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What Employees Want

for a moment, that when you go into work next you could hear the thoughts of every single employee in the office. You would know exactly how they feel about their job, their current assignment, and the joke you told to kick off that meeting. You would also learn something much more important. Why they show up to work every day, and what, if any resentments they have about their job.

Traditionally, companies and organizations have incentivized performance through money. The better you perform, the more you are supposed to get paid. Yet not every employee is motivated by money – and thank goodness. You would find yourself in bidding wars for top employees constantly if money were the only thing that mattered, and many innovative startups or nonprofits would not be able to get by.

Research shows that while money motivates some people, it can actually go against the values of someone else – a person who perhaps wants the world to be more harmonious or finds meaning by creating a more just world for example.  We all have a unique combination of values that motivate us to perform, and no two of your employees – much less all of them – will be motivated by the same thing.

So what is the business owner or executive to do? How can you motivate employees to perform if everyone has a different motivation for working at their best? One size fits all policies won’t work and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to manage a different incentive program for each individual.

The key is linking the drivers of your employees behaviors and the values they represent to the fundamental mission and purpose of your organization. And it’s impossible to do that unless you have a mission and vision for the company that has been widely shared and is well known -so well known that when people speak about your company these values and meanings have become entwined with your brand.

Think about some major brands out there and the type of people they attract. Design lovers may gravitate toward Apple, altruistic thinkers will lean toward work in major nonprofits like Feeding America or Doctors Without Borders. People who believe that rules really matter may want to join the IRS or some branch of law enforcement.

So what is it about your brand that makes people want to come work for you? Start by understanding the foundation of your organization and you can begin to not only attract the best hires for your business, you can motivate them to perform at peak levels every day.

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