow your business:

  1. Link rewards with specific growth goals. Let’s say your performance objective is to "expand the customer base by improving customer service." You could create acknowledgment cards to be given to employees by management, peers or customers to reward a positive service action. These rewards have more impact if they’re shared — read aloud at staff meetings, posted on the staff bulletin board or printed in the company newsletter.
  2. Ask employees for their opinions; reward them by adapting their ideas. In some cases, giving employees what they want rather than saying, "That’s not possible," can be the magic motivator. When some entrepreneurs experience high turnover, they hire more recruiters, thinking, "We’ve got to bring in people faster." But that won’t stop the revolving door. Ask employees why they want to leave your company. Then try to give them more of whatever will entice them to stay.

    Example: In 1998, a Frito-Lay plant in Salt Lake City reduced its high turnover rate by asking employees, "If we could change something here, what would it take to make you stay?" Everyone knew the problem was related to shifts. But by asking that key question, management was able to get right to the heart of the matter: Employees weren’t finding out that they had to work on Saturday until Friday afternoon. They wanted more notice so that they could adjust their personal plans. Getting what they wanted caused turnover to drop from 40% to less than 20% — in less than two months.

  3. Encourage initiative. Employees can come up with great ideas to help grow your business — if you reward them.

    Example: Sue suggests a new market for your products. But you respond with, "Well, Sue, we don’t pay you to think about marketing" or "We tried something like that two years ago and it didn’t work." Word will quickly get around that you’re not interested in hearing ideas.

    Instead, reward creative thinking by being genuinely receptive: "Now that’s an interesting idea. Why don’t you check into it further and see what you come up with?" If the idea appears to be feasible, run with it. That’s rewarding the kind of initiative that can help your company expand.

Writer: Kathleen Conroy interviewed consultant Bob Nelson of San Diego, author of "1001 Ways to Reward Employees," Workman.

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