5 ways managers can enhance farm employee motivation

As it turns out, motivation is immeasurable

An ounce of motivation can make all of the difference!

Did you know though, that motivation isn't a one-way street? Motivation can be driven by leadership. Far too often, leadership doesn't give employee motivation the attention it deserves.

There is a wide array of research available on motivational theory, but one well-respected researcher in this area is Frederick Herzberg. He found that, while many people feel there is a single continuum from dissatisfaction to satisfaction, it is not true. Rather, there are factors that must be in place, labeled 'hygiene factors,' and then there are other factors that either increase or decrease the level of satisfaction/motivation an employee may have.

Herzberg defines things like a competitive salary, good benefits and decent working conditions as 'hygiene factors' -- things that a person needs to have. In other words, no matter how much you excel in other areas of motivation, without these things, the employee won't move from being de-motivated to being motivated.

Things he noted the things that positively impact motivation are achievement, recognition, responsibility and the work itself. These motivators were not only the most frequent causes of motivation, but they had the longest lasting effect on satisfaction.

Interestingly, some of Herzberg's noted 'hygiene factors' can become leading causes for dissatisfaction. Company policies and supervision ranked high in terms of what dissatisfied employees.

Salary is rarely ranked within the top five things that motivate an employee, but if salary is completely out of sync, it can be a de-motivator with a long-lasting effect. The same goes for bonus structures. Misaligned production bonus schemes can be very counterproductive.

So, what do we do with all of this motivation knowledge? Here are five tips for managers to enhance motivation within their operation:

1. Recognize good work and do so frequently.

2. Conduct exit interviews that ask questions to help understand why the person is leaving. Use this information to help modify current practices and behaviors within the workplace when possible.

3. Use employee surveys that not only ask for feedback on the challenges, but also why they stay with the operation. Do more of these things!

4. Review current organizational policies and practices frequently and remove any that aren't effective or are unnecessary.

5. Invest in the people and give them opportunities to learn both inside and outside of the operation.

The opinions of AgCareers.com specialists are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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