By Manikanth Challa
Two years of the pandemic, multiple layoffs and the abrupt shutting down of organisations may have changed the work landscape forever, prompting millions of individuals to take a cold, hard look at their lives and careers. While great pay and monetary benefits were one of the biggest driving factors for work a couple of years ago, the motivation seems to be shifting to a more intangible space, now. In a changing world with an impending recession and declining economy, it becomes even more difficult for an organisation to ensure its workforce is motivated and appreciated while delivering results amid uncertainty.
Things driving employee motivation today are ideas like loyalty, belonging and purpose – all things that cannot be measured, making it even harder for organisations to create and keep track of them. Creating value out of intangibles requires long-term efforts that need to be sustained over time, like tending to a garden. One may not see results immediately, but consistent effort doesn’t go to waste and pays off largely over time.
Building trust through flexibility
With Millennial and Gen Z actively making up a majority of the workforce today, it’s imperative to understand the psyche of the young and teeming demographic. The younger workforce increasingly values work-life balance as compared to their predecessors. The flexibility of work is now touted as the new pay raise, with the workforce looking to prioritise their personal lives along with their careers. Surprisingly, millions of people are ready to take a pay cut if their jobs allow them to prioritise family, parenting and other non-professional ventures.
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The demand for flexibility comes with placing accountability on individuals to be responsible for their work. Hybrid working models and other flexible options help build both accountability and trust among professionals. While trust building takes time, it’s one of the surest ways to increase retention and loyalty in the future.
Creating company culture through transparency
A company’s culture doesn’t start and end with swanky offices or cool perks; it is one of the core principles that bind people together, especially when the going gets tough. Company culture, just like legacy, cannot be sustained from the top down entirely, it needs employees to be involved in order to exist and thrive. Professionals need to feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves to be motivated to work every day.
Honest conversations beyond boardrooms; encouraging all employees regardless of hierarchy to have a say, go a long way in creating a company’s culture. While the ideas seem like vague concepts that may not pay off at the outset, culture creation is an undertaking that can be made profitable in the future, just like knowledge and wisdom.
Providing scope for growth and recognition
Professionals are smarter in terms of upskilling and reskilling today. This becomes the biggest advantage to organisations looking to mentor budding professionals on their way to climb the ladder. Growth opportunities like access to exclusive seminars, courses, on-the-job training, one-to-one mentorship and interdepartmental cross-training are all innovative ways to ensure individuals are getting skilled on the job while concurrently becoming invaluable assets to the organisation.
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With a challenging working environment and uncertainty in the world, it’s difficult for even highly skilled professionals to bring their A-game to the workplace on a daily basis. Acknowledging this and regularly recognising their hard work along with steady mentorship goes a long way in creating excellent working relationships that ultimately pay off.
Research conducted by McKinsey found that fast growers in most sectors invest 2.6 more times in intangibles than others in their industry. Monetarily, creating value out of intangibles requires low-cost efforts with high returns. For instance, a well-worded appreciation note or email from a manager does way more to boost a professional’s morale than an impersonal one-size-fits-all gift certificate. Little measures, when undertaken with intention and frequency, can make the intangible, tangible over a period of time, contributing to the overall progress of individuals and organisations at large.
(The author is CEO & Founder, Workruit. Views are personal.)