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Talking Point: Motivational talk

James Taylor, director at recruitment firm Macildowie, says that the downturn has led to staff being more motivated, not less.

The past few years have been somewhat of a rollercoaster when it comes to workforce motivation. A mistake that many have made is to assume that the recession caused a lack of motivation amongst staff, but I’d actually suggest that the tough economic period had the opposite impact.

Cuts across the board, resulted in a dramatic decline in the number of available positions. This meant that people became a lot more grateful to have a job and were motivated to fulfil that role to the best of their ability in order to hang on to it.

However, the reduction in staffing levels meant that those who survived were often asked to take on duties from other roles. Sometimes these were tasks that had previously been performed in a more junior role and people found themselves practically doing the work of two members of staff, all for the same, and occasionally, less money.

Now that things have slowly started to look more secure, that initial motivation is waning for those members of staff who feel that their efforts haven’t been recognised. This is why we’re now seeing greater movement in the jobs market and this is why business owners and HR managers need to ensure that their motivational efforts are maximised.

A lack of motivation is often far too quickly attributed to the tangible issues of salary and benefits. Money’s regularly seen as a prime motivator, but I believe that other, less obvious, factors play a much greater role in the de-motivation of a workforce.

Having spent the past 14 years in the recruitment sector, I’ve interviewed hundreds of people searching for a new job and, in many cases, a whole new career. A significant number of those who come to us have experienced a lack of motivation in their current role and this is normally the result of taking decisions based on one, or a combination of, the following macro factors:

• The feeling that there’s nothing left to learn in their current role and that, going forwards, it would be a flatline situation rather than continual development.

• A lack of engagement with the job and with the brand as a whole.

• A general lack of excitement and passion for the current position.

These are the key motivational aspects of work. If an individual feels that there’s no chance of progression and feels undervalued and unappreciated, they’ll look elsewhere. It’s something we’ve seen time and time again.

Remuneration and benefits packages are really by-products of the above motivators. They are the micro decisions and factors that stem from career development, engagement and passion for the job.

Those companies that have used the recession to focus on talent development, who’ve provided training and shown individuals that they’re willing to help them learn, improve and enhance their careers with the company, are the ones that have come out of this with highly motivated teams still intact. These are the companies that are now in a strong position to go forwards and make gains in their individual sectors.

Whilst there are many who get it wrong when it comes to staff motivation, there are others who make it a priority, and Lloydspharmacy is a great example of the latter.

The senior management team makes a point of holding regular ‘people days’, where time is spent discussing ways to keep employees motivated. One technique that works particularly well is the way they handle each individual’s learning process. Once a particular learning cycle is complete, the management team looks at moving that individual to another part of the company to keep things fresh and challenging. It’s this kind of approach and focus on talent development that helps to keep motivation levels at a maximum.

I can’t help but think that as these companies push forwards, others will be left behind, wishing that they’d used the down period to their advantage and continued to look to the future rather than getting too overwhelmed by the present.


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