Pay or Purpose – What Really Activates Employee Performance?

A limiting belief in the workplace is that employees simply work for their paycheck. Though some do, this is an outdated way of thinking left behind from the industrial age when compensation was tied to tangible production. Do more, get more. This, of course, drew more attention to pay.

But as the nature of work changed, and we shifted from a “make things” economy to today’s “provide service” economy, our feelings about work have changed. Now, most jobs have employees face-to-face with people – whether customers, vendors or colleagues. This personal connection has encouraged employees to be more focused on the value they provide to others. Work is more personal. We want jobs that make a difference. We want to be part of something important. We want to influence positive change. We have a need to do work that is purposeful.

How do you help create work that matters for each of your employees – to help deliver purpose instead of just pay? Here are some ideas:

  1. Share how the employee’s role supports and advances the mission of the organization. Make it personal.
  2. Invite employees to share their thoughts and opinions about selected areas of the organization. Their input raises their self-esteem and confidence, provides you with greater information from those who are on the front line, and helps them feel part of the organization.
  3. Share stories of what the organization does for its customers and how all employees create the customer experience.
  4. Host a stay interview (as compared with exit interview) with each of your employees regularly. Make time to help them feel heard, encourage their contribution and to improve your relationships.
  5. Make development a key focus of your organization. Helping employees work on skills and performance improvement areas helps expand what they are capable of.

Take Action
Pay is important. Be competitive. Be fair. Have achievable compensation plans that include stretch goals, improvement goals that are funded by the additional performance.

And along with these, be sure your organization helps its employees understand why they do what they do and the difference they make. Remember this quote by Dr. Mehmet Oz, “If your heart doesn’t have a reason to beat, it generally won’t.”

We all need purpose.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Do You Know Your Employee’s Engagement Language?

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