Motivation is Intrinsic but its Activation is Extrinsic

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Biggest challenge an HR might face in motivating employees

Let myth be broken that someone can motivate another individual. As humans, we have different needs & different aspirations and we are driven by the fact that our needs are being fulfilled in compensation to the time & resources we as employees devote to the organization. Hence, self-motivation is an essential & core element for an employee to stick through even though you have lucrative/ sub-standard policies or you have efficient/ inefficient People Managers.

I once remember, in the initial days of my career, my Boss in order to teach me a lesson didn’t approve my leave. I still remember, even though, everything was working fine for me, but that one action of my boss intimidated me so much, I lost all my attention & didn’t felt the heart in the job. But still, I managed to maintain my self-motivation because I had taken Home Loan and the company policy was such they paid 50% of the interest borne by individual on loan amount. box

Hence, as HRs, our job is to build such an environment by introducing the right rewards/ policies/ administration etc. that supersedes any negative connotation brought by not so happy employee experiences which in turn keeps the employees self-motivated.

What we need to do?

First & foremost, are we providing the right compensation that is in alignment or at par with market standards? Are we providing a clear framework on how an employee will grow whether through learning/ various career transitions? Are we building enough avenues to promote sharing of ideas/ thoughts/ concerns? And avenues are long way ahead, important is Are we promoting the right culture/ environment wherein employees do feel free to share?

Hence, there are a lot of Are we’s?

The biggest challenge as HR is to first realize the fact that there is an opportunity for improvement in everything that we do. Nothing is enough & what we practice might motivate one but might also be a reason for someone’s exit from the organization. Motivation is intrinsic but its activation is extrinsic.

And I guess that this is the biggest challenge HR face in motivating employees, i.e. Understanding each employee has different needs but still continue  to make efforts to bring all under a common umbrella, satisfying not all but at least more than 70% of the population, because, as an organization we are into the business of making money and not satisfying employees, so we have limited resources, but we cannot ignore the fact that without employees, organizations cannot grow.

How often an HR must engage with employees to drive motivation?

HR Engagement with employees is like interaction between a parent & a child. As much as a parent should be there for their child, similarly an HR needs to be there for their employees.

If we as HRs are able to demonstrate such a level of accessibility, then we would not really have to think about concerns related to driving motivation.

People have an evolving image of HR in their mind. Right from someone who is just there to fill numbers to a function performing Policing activities to an independent stand alone department partnering strategically with other departments. We have really come a long way, don’t you think so?

And I feel in this journey, we as HR professionals must have done a lot of right things that has helped build such confidence of employees on our function. Let me tell you, those right things are not only the HR philosophies/ projects we introduce but it also includes the connect that we have built with employees.

What are the ways an HR can evaluate employee motivational level?

As HRs we are not blessed like Doctors or Meteorologists who have defined instruments to measure temperature or understand weather.

Our major instrument works at the gut level, however, there are a lot of indices that help gauge where the motivation needle of the organization is shifting.

Hence, in order to measure employee motivation, we can look at below indicators:

  1. Number of absences: Has there been a sudden rise in absent days without any specific occasion/ festival during the period.
  2. Short hours: Have the employees been more frequent in taking short hours, not bothered to fill company working hours.
  3. Carelessness: Has sudden carelessness been observed in respect of delivery of projects, handling customer queries, bugs in projects, careless mistakes in execution of tasks.
  4. Antisocial behaviour: Are you observing some hostile environment, where employees are not interacting much.
  5. Unwillingness to take new projects or responsibility.

Other ways through which we can understand the atmosphere of the organization is through Organization Health Surveys, Skip level meetings, KPI results, Growth.

How does an HR motivate him/herself?

It’s quite an irony of a situation, where HR are considered the custodian of keeping the morale up & ensuring employees remains satisfied are left in a dungeon where no-one feels the ownership to make them feel wanted & concerned for.

In such circumstances, as HRs, we really need to focus on ourselves and have a level of Self-motivation which we can derive only from the jobs we are in, but first we really need to assure ourselves that we really love what we do.

I personally stay motivated through the satisfaction I gain by realising the fact that I have been able to bring a difference in someone’s life by either shifting their perspective/ by building their skill/ by adding an element of information in employees repository of knowledge.

Your personal achievement as an HR professional?

There are a lot of achievements under my kitty but the biggest achievement I feel as an L&D professional, is the utmost satisfaction which I seek, when employees appreciate the results they achieved after being part of a focussed developmental intervention. When employees come & thank me for being thoughtful of the initiatives that contribute to honing their skills, it automatically makes me energized to look up for new projects & avenues.

How do you motivate your Gen X employees (aged 39-54)

This is true that India is the youngest economy in the world with maximum working population in the age bracket of 25 ~ 30 yrs. It is also true that the shell life of skills is decreasing with every passing day and the Gen X employees who had an edge with their experience are now losing the same.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that Gen X employees are equally important and with special focus, they can take the organization to a completely different level since they already have the experience, all they need is a little mastery over latest trends & technology.

Ways which motivate Gen X employees involved

  1. Clear structured goals
  2. No Micro management
  3. Personal appreciation
  4. Find their passion & they will excel in it
  5. Invest in the right rewards structure – GenX are at a completely different stage of their career unlike Millennials. They have families to take care of & really appreciate the flexibility to help them maintain work-life balance.

If Millenials are considered as mobile parts of the body, GenX are the backbone, hence, their retention holds equal importance. Gen X are not the people motivated through just about the right rewards, but the right understanding of their wants, needs, feelings will take a long way to ensure their loyalty to the organization.

Disclaimer: The responses to the questions are solely the views of the interviewee as a professional and do not reflect that of the Organisation he/she works for.

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