New research by Argos for Business, the specialist business division of the UK retailer Argos, reveals the level and drivers of motivation that the Britons experience at work. Gloria Lombardi reviews the findings.
Are UK workers happy or dissatisfied at work? According to the new study into employee motivation by Argos for Business, 70 per cent of the British workforce feels consistently positive.
The survey was conducted among 1,000 UK employees ahead of the Employee Motivation Day on 25th February. The annual day was created by Argos for Business in order to inspire passion and appreciation across the country’s labour force.
To celebrate, employees and employers use social media to share what they love about working for their company. They use the hashtags #EmployeeMotivationDay, #EMD, #MakeTheTeam and #NatMotivateDay – a nice way to exercise employee advocacy.
The research findings are wide-ranging. They reveal differences in attitudes amongst different age groups, the power of a simple verbal ‘thank you’ and how insights can be garnered through categorising staff into work personalities.
Millennials – a different world?
A consistent trend emerges from the study: team dynamics play a critical – if not the most important – role in employees’ satisfaction, with two-thirds of workers enjoying being part of a team.
But, it turns out that there is a disparity between the age groups.
In fact, younger employees (those born between 1992 and 2000) would like to experience a different way of working: 34 per cent of them are keen to work alone rather than being part of a team. It is a stark contrast to the mere eight per cent of the older teammates who would like to operate solo.
Yet, the enthusiasm of youth is evident in the research. A third of Millennials like asking questions to get work done, while 58 per cent of their older colleagues prefer to work on ideas independently.
A quarter of younger employees are also keen to take on new projects. Whereas, only a tenth of all other age groups enjoy tackling new challenges. And, just one in five of the over-55s enjoy motivating and providing support to younger staff.
The findings are interesting because they highlight the delicate balance between working as a team and being self-motivated. It would be natural to respond to these results by providing staff with a working environment that encourages the best of both worlds.
Additionally, effective communication may be a chance for the Millennials and the older generation to come together. In short, while the disparity will be present, cooperation is paramount to achieve objectives.
Say ‘Thank you’
The study reveals the influence of praise and recognition in the workplace. Perhaps not surprisingly, yet important to emphasise, a personal ‘thank you’ by a manager or director is the top motivational factor in helping all employees feel engaged.
In fact, one in 10 workers are more likely to stay at a company long-term if they are regularly praised. And, three-quarters of them remember a time when they were verbally praised.
Verbal praise is the most motivational for Millennials in particular. Two-fifths of them prefer positive feedback to financial rewards, which only drives a mere three per cent of younger employees.
Also, for 33 per cent of the board, verbal recognition from a peer is more important than receiving bonuses or having extra holidays, which makes only seven per cent of workers happier.
The message is clear: whether it is in person or via digital channels, even the smallest gesture of thanking people for their input goes a long way in motivating them to participate.
But ultimately, if there is one thing I have been seen through all the people interviews and company case studies I write, is that organisations thrive when they reward employees in ways that suit individuals. A one size fits all approach is never an effective solution. As long as a company prioritises their people first and their unique needs, they will have one of the ingredients of corporate success.
While there is no ‘I’, there is a ‘me’ in a team. Or so it seems. The research explores how various personality types take on very different roles. And, Argos for Business suggests organisations encouraging a collaborative working environment where each work personality can have an impact.
A fifth of employees see themselves as the Captain Questions. They enjoy problem-solving in a group, convening collective brainstorms to reach a decision, encouraging free-thinking and offering thanks for all suggestions and input.
Conversely, the Independent Introverts (15 per cent of the workforce) take considered, informed decisions in their head before expressing them out loud. The Confident Creatives (11 per cent of employees) follow.
One in five workers are Big Idea Bod – they let others in the team make the ‘big picture’ thinking happen. And, one in seven are People-Orientated Performers, who prefer motivating others instead of themselves.
In truth, as a personality framework it, of course, may miss the nuances of working in a real world where each individual is much more complex. Yet, it may be a helpful starting point for anyone who wants to appreciate being part of a team – particularly when you consider how different personality types make up a team! In fact, for a third of respondents, encouraging working collaboratively and allowing the different types to complement each other was the best way to motivate employees. And, taking the time to listen to other ways of working helped increase the levels of motivation of 36 per cent of employees.
So, in the long term, it may well make sense for organisations who want to inspire a culture of engagement to acknowledge and nurture the different working styles of their employees. And, to follow up with action.
Roger Black – a Captain Questions
Roger identifies himself as a Captain Questions within a team, encouraging free-thinking and offering words of encouragement to teammates. He likes remembering when in 1991, the British Team won a gold medal for the 4×400 metre relay team in the World Championships. In a brave move, they made a team decision to change the running order the night before the race. That decision ultimately resulted in the gold medal.
“By giving your team members room to brainstorm and make collaborative decisions about what they do, you will see an increase in engagement and a greater commitment to tasks – because they have made it their own,” says the medallist.
Indeed, his message resonates in both the sporting arena and the workplace.