Research shows there are four things that motivate employees:
- the desire for compensation and material things
- the need to bond with others and feel as though they belong
- the need to make sense of their environment
- the desire to defend their accomplishments
[source: Psychology Today]
Satisfying the desire for compensation doesn't have to mean paying astronomical salaries. The salaries at Zappos.com, the online shoe store, are well below market rates (only about $23,000 annually for the average hourly employee), yet the company still manages to inspire almost cult-like loyalty from its employees with its free-spirited corporate culture and dedication to molding its entry-level hires into managers [source: Inc.].
Compensation doesn't have to be monetary. It can come in many forms: stock options, extra time off or even a drink out with the boss.
You can satisfy the need to bond by creating a corporate culture that's based on mutual respect and support. Instead of making employees compete against one another -- which creates a cutthroat environment in which people willingly step on their co-workers to get ahead -- reward employees as a team to encourage camaraderie.
To satisfy the third need, you must have transparency. The company's goals and the employee's responsibilities should be obvious from the moment a new person is hired. Everyone's job should be very clearly delineated, and each employee should understand how his or her individual piece fits into the bigger picture.
Finally, employees should be recognized for every contribution they make to your organization. Whether that reward comes in the form of a promotion, salary increase or just a round of applause at a company event, it's still recognition.