Modern Motivational Methods for Attracting and Retaining Employees

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Anaïs Thibault Landry of ESG UQAM,
Allan Schweyer of the Incentive Research Foundation, and Ashley Whillans of Harvard Business School. They recently published an article in Compensation & Benefits Review entitled “Winning the War for Talent: Modern Motivational Methods for Attracting and Retaining Employees,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivation and impact of this research:]

Many companies remain structured – both in their organization and mindset – to address last century’s challenges. But nothing has changed more dramatically in recent decades than work and peoples’ attitudes toward it. The complexity of business combined with an inexorable need to innovate, require increasingly more sophisticated and nuanced approaches to attracting, engaging, and retaining talent. This research builds on past work of ours and many others, exploring the various ways non-financial benefits and rewards nurture stronger employer-employee relationships and better outcomes – both for the individual and the organization.

Like many today, we’re motivated to help solve the enormous challenges organizations face in an economy with almost zero unemployment among skilled workers, combined with stubbornly low employee engagement levels. We’ve been consistently surprised at the effects of certain “softer” rewards of work, especially those that convey a sense of caring. For example, when employers describe their generous leave policies in job descriptions, they attract many more candidates than firms that pay significantly more. Based only on the job description, candidates report they believe the employer cares more about their employees – and that’s worth more to them than extra money.

We think these findings are the most important and innovative of our research. For employers it means they now operate in a world where top talent is looking for more out of work than just a handsome paycheck. It means they should re-visit their approach to benefits and rewards by emphasizing flexible work, inclusion, purpose, autonomy and non-financial gifts that convey appreciation.

Stay up-to-date with the latest research from the journal and sign up for email alerts today through the homepage!

Short-Term Incentives, Long-Term Success?

Do short-term incentives really work to motivate employees? Jennifer E. Wynter-Palmer of the University of Technology/Jamaica Institute of Management examined the debate and its implications in her article “Is the Use of Short-Term Incentives Good Organization Strategy?,” published in the Compensation & Benefits Review September/October 2012 issue:

CBR_42_1_72ppiRGB_150pixWThis article is based on research conducted on Jamaica’s hotel industry. The study sought to determine if there are any advantages to both employers and employees in use of short-term incentives in that industry. Using theories of motivation and the concepts governing incentive compensation to construct a theoretical framework, the article sought to make the link between short-term incentives, motivation and employee productivity. The debate by both academicians and human resource practitioners is about the right types as well as the right mix of workplace motivators. It is acknowledged that there are strong arguments on all sides. This article seeks to add to the academic debate by advancing that what is critical is that (a) the need for employee motivation should not be viewed as optional but must be fully appreciated, planned and implemented thoughtfully by employers; and (b) the motivational processes used will be influenced by the thinking of an organization’s leadership team as well as the culture of the organization. It is posited for this discussion that where organizations are on a quest to improve workforce productivity, their employees need to be motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. In turn, the right types and levels of motivation will lead to employees performing at the desired levels.

Click here to continue reading, and browse the current issue of CBR by clicking here.