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Keeping Employees Motivated and Turnover Rates Low

Updated on July 9, 2017

Why Do Turnover Rates Matter?

Replacing employees is expensive; plain and simple. Every time an employee leaves, it is up to the company to invest in hiring and training a replacement. Consistently high turnover rates end up being a very costly expenditure. Because of this, it makes more sense to invest in the satisfaction of the current employees so they desire to stay.

It can be argued that companies can actually save money by having unproductive employees leave, but not every employee who leaves will be a sigh of relief. Some of the employees may be key components to the success of the company. No company can afford to lose such employees, and that is why it is important to ask the question "why do they leave?"


Some employers will say that the main reasons they move on is due to external issues such as better opportunities or their family; things that are out of their control. The reality, however, is that companies have far more control over their turnover rates than they think. It turns out that a lack of motivation is the main reason why employees leave. When employers take the time to find out what motivates their employees, they will find that they have happier, more productive workers with a desire to stay. Here are some of the ways employers can create a more motivating environment.


Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic

Before getting into the how of motivating employees, it is important to understand the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. If an employee is intrinsically motivated, they are doing their job because they want to and they enjoy it. If they are extrinsically motivated, then they are doing their job because of an outside factor, whether it be financial stability, a bonus, or something else.

Intrinsic motivation has been proven to be a better form of motivation than extrinsic. Making employees feel good about what they are doing is more beneficial than purely motivating them through rewards. I have included both kinds because it is good to have a combination of the two. It is important, however, to recognize that if the intrinsic motivation is not there, the employee will eventually burn out and potentially leave.

Offer Incentives, But Make Sure They're the Right Kind

If someone asks you to do the dishes, what is your reaction? Presumably not a joyful one. What if someone asks you to do the dishes, but offers you $100 to do it? Your reaction would be noticeably different. Offering incentives to employees will motivate them to not only complete the task, but complete it with a better attitude and a higher level of quality. Positive attitudes will improve office moral and quality work will help the company function more smoothly. It's a win-win for everyone. The hard part is figuring out what employees want and making sure that the incentive is creating good habits.

Every employee has different needs and wants.. There is no "one size fits all" incentive. For example, a busy mother with newborn twins may not necessarily want to win a cruise in the Bahamas by meeting a goal. She may prefer a more practical incentive such as extra paid time off. Managers need to take the time to consider what sorts of incentives employees will most appreciate and actually want.

While an incentive may seem harmless, managers must be careful with how they are offering them as well because they can sometimes create bad habits. For example, if a production worker is offered a bonus by creating 100 products, then the quality of these products may decrease and the company will end up with 100 mediocre products. Why? Because the employee is focused on cranking out 100 products for that bonus rather than focusing on quality. Managers must be wary of this and monitor the effect their incentive is having on the work being done.

While money is an easy incentive, it may not be what motivates people.
While money is an easy incentive, it may not be what motivates people. | Source


I had briefly mentioned positivity in my last point, but I want to talk about that more. How a person feels or acts affects more than just themselves; it affects everyone around them. People act like those they are around the most often. If they are at work for 40 hours a week with a negative person, they will begin to feel negative and act negatively as well. This is dangerous because it can spread throughout an entire office and cause employees to enjoy what they do less.

The good news is that positivity is just as infectious. If managers are energetic and enthusiastic about what they do, the employees will pick up on it. They'll feel happier about what they do and gain a higher level of satisfaction from their work.

Trust Your Employees

Managers showing employees that they are trusted speaks volumes. Micromanaging their every move or not trusting them to produce excellent work says "I don't think you're a quality employee." Nobody wants to feel that way. Everyone wants to know that they have value and are capable of quality. Putting trust in an employee to lead a group or do an important project shows them that they are valued at the company.

With that being said, not every employee is necessarily ready for that sort of trust. Maybe they're young and new and still need a lot of direction, or maybe they are not trustworthy as an individual. If the latter is the case, then it may be time to reconsider the value of that employee to the company. If not, then start with small acts of trust. Give them small projects to work on at first and then, if they're ready, move on to bigger things.


Give Feedback

I know most people understand the value of giving positive feedback, but what about negative feedback? Constructive communication of any kind from a manager is preferred to none at all. While most people like praise better than criticism, having management ignore employees makes them feel like they aren't a priority. They are not important enough to receive positive or negative feedback. Not only does this make employees feel like they aren't valued, but it also means that they don't know when they're doing a good job and when they're not. This can lead to less-than-stellar work if they do not know what managers want. The lack of direction can also lead to frustration and confusion.

Offer Flexible Work Options

It's no secret that in this day and age that people want it all. They want to have a family, travel the world, or fulfill any other aspirations they may have. It is up to employers to make sure that they don't have to choose between their aspirations and their job. Many employees leave because they don't feel satisfied with their lives anymore, and managers can change that by offering them different work options so they can "have it all."

Offer flex-time. If the job that the employee performs can be done at essentially any time, allow them some level of flexibility as to what hours they come and go at. Every position is different so there may be different levels of flexibility, but employees will appreciate having some level of control over their schedules.

Allowing employees to work from home can be very valuable to them, especially if they have families. This would allow them to complete their work, but never have to leave their own houses. Naturally, not every job can be done from home, but this is an excellent option to offer people who can do their work from home.

Another option that employers can offer is called job-sharing. This is where the company has two employees doing the same job, but each one does a portion of it. How the work is split up among the employees is up to them and their manager(s), but whatever they choose gets 100% of the work done. This is a great option for people who love what they do at their full-time job, but can no longer work full-time due to children, taking care of an elderly family, or whatever the case may be.


How much do you think turnover rates are affected by motivation?

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© 2017 Lindsay Langstaff


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