No man is an island. While the maxim might be more appropriately phrased as no person is an island, the essence remains the same: none of us exists without the support of those around us. It’s an idea that’s especially true in business. It’s vital that business leaders provide the right environment to inspire and motivate their employees as we all work toward the common goal of business success. In the shadow of two pandemic-affected years, approaching people management and motivation in an effective way has never been more important.
Equality and trust
For Jonathan Buck, co-founder and joint CEO of digital insurance provider Open, levelling the playing field has been a key to the business’s success. “The idea of equality and lack of hierarchy is motivating because it makes everyone feel they have a role to play and they have a voice,” Buck says. Even as the business grows, Buck avoids issuing strict directives, preferring to trust his employees (a term he actually shies away from) to make their own decisions.
For Buck, when coupled with clear communication of the business’s direction, autonomy and equality can be invigorating. “Empower people,” says Buck. “Everyone we employ, they are smart, capable adults who can think for themselves, solve problems, and can provide value to the business. If you can create clarity in what the business is trying to do, about what we hope you as a person in the business can achieve for it, and then empower that person to go ahead and find ways of doing that, I think that’s very motivating.”
Adapting to changing priorities
If business leaders are truly listening to their employees, they’ll know the importance of a hybrid working model. Post-lockdown, splitting work between the office and home has become something of a non-negotiable in terms of worker priorities. “What we’re seeing is that employers are recognising this is what employees want,” says Officeworks managing director Sarah Hunter in a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald. “And so, it’s going to become — and has already started to become — a really core part of their employment proposition.”
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In facilitating the shift in employee priorities, Officeworks has moved to make working from anywhere easier, launching a new online service called Flexiworks. The program will allow employers to subsidise workers purchasing equipment such as ergonomic desks and chairs, through their own online tailored platform.
For Steve Orenstein, founder and CEO of delivery platform Zoom2u, getting the best out of remote workers means being available and trying to bridge that distance. “Try to make sure that you keep in touch and you have those in-person check-ins,” Orenstein says. “Doing one-on-ones is important and I think making sure that everyone is really clear on their goals and what they’re trying to achieve is important.”
When work is good, businesses should provide employees with positive reinforcement. “I think it’s important to provide recognition for people that have achieved things,” says Orenstein. At Zoom2u, that means regular catch-ups to celebrate hard work and positive results. “Every quarter we’ll have a team meeting and say ‘this is what we’ve done in the last quarter, these are the key milestones, and these are the people that helped to do that’ and we’ll have some awards for the staff members. Those awards are really useful, because people feel recognised for the hard work that they’ve done.”
Seeking employee feedback
Effective people management can be proactive, but it also requires a deft response to any criticisms or negative feedback. For Buck, employee engagement correlates with motivation, so it’s important to be able to capture the feedback of employees and respond accordingly. “We do quarterly engagement surveys,” Buck says. “That gives us an idea of how engaged people are across the business. We love the high engagement scores we get, but really the most valuable thing from those surveys is where we’re not doing so well so we can improve.”
As Zoom2u grows, Orenstein can spend less personal time hearing the individual goals and priorities of his employees. That understanding will now come from HR and people management software. “We’re getting close to 100 staff members and obviously spending one on one time, for me, is impossible,” says Orenstein. “Having a tool that allows us to measure that and see that from a group point of view down to the detail of the individual and identifying what that looks like is super important.”
Officeworks is Australia's leading retailer of office supplies, technology, furniture, education resources, art supplies and Print & Create. Officeworks offers more than 40,000 products on its website, catering to micro, small and medium business customers to help them start, run and grow their business. With everyday low prices on quality products and services, including tech-support by Geeks2U, you’ll find everything you need at Officeworks.