Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Motivating Employees Without Money

So... you own a business in a very competitive field - say, software - and find that the only way to motivate and keep good employees is through money. Or, you're a manager in a big corporation, your budgets have been frozen and external competition is fierce for your staff. The problem is, you really can't raise salaries much higher (if at all).

What are your options?

It is important to remember that we all work for a variety of reasons, money being but one of them. Your job as an entrepreneur or a line manager is to realize what other things motivate your employees and tap into those.

Often, what people want out of work depends upon how old they are; twenty-somethings and people on the verge of retirement clearly want different things. If you can understand the various motivating factors, you will be able to provide incentives for a job well done, and do so without raising salaries.

Here's what to look for:

Gen Xers: Generation X, born 1964 through 1981, is a different breed of employee. Sure, they like a good salary as much as anyone, but just as important, they seek a challenging work environment where they can learn new skills.

For the most part, Generation Xers are independent and skeptical. They know that they will have many careers and jobs with different employers. As such, one of the best things you can do to motivate them is to offer skills development to increase their future marketability. So, for example, offer assignments that challenge them, and which help them learn new skills.

By the same token, ongoing training is greatly appreciated by these younger workers. Mentoring and other continuing education techniques would work well too.

Other rewards that seem to work with this group include telecommuting, gift certificates, dinners, or tickets to sporting and cultural events. Finally, remember that younger employees like to have fun and value a work-life balance. A workplace that demonstrates your support of that can go far.

Baby Boomers: Baby Boomers, born 1946 through 1964, are now middle and upper management in most workplaces, and are thinking about their family and retirement.

Many boomers are nervous about their financial future. You can help by offering financial planning, good pensions and benefits, and retirement planning.

Consider offering flexible work schedules and retirement options. Surveys have shown that nearly 80% of boomer employees would prefer a 'phased-in retirement.' Given that, consider job sharing, flextime, independence, and other similar options as ways to keep these employees loyal.

It is also important to realize that a significant challenge for many in this age-bracket is keeping up with computers and technology. Training is appreciated, as it can minimize burnout and fear.

Finally, think about offering sabbaticals. Sabbaticals are increasingly becoming a perk that many midcareer boomers desire, and can be an effective way to invigorate them.

The Greatest Generation: The so-called Greatest Generation (if there are any of us left), born 1930 through 1945, usually have conventional career paths, have worked for few employers, and have been content to move up the corporate ladder. At this point in their career, they are highly risk-averse. One of the best things you can offer them is respect for their experience and knowledge of your industry.

Employees in this category will likely work past retirement age, if you want them to, and if they are offered part-time hours and a flexible schedule.


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