DURING PERIODS of economic uncertainty, it’s perhaps more important than ever to ensure you have a motivated workforce. But in times of austerity, maintaining morale can become a secondary objective. It should be a top priority, and it is one that can be achieved quite easily. The alternative is a vulnerable workforce, which can have negative effects on your business. In sectors where large proportions of staff are rewarded through commission structures, it is important that support staff in particular are kept motivated. So how can you ensure all non-incentivised employees are motivated, so they can have a real impact on the bottom line?
Ask yourself if you have the right people in your team. An obvious statement, but many attempts to motivate staff fail due to the late realisation that a business has the wrong employees on board. This issue is very relevant in the recruitment industry where the majority of staff are fee earners and are hired based on their motivation to secure lucrative commission packages. When employees are not motivated in this way, you need to ensure these individuals are not only highly skilled in their field, but can also be motivated by other means.
It is perhaps even more important to remember that these members of staff will have to be comfortable working alongside colleagues who are motivated through cash incentives. In my remit as CFO at Venn Group, we hire our back-office staff in part on the basis of our mission statement: “To provide a first-class support staff service function based on high standards and efficient working practices, to develop stars of the future.” Ensuring potential hires are committed to this goal has resulted in successful and long-term placements.
Ensuring that your support team is engaging with all stakeholders on a regular basis is also wise. They may not sit in the same part of the office as other departments, but they still need to feel part of the overall business. Try to find ways to encourage participation: monthly presentations are a great initiative to get an organisation together to illustrate what has been achieved. This will encourage company-wide interaction, and it is also a chance for all employees to understand the workings of all functions. Consider rewarding employees that present particularly well, or in a very creative way. Getting the whole business together often will instil a sense of belonging and collaboration, which are both great motivators.
What other steps can you take to motivate support staff? Introduce KPIs and ensure that, as for front-line sales staff, the achievement of those KPIs is celebrated. Could you offer theatre tickets or gift vouchers? In the staffing sector, it is common to have meetings on the trading floor to assess how the team is doing, and reward high achievers. Make sure all staff are present so all achievers are commended together. This offers incentives to perform well, which is important for support staff who are not measured on the amount of revenue they generate. Taking staff out of their comfort zones – a scenario with which back-office staff are not always faced – will act as a driving force for them to reach the top of their game.
Finally, ensure all communications are sent to every employee, regardless of whether they are directly affected. This will ensure everyone is kept abreast of recent developments and will make them feel part of the company. The last thing you want is for certain teams to think they are kept out of the loop.
Organisations are certainly feeling the effects of the economic climate. And while the outlook may be unclear, motivating your employees should be at the top of your agenda. Taking steps to have a motivated and productive workforce will do wonders for your business.
Keith Wilmott is CFO at Venn Group
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