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Motivating Without Money

Motivating Without Money

By Matthew Boyle | BusinessWeek

Some managers may feel that unmotivated employees are not a huge problem. After all, where are they going to go in this crummy job market? But such an attitude is short-sighted, says Jeff Summer, who leads the U.S. talent management practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). “[The best] employees are still in high demand, so if their organization is not motivating them, they’re moving,” he says. The challenge, then, is not only to get them to stay, but to shine.

Summers recounts a recent call from a client in the technology industry. The company had conducted a layoff, and soon afterward it lost three employees it had wanted to keep because managers, absorbed in the layoff process, did not effectively communicate to those who remained how they would move forward. “When you lay people off in a recession, those who are left behind have to be more engaged than ever to pull you out of it,” says Chester Elton, co-author of The Carrot Principle, which details how companies like PepsiCo (PEP) and Quest Diagnostics (DGX) use formal recognition programs to keep employees engaged.

Middle Managers Must Lead

At times like this, remember that “CEO” does not stand for chief engagement officer. He or she is too busy figuring out how to keep the company afloat to do much more than transmit a companywide e-mail or Webcast. The responsibility for this falls upon middle managers, whose words and behaviors, studies show, have the most impact on employee engagement (or disengagement.) “Creating a resilient workplace that can deal with trauma and come out engaged on the other end is not a senior executive’s role,” says Tom Davenport, a principal at Towers Perrin. “It’s a line manager’s job.”

“What matters is understanding what matters to them,” adds Summers. “It’s almost like you have to re-recruit your talent.”