5 Things You Need to Know to Motivate Your Workforce

To get the most out of our employees today, we have to be in tune with those things they value, and they truly want.

Employees today have changed. They have different priorities and what makes them happy today is not what we once focused on as employee motivators.

To get the most out of our employees today, we have to be in tune with those things they value, and they truly want. To the surprise of many business leaders, it is NOT the traditional things such as money, promotions, or awards banquets that exclude the spouse. Here are some things I believe are critical to motivate your workforce.

1. Fun is good. Where is it written that we can’t have fun at work? Why is that thought of as non-productive? Why should people have to choose between loving their home life or loving their work life? Why not love your whole life? Creating an atmosphere of fun at work is key. People spend nearly half their lives working … it HAS to be fun! I am part owner of several professional minor league baseball teams. We are famous for how we run our baseball organization and teams. We make fun the core of our success. We have crazy promotions, such as best fan bobblehead night, hot tubs in the outfield for fans, pigs that deliver baseballs to the umpires, to name just a few. We also have creative in-stadium contests, fun menus at our concessions, employees who are highly engaged, and whose ideas are welcomed. Their bosses are accessible and do not take themselves too seriously. As a result, we were ranked in the top 10 best service organizations in North America. Make having fun at work a priority. Life is way too short to not get the most out of it.

2. When is the last time you did something just for your employees? I am not talking about basic benefit packages here because that is now an expected value. We need to show employees that we care as much about them and their lives when they leave our building as we do when they arrive. I have been in the training business for more than 25 years, and most every training course employers provide ultimately is designed to help the employer. We train employees to be better sellers, negotiators, presenters, leaders, coaches, problem solvers … it is all about being a better performer for work. Why don’t we teach them how to be better at life? I have been spending lots of time with companies such as Google, Autotrader, Lockheed, and Cisco Systems who are offering their employees skills on how to master life balance to achieve greatness at home and at work. The results have been staggeringly positive. Employee and family well-being is THE top priority for employees today, and the company that makes this a priority will be in high demand. In fact, according to the Families and Work Life Institute, 70 percent of those surveyed would trade salary increases and promotions for family well-being.

3. Personal well-being drives professional well-being. Many people think that it is the other way around, that if you achieve professional success, then personal success will follow. Nothing could be more wrong. I know many people who have achieved a high professional success, big job, nice title, great pay, but are miserable in their home lives. The cost of anything is the amount of life that you have to trade for it. The lesson here for businesses is that employee and family well-being is the foundation for professional success. Happy people have better work outcomes, more innovation, higher natural productivity, and greater incomes. You want top performance from your employees? Then respect their home lives. No conference calls at 6 p.m.; no travel on Saturdays to save on airfare; no calls at home during off hours; no night or weekend e-mails.

4. Bring humanity back to the business. The key to personal growth is not becoming more powerful but becoming more human. People respond best to authenticity and genuine caring for satisfying their interests. The best leaders I know, the ones people follow to other companies and proactively maintain strong positive relationships with long after their careers end, are the ones who were firm yet fair and placed a high regard for their employees as people.

5. Happiness is the ultimate currency. The MOST important thing I tell people when I speak to them is that it is fine to work hard, but do not EVER forget why you are doing what you do. The goal is success in life, which I define as “Applause at home.” As Art Buchwald once said, “The best things in life are not things.” It is not about net worth, it is all about Life Worth!

Gary Kunath is the author of “Life ... Don’t Miss It. I Almost Did: How I Learned to Live Life to the Fullest,” (lifedontmissitbook.com). He is the founder of The Summit Group, ranked among the top sales training companies in the world by Selling Power magazine. Kunath’s value-creation approach received the Innovative Practice of the Year Award by 3M worldwide, and he was named a national Businessman of the Year. He is an adjunct professor at The Citadel’s Sports Marketing graduate program. Kunath travels the country speaking to companies on employee well-being and elevating associate engagement. He is an owner of several professional minor league baseball teams along with his partners, Bill Murray, Jimmy Buffet, and Mike Veeck.



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