Employee motivation is an important element in the realization of organizational goals. From this understanding, employee motivation is deemed an important element for managers and supervisors in the effective running of organizations because from a broad perspective, it reflects on the quality of their leadership. There are many ways through which managers motivate their employees but research studies affirm that employee motivation is not easily achieved by managers, but rather attained through the creation of a conducive working environment (Thompson, 2005, p. 43).
Employee motivation is an important managerial tool because it helps employees transcend from their present day needs to focus on effectively carrying out their organizational duties. Management trainee (2011) reiterates that “Employees need to feel safe, both physically and personally in their ability to meet their needs in the future. They need to belong to a group, so creating a strong team environment is important” (p. 1). However, it is essential to realize that many managers have differed on the most effective strategies to use in motivating their employees because some note that taking conventional methods like offering incentives as the most productive ways of attaining high levels of employee motivation while others say that taking a more proactive approach of improving human interaction is most effective (Management trainee, 2011). Both groups of strategies have been noted to work. However, this study will be skewed towards establishing appropriate human interaction strategies that can be used by managers and supervisors to improve employee motivation.
Sponsoring a Competition
Depending on the type of organization a manager operates in; research points out that it always pays to acknowledge the contribution of an employee in a humane manner (Hamilton, 2007, p. 40). There is no better way to do this than through sponsoring a competition where employees take part in a given competitive activity that’ll recognize their contribution in a given work platform. This strategy is effective because research affirms that employees are usually competitive in nature and many would often take up the challenge to compete among themselves (Cantrell, 2010, p. 140). Sponsoring competition is advantageous to managers because they can tailor such events in any given manner to be in line with the organizational goals; alternatively, such events can be strictly used as recreational activities. For instance, Carson (2008, p. 96) explains that managers can design a sales competition, say, among a group of marketers (organized in teams) and the team with the highest sales receives an award. Alternatively, a manager can organize a football match, pitting two sales teams against each other and the winner gets to walk home with a trophy. Both scenarios are aimed at improving employee motivation, but on one hand, the latter is tailored as a relaxation activity which takes employees away from their normal work environments and on the other hand, the former is a competition that works in the traditional work environment where employees get to benefit by competing for an award. In this case, management gains by increasing their sales.
The second scenario explains an advantage competition brings to the organization because they are easy to organize and most often, suit the needs of employees as well as management (Allen, 2010, p. 50). Whichever scenario an organization adopts, both strategies act as important motivation tools. However, Halas (2002) notes that it is important to set a time frame, a given date and a prize at the end of each competition to make such competitions worth employees’ time.
Human beings are usually social beings and a majority of them always appreciate good commendation especially from their managers. Halas (2002) reiterates that “Some staff members yearn for human recognition or verbal interaction on the job. Pausing to offer a few words of encouragement or gratitude can truly make some people’s day” (p. 3). It is therefore important for managers and supervisor to understand that giving a simple commendation like saying “thank you” or “well done” always goes a long way in improving the motivational level of employees (Garber, 2004, p. 80). Moreover, in a diverse workforce this motivational strategy works across all levels of employees because the strategy has been proved to work on people from all age groups, and across all genders (Garber, 2004, p. 80). This strategy is therefore very useful for most managers (even those who are new to the managerial discipline) because researchers note that it works universally and its success rate is equally to write home about (Beel, 2007, p. 23).
Hosting and Awards Ceremony Celebration
Many researchers have noted that the weakness of most managers (with the intention of boosting employee motivational levels) rests in the fact that such managers often offer commendation to employees and fail to recognize such efforts on an organizational level (Allen, 2007, 49). In other words, most managers acknowledge the need to commend their employees of their good performance but as Halas (2002) notes; these effort needs to go beyond that. Hosting an awards ceremony for example, is a good platform identified by some researchers as a good basis for recognizing employee contribution in the organization (Allen, 2007, p. 49). Making it an annual event is even better, considering employees would be basically looking forward to such events.
There are many ways through which an organization can organize such annual awards ceremonies. First of all, an organization can organize the ceremony by centering it on a workday meal or dinner. Alternatively, an organization can organize a “high tea” event or a golfing outing over a non-working day where employees attend the event without really feeling constrained by the usual work environment. On a bolder platform, management can issue a press release where outstanding employees are acknowledged, but in a more traditional manner, management can organize a nice table setting, in a serene location, where employees would feel very nicely accommodated. Nonetheless, it is important to note that that the entire managerial team ought to be in attendance so that the employees feel like they are really committed to such initiatives. This also adds a more humane aspect to the whole motivational initiative; otherwise, it would be nothing more than a public relations exercise.
Research studies done by proponents of the human relations theory (in employee motivation) note that improving the openness of communication between employees and management is a good strategy to boost employee morale (Henderson, 1996, p. 29). In a nutshell, this is done by simplifying the communication channel between top-level and bottom level employees (Vallabhaneni, 2009, p. 21). In other words, management should often consult with their employees on issues regarding important functional areas of the organization, including the decision-making process or by opening up the communication channel where employees are able to give feedback to management on whatever important areas they feel the need to be improved.
Often, top-bottom employee communication channels are identified by many researchers as a barrier to improving open communication between employees and management (Bruce, 1998, p. 63). In its place, it is important to establish a bottom-top communication channel where employees are consulted (almost all the times) regarding important managerial issues that affect them (such that, they feel like part of the entire organizational team) (Bruce, 1998, p. 63).
Initiate Group Working
An initiation of group working as a strategy to motivate employees was first proposed by Elton Mayo (cited in Tutor2u, 2011, p. 5) who identified that employees are not only motivated by material incentives but rather by a strong human touch. From this observation, he proposed a number of strategies managers could use as human involvement strategies to motivate employees and one of them was group working. Group working improves the level of employee involvement if properly implemented, and employees are bound to feel less pressure in performance because responsibility is spread across group members (Folsom, 2004, p. 157).
In this regard, it is important to note that the potential of employees attaining high levels of motivation in a group setting is tremendously high, especially if the tasks to be accomplished are quite sophisticated. Moreover, employee personalities can blend well in a team set up and they are equally bound to feel their roles and duties are well complimented by team members (Özbilgin, 2010). This can also act as a good strategy of improving organizational production.
Employee motivation is an important element in the smooth running of organizations. This study emphasizes on human relations as an important aspect of employee motivation and notes that employees are not only motivated by material incentives but also by the human element as a unique incentive. Managers should therefore ensure they take part in motivating their employees at a personal level, by first adopting the above strategies. The dynamics pointed out in this study are the most appropriate human relational motivational strategies.
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