Saturday, February 28, 2009

Motivate with Low or No Budget

There's a lot of discussion now about how to motivate or energize employees when you are in a situation with no money, no budget, and maybe just coming off of some fairly demotivating experiences like layoffs. I may have an answer. It's based on the results of deeper analysis of the one of the leadership pulse studies we did last year on relational capital.

Relational capital focuses on the quantity and quality of relationships a firm has with its various stakeholders (e.g. employees, customers, investors, suppliers, etc.). We ran a study in summer of 2008, and about 1,200 leaders responded. The bigger report will be available on next week, but I'll share an interesting highlight from the work that relates to the topic of this blog.

When looking at high vs. low performing firms, the higher performing firms had strong and significant differences in relational capital focused on a group of stakeholders that encompassed temporary employees, outsourced employees, the government, suppliers, and the general community. When employees thought their firm had positive and higher relational capital with these groups, employees were more motivated and firms had higher performance.

Think about what that means if you follow the logic. It suggests that you can improve morale and energy, which lead to higher productivity, by engaging in activities that help your community.

I received some great quotes from survey respondents about what they are doing to improve these relationships (these will be in the report). But in the meantime, if you are reading this, let me know what you think.

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