Management » The highest ROI you can make today

The highest ROI you can make today

There are powerful reasons to treat your people as your most valuable asset, says CFO-in-Residence Chris Astle in an article co-authored with career coach Laura Ellera

“Your employees are your biggest asset”, is a saying that is bandied around a lot and although most companies will pay lip service to this, how many truly put their staff first before their profits/deadlines/political decisions?

As employees become more skilled and therefore more in the driving seat when it comes to choosing which companies to go to and stay at, it is increasingly important for employers to take heed and really put their employees first.

But what does this really mean? What is putting your employees first? And why does it matter?

A motivated, content team has the power to outperform the sum of their parts. Whereas one unmotivated person in a team can bring the whole team down and sabotage the success of the company.

When a team is given positive reinforcement for the work they do, they are more likely to go beyond what is expected of them. This is the difference between an employee doing what they have to do and what they want to do and is their discretionary effort (Daniels).

By motivating your staff and providing timely, positive reinforcement, you increase the amount of discretionary effort applied and therefore the work produced.

According to research by the Institute for Employment Studies, engaged employees are more likely to stay with the organisation, perform 20 per cent better than their colleagues and act as advocates of the business (Robertson-Smith and Markwick).

So if you have 10 people in your team, motivating the individuals could lead to the output of 12 people without having to pay for the extra salary and all that comes with hiring two additional people. Whereas demotivated members will mean that you are paying for heads which you are gaining far less from.

Your employees have the ability to do way more than they are often given credit for. When given the tools, freedom and support to push themselves, not only do they thrive but so does the company.

But how do you find what drives that motivation and what will therefore make them want to give that bit extra for your company?

The answer can be as simple as this.

You ask them.

Not in the end of year appraisal, which, let’s face it, is a box ticking exercise for many companies. But in a really engaged, genuinely interested conversation about what makes your team tick. What is it that they want from not only the company but life in general? What gets them excited to come to work? What makes them come back? Money is not the only answer.

In David Rock’s SCARF model, “a job should not be viewed as a business transaction, do the work and get paid, but rather as a part of a social system in which the brain is rewarded (or punished) based on how well the business environment is meeting an employee’s need for status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness.”

Responsibility and a feeling of making a difference in a company all help to ensure your staff are coming back for more and giving their all. And whilst different personality types will be motivated by different cues, finding out what drives your employees will not only affect the atmosphere and day to day life of the office but also your bottom line.

A study by Harvard Business School found that after offering motivational leadership training to a group of bank branch managers, credit card sales increased by 20% and personal loan sales increased by 47%. A significant increase in sales for taking the time out to motivate their managers. Imagine what could be done if this training was rolled out to all the employees on a regular basis.

So, while employers are spending time and money on new marketing strategies/ product launches/ etc. something as simple as understanding their staff could be the missing ingredient that really makes all the difference.

And this is where coaching in a business is invaluable. It could be coaching the managers to show them how to bring coaching skills to meetings with their employees, or bringing in a coach to actually coach the individual members of the team.

Having a space where the employee has the opportunity to review their true goals and look at how to break them down into manageable chunks which they can actually take action on is hugely rewarding and motivating.

And maybe this ultimately leads them to the realisation that their future isn’t with your company. But isn’t it better to find that out now rather than finding out years later when you’ve invested heavily in their training. Also, think of the effect this one unmotivated member can have on the rest of the team and your bottom line.

Much better to find out now. For both of you.

A happy and motivated team is no longer something that is a nice to have in a fluffy, unreal world. It is now essential to attract, retain and nurture staff that will accelerate the performance of the company.

A recent study by Deloitte noted “organizations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, deep employee engagement, job and organizational fit, and strong leadership are outperforming their peers and will likely beat their competition in attracting top talent.”

So, understanding and improving the motivation of your team helps to attract and retain better quality employees and increase your profits. A win-win situation.

And after all, isn’t that every businesses goal.

Follow Chris Astle on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Daniels A. Audrey Daniels International – Earning Above and Beyond Performance. 2018

Robertson-Smith G, Markwick C. Institute for Employment Studies Employee Engagement. A Review of Current Thinking. 2009.

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