When you wake up in the morning, are you excited about going to work? If so, can you name what inspires you most? If not, can you define what is missing?
Although your answer might be specific to you, it likely resembles what millions of people would say, whether they are excited to go to work or the enthusiasm is missing. Although there are various lists of motivators that commonly inspire people to give their best – opportunity for advancement, a congenial and stimulating team environment, making a difference, personal growth, a flexible work schedule, clear job expectations, and autonomous responsibility – you can always ask people the questions I started this post with. It is not that hard for a leader to discover what would make someone excited to go to work each day.
Inspiration impacts both retention – why people stay with companies – and productivity – why people choose to give their best effort. The lack of inspiration often causes people to leave their jobs even if they aren’t sure the next one will be any better. Or they stay on a job but their heart isn’t in their work.
A recent Monster Worldwide study on employee loyalty showed
- 1 out of every 2 workers (50%) reported dissatisfaction or indifference at their current job.
- 4 out of 5 workers indicate that they have updated their resumes in the past 6 months.
- 56-60% of workers reported that they search for a new job “all the time” or “frequently.”
I believe the problem is that leaders do not know the difference between expectation and inspiration.
Money is an expectation. People either feel they are paid fairly or not. If they feel they are paid fairly, they don’t think about money and the leader must discover what will inspire or expire their best efforts. If they don’t feel they are paid fairly, they are not happy and need something else that is more important to them than money to enjoy going to work.
Inspiration drives us from the inside out. When I did the research published in Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction, I found that most strong, smart women wanted frequent new challenges and to feel that their work was significant to the company, to the world, or both. Since then, many men have told me this applies to them as well.
One of the most important factors that is climbing to the top of employee engagement surveys is professional development. Many employees hope for and even expect that their leaders will help them prepare for their future whether they will stay with the company or not. However, in appreciation, they often stay for a long time with the companies that develop their minds as well as their skills.
I stumbled on an amazing company last week. I needed to fix a slight mishap with my car bumper after a collision with a file cabinet ripped out the two bolts holding the side of the bumper in place. I found Lovett’s Body Shop in Phoenix. They have a great story about how the two female owners came to acquiring and growing the body shop. The picture shows the Lovett team.
The best part of their story is how they helped one of their employee’s pursue a life-long dream of being a disk jockey. They helped him figure out how to invoice and do bookkeeping and even let him off early to play gigs. He continues to be one of their best employees.
“Even when this employee decides to leave Lovett’s he will be a better, more enriched person than when he first started at the body shop,” said Ruth Young, one of Lovett’s owners. “And I know that while he is with us, he’s the best he can be for us because we’ve helped him achieve his goals.”
Why would anyone want to work for you? The answer is important to your long term success. Get in the habit of asking people what inspires them. It’s an engaging question to ask. Then if you can help them get what inspires them, you will benefit in return.