“Treat people not how you want to be treated, but how they want to be treated.” Are you rewarding staff in the wrong way? What people ACTUALLY want

So you think you’re doing all of the right things. 

You pay your staff really well. You provide an office space that is light and airy, with generous unlimited coffees and amenities. You provide more than enough flexibility (especially since COVID) to work from home, and you make sure you carve out time each week to connect with each of your team members and listen to their concerns, progress and challenges. 

But, you’re taken back when a high performing team member hands in his resignation out of the blue, that has left you completely blindsided. 

When you gently enquire about what his reasons were, he mentions that although he greatly appreciates his time with the business, and there certainly wasn’t anything inherently wrong, there were some ‘small things’ a competitor business were able to offer him which he couldn’t refuse. 

It’s these ‘small things’ that add up and if you question your team about what they actually want, is it on par with what you had assumed? 

There are four key areas in motivating your team:

  1. Understanding what motivates each individual team member
  2. Understanding your ‘real’ workplace culture and environment
  3. Understanding areas you want to reward
  4. Understanding areas you want to recognise

What leaders and business owners think people want: pay increases / money and flexible working.

What people actually want 

1. Health and Wellbeing 

Free flu shots, gym memberships, ergonomic office spaces and EAP programs — these are just a few of the types of health and wellbeing incentives that staff find beneficial, especially when you have an organisation that employs a type of person that deeply values health. 

2. Purpose

Do your staff feel like they have a driving purpose at work and their work matters? Does their work purpose directly connect to their personal values and drivers? 

3. Power or involvement

Does a person’s role empower them to make decisions and take control over their work, their process and business outcomes? Does it provide exposure to key decision makers and enable them to fulfil their role with autonomy?

4. Career Progression

If a person cannot see a roadmap or a clear pathway to where they might be in five years, ten years and beyond, they are at risk of finding somewhere else where there is one. Can a person envision what their role would look like down the track, and is it inspiring and motivating? Or does it look like the exact same role and responsibilities with limited growth? 

5. Flexibility

In 2023, flexibility is almost considered a mandatory minimum requirement for attracting high calibre talent. However, we are now finding the other side of the coin to be revealed, of providing too much flexibility with limited structure or leadership. This can be challenging for an employee too. 

6. Public / Team Recognition

People like to know they are doing a good job, and to be acknowledged for their contributions. Whether this is done publicly or in private, will depend on the individual. 

7. Environment 

It is no secret that our environment influences everything from our wellbeing, to productivity, to a sense of belonging. The aesthetics of an office and the type of environment can greatly influence a person’s satisfaction at work. People’s preferences will vary from person to person. 

Is your office space clean, provides adequate natural light, opportunities for people to make their office space their own, and ample space to meeting rooms and privacy? 

8. Training, education, coaching & mentoring

Having ongoing training opportunities and chances for growth, mentorship and educational advancement is often highly desired. 

9. Time off & annual leave conditions

Whether it’s extra annual leave or flexibility in how those leave hours are taken, being able to take time off easily for family reasons, personal time or break for a couple of weeks can be high in priority for people. Being able to steep away from work to come back refreshed has ample benefits. 

10. Safety / Security

Knowing their job isn’t going anywhere, and they are safe in their role can be highly motivating for particular individuals. The opposite can be detrimental to a person’s sense of security and motivation, if they feel their job is unstable or constantly under scrutiny.

11. Organisational values

What the organisation stands for and a connection to personal values is important to many when choosing a job or employer of choice. What charitable organisations do you support, or is there an opportunity to provide volunteering hours at a chosen charity? 

12. Collegiate, supportive, high performing team

High performers need to be around other high performers. If a team isn’t supportive, cohesive or there is a gap in performance and attitude, this can drive people away.

Do you want to learn more about rewarding and incentivising your team? The Management Essentials self paced course for managers is a 6 week immersive experience designed to help you build the skills and confidence to be a powerful communicator and influential leader. Find out more here