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Most of us don't give much thought to the mechanics of motivation. For a time, I didn't. Then I was exposed to something called "Maslow's Hierarchy of Motivation" which was published the early 1960's. Moslow takes the position that there are five primary levels of motivation. The base level of motivation is for physical things such as food, warmth, clothing and shelter. The next level is our desire for safety and security. We want the protection of our police and we try to do things in a safe manner. We caution our kids about looking both ways before crossing the street and prohibit them playing with matches.
Food, safety, warmth, clothing, and those things contained in the two base levels of motivation are things normally purchased in today's society. This is where the level of wages paid come in. First, we must pay a living wage. There's a lot of disagreement about just what this is. There are a lot of people working for wages of $6 more or less. However, the city of San Francisco is seriously considering a minimum wage for any supplier to the city in the order of $12 an hour. The best guidance here is to consider a wage comparable to those being paid in the area by your competitors for the position and educational background you require. This is the first step in keeping employees. Be comparable to wages in the area.
Once the first two levels of motivators are satisfied a person turns to love and a sense of belonging. Love is important to all of us. We have to leave it to the individual to find the love they desire. However, there are some thoughts about the sense of belonging.
Who doesn't have a group of friends, however large or small, that is important for us to belong to? We go fishing or play poker "with the boys" or we play bridge or "do lunch with the girls". Giving an employee a sense of belonging is the first level of motivators the smart businessperson will work with. Speaking to them in a pleasant manner, inquiring about their family, asking about vacation plans are all ways you can exhibit to the employee that you care about them. A word of caution however. Just like kids can detect a phony, if you are not sincere the employee will pick up on it.
The fourth level of motivational needs includes the need to feel competent, prestige, and esteem. Sales persons use this to sell us a car with prestige or live in a house with a prestigious address, all at costs we really can't afford. Likewise, when
We are recognized for a useful suggestion or successful completion of a difficult task, we feel that the boss thinks we are competent and this feeling is passed on to us. Even better, when the recognition is in front of an employee's peer group, the feeling of self-esteem grows. When co-workers ask for help we feel a level of competence and self-esteem. I could go on but hopefully I've made my point.
The highest level of motivation is something called self-fulfillment. When the businessperson takes the time to identify those things an employee truly enjoys doing and, further, does well we have the beginnings of a successful story. When the owner/supervisor matches an employee's abilities with the demands of an assignment, the employee is recognized for competence; should have a feeling of high esteem and will work hard and with diligence to complete the assignment satisfactorily and with all due speed. All this leads to self-fulfillment for the employee. He will feel good about himself, his job and his boss. At this point you have started building something money can't buy, employee loyalty.
The formula for keeping good employees is 1) Pay a competitive wage and 2) Be aware of and work with the motivational needs of each employee as an individual and employee turn-over will be kept an a minimum. A sense of belonging and self fulfillment, coupled with a living wage will make an employee want to stay.
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