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How to Identify What Motivates Your Employees


When conducting exit interviews, many firms are surprised by the reasons employees give for moving on. Often there are little things that add up to the big decision to look elsewhere for alternate employment. Smart companies are now being even more proactive searching out “areas for improvement” so they do not have to replace in-house talent.

Tapping into these motivations can be a big or small exercise. An outside consultant can design and administer a comprehensive anonymous survey complete with recommendations for next steps. Or, companies can design their own questionnaire. Employees can provide written feedback anonymously or directly. Establishing a “suggestion box” in a common area can also work if someone is in charge of regularly checking and taking action on the suggestions. Utilizing an internal website or newsletter to highlight “good suggestions” is an excellent way to  “get the word out” on new initiatives. This communication piece is key to ensuring an equal distribution of the new benefits and demonstrating that the firm is continually looking at ways to support their employees. It is just as important to highlight why some good ideas cannot be implemented. Your company building may not meet municipal building codes to install a daycare, for example. Employees will appreciate knowing that your company at least considered the possibility.

In preparation for each employee’s annual review, ask him or her to come prepared with what motivates them personally and, if applicable, with some corresponding suggestions for improvement in their workplace. Also ask them to be prepared to comment on some initiative or working situation that was of benefit during the past year. Companies also thrive on feedback.


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