Work motivation as a prerequisite for a successful recruiting strategy and employer branding

Many companies invest tens of thousands of euros each year in their employer branding, with some even investing six figure sums. And quite rightly so because, at the end of the day, positions that don’t get filled at all, or that end up being occupied by the wrong applicants end up costing a lot more. However, those who focus too much on the outside and forget to pay attention to the "inner values" of the company often undermine their own efforts in the area of employer branding and recruiting

work-motivation_successful-recruiting_emploer-branding

The issue here is employee motivation: If colleagues get annoyed with their boss on a daily basis or are constantly being ignored, they carry their worries with them, outside the company walls – and all those employer branding efforts end up being in vain.

The core of employee motivation: Is my job meaningful?

meaningful-job_work-motivation

Vouchers for lunch, a company bike or gym at work – nowadays, employers have plenty of ideas when it comes to Compensation & Benefits to motivate their staff. However, in doing all of this, they forget what traditional motivation theories have to teach us: It is not so much external incentives that ensure long-term motivation to work, it is rather internal drive. And this is something that employers cannot buy – whether by means of shopping vouchers or bowls of fruit.

Heinz Heckhausen’s concept of motivational psychology is particularly noteworthy in this context. He begins with the assumption that employees will only be motivated if the following four requirements are met:

  1. Working conditions: The working environment of every employee is shaped by pre-existing processes, the way the workplace is set up and the work equipment available. Staff can only remain motivated if they do not feel that the outcome of their performance is already predetermined by these fundamental conditions.
  2. One’s own ability to act: A mandatory prerequisite for long-term motivation to work is that employees have the opportunity to influence the outcomes of their work by making decisions and acting accordingly.
  3. The relevance of performance: Does it even matter to the company what the outcome of employee performance is? Those who do not clearly understand the meaning and the value of their work cannot feel motivated.
  4. Consequences of the work performed: The basis of good motivation to work is to identify with the company, to establish a connection with colleagues and the employer and to understand the value of the results of their work with regard to the success of the company.

All of these questions relate to one core theme: Do employees find their daily work meaningful? Employees want to be valued for their performance, and seek personal freedom to act.

Within the context of Performance Management, in order to increase the motivation of employees to work and to promote individual performance in the best possible way, the employer can work on the way in which the work is organised, how the workplace is equipped, and corporate culture. One factor often forgotten in HR management is the quality of leadership that the managers embody in their everyday work. And, in many companies, this leaves much to be desired.

Ten ways bosses (unintentionally) demotivate their staff

employee-demotivation

There are countless ways in which supervisors often unconsciously afflict their employees on a daily basis, successively destroying their original motivation. Typical examples of this include:

  1. The supervisor talks badly even of the best outcomes of work – meaning that all effort seems pointless.
  2. Short-term stress leads to increases in performance; however, if it becomes long-term, it causes poor sleep and reduced motivation to work.
  3. The boss is stingy with praise and recognition, constantly reminding employees of past failures.
  4. The management team makes decisions without taking the views of the workforce into account.
  5. They waste employee time with unnecessary e-mails in CC or meetings with too many participants.
  6. The boss is unable control him or herself. This can be expressed in the form of a disrespectful manner, fits of rage, or colleagues who are upbraided in front of the assembled team.
  7. Employees receive neither information nor feedback from their supervisors. There is a lack of genuine interest.
  8. Bad bosses lie to their employees, break promises and shift the blame for their own mistakes onto their employees.
  9. Do lazy, incompetent colleagues get the same salary as the top performers? Or are other staff favoured for no apparent reason? This ends up being a recipe for work-to-rule.
  10. Is company restructuring and the elimination of positions causing a lack of job security? This erodes the workforce’s motivation to work.

If employers are wondering whether they employ bad personnel management, they need only look at a few hard facts: How high is fluctuation, and are there individual business divisions where it is particularly high? Has the number of absences due to illness increased recently? How has employee satisfaction been developing over time? Frequent negative entries on employer assessment platforms can also be a conspicuous indicator of deficiencies in corporate and management culture.

Without a positive motivation to work, there can be no employer branding

motivation-to-work_employer-brandingIf employees are constantly having trouble with the boss, they don’t just tell their partners; they tell friends and acquaintances too. Regular negative reports about company personnel management causes damage to the company’s public reputation. Employer branding then ends up missing its mark because, at best, it ends up being an exercise in damage limitation. The success that is striven for – that of coming across as an appealing employer – suffers as a consequence. This is especially the case as the public perception of management behaviour almost makes efforts to present the company in a positive light appear laughable.

In practice, this means that: If bad management is the order of the day in the company, this is the point at which employee development should be tackled, before taking any other employer branding measures. Although this is the task of HR – Management bears an even greater responsibility in this regard.

If open, agile and fair leadership is not a lived reality at the top of the company, this shortcoming automatically ends up being propagated down to the lower levels of management, and the failure of employer branding is inevitable. This has a direct impact on recruitment: If the management culture has negative associations in the mind of the public, this damages the employer's reputation. Applications from potential top performers and highly qualified specialists stop coming in and the employer fails to bind new employees to the company.

Working on the fundamentals: Positive leadership and the motivation to work are required

positive-leadership_motivation-to-workThe consistent further development of management and corporate culture should be just as much a part of the employer branding and recruiting strategy as flexible working time models, an up-to-date e-recruiting approach, onboarding processes, and internet-based brand ambassadors. Toxic personnel management poison the working environment, making it a hostile place for workers. In order to work on the basic management culture, uniform corporate values and role models must be established. Training for managers can help to bring about changes in the functioning of leadership. Target agreements involving managers and employees, regularly monitored using HR software such as rexx Management by Objectives, can help this aim to be achieved. If none of these measures help, employers sometimes have no choice but to make a clean break and allow those involved to go their separate ways.

A positive employer branding as well as successful recruiting requires good leadership – otherwise scheming, (socially) incompetent and toxic personnel management stifle any such efforts before they can bear fruit.

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22. December 2020

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