Yesterday was the UK’s first official Employee Motivation Day, set up by Argos for Business to spread appreciation throughout the country’s workforce. Whilst cynics are likely to deem it superficial, the more forward-thinking will embrace it as an opportunity to discuss the wider issue of productivity and, by extension, the UK economy.
Last year, the Office for National Statistics announced a slight increase in the output per hour of UK workers but warned that productivity was still weak, and lower than in other developed countries such as Germany and the USA.
Motivation has a big role to play in employee productivity, boosting energy and stimulating people’s desire to perform well in their role, but what should UK businesses take into account when trying to inspire their teams?
“All too often people associate motivation with monetary reward,” argues Lawrence Jones MBE, chief executive of technology firm UKFast. “Yes, it’s a great gift when someone achieves a target, but it won’t necessarily drive them day in, day out. If you look at when people become demotivated and disengaged, more often than not it’s when they feel like they’re stagnating.
“In life, as in nature, you’re either growing or you’re dying. So if you want to keep your employees motivated you have to contribute to their continued development and challenge them to step up their game.”
UKFast is an interesting example of how continued professional and personal development can be used to motivate people. The company has its own training and development department, headed up by former teachers Aaron Saxton and Arlene Bulfin.
“Having a national Employee Motivation Day is a real positive,” claims Saxton. “It’s about sharing some of the great ideas and strategies businesses in the UK are using. If we want to drive the UK’s economy forward, we need to share best practices.
“For us, training and development plays an important role. Education and learning shouldn’t stop when you leave school – it’s a journey not a destination”
The moment people join UKFast, they immediately embark on a curriculum to help them learn about the company, its products and services, and its core values. Bulfin explains, “We try to talk to new employees about their career pathway very early on. It’s about finding out where someone has been, where they are now, and where they want to go in the future. Once we know these things, we can help them by looking at training and different exam certifications.
“Enabling someone to grow and develop and helping them set and achieve goals really motivates people. Knowing that your employer cares about your personal and professional development is so important. People who feel valued are much more motivated and therefore much more productive than those who don’t.”