Management Articles


Keeping Your Workforce Motivated In Today's Economy

By: Gregory P. Smith

Greg Smith's cutting-edge keynotes, consulting, and training programs have helped businesses reduce turnover, increase sales, hire superior people, and deliver better customer service. As President and founder of Chart Your Course International, He has implemented professional development programs for thousands of organizations globally. Greg has authored eight informative books including Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Transforming Your Workforce from High Turnover to High Retention and 401 Proven Ways to Retain Your Best Employees. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, visit or call (770) 860-9464.

Keeping the workforce motivated today is a big issue. Prior to 9-11-2001, people had healthy retirement accounts. No one feared layoffs. People would leave good jobs for $1.00 an hour pay raise. We trusted our corporate executives, and we thought our families were safe from terrorism.

All that changed Sept 11. People today worry if they will have a job after the holidays. Financial savings have evaporated for many. People are working harder and many are working two or more jobs just to stay ahead. In general, we all are more cranky and distrustful. What should we do? .

Good companies are not sticking their heads in the sand. Good companies still realize people are their most important asset. Here are some innovative ideas a few organizations are using to keep morale and motivation high.

Thank-U-Grams: At Catholic Charities they have a pad of tear-off Thank-U-Grams people can send to employees for helping on projects, showing superior customer service, or for any reason. A copy is sent to the employee’s
supervisor, and copied to the employee’s HR files.

One-on-one Chat: At Plumsted School District, supervisors sit down with each employee and ask what one benefit they presently do not have that would make their job easier.

Trip to Headquarters Company: Denon Electronics offers an all-expense paid trip to their headquarters in Japan, for an employee and their family. They have lunch with CEOs, tour the factories, and have a guided tour of the city by employees. Co-workers for this coveted award select the winner.

Staff Speaks Newsletter: The Lutheran Social Services of Mid-America is a large organization, which spans three states. They created a “Staff Speaks” article in their monthly newsletter. They choose an employee from each of their four affiliates, and provide name, length of time employed at their organization, title, and a brief description of job duties. Then they ask them a “fun” question each month, such as “If you could be anyone/do anything else professionally, who/what would it be?” They take their picture, and include it with their info. This allows their staff to get to know others throughout the organization who they may not meet, or have an opportunity to interact with.

Spot Program: Abbott Laboratories implemented the “spot” program. Anyone can give a “spot” award. The award comes with a designated gift certificate (usually $25) to a variety of stores. At the end of each quarter, they collect the spot awards and place them in a box for a random drawing. The winner is pulled out, and gets an extra vacation day.

Team Assist Boards: Best Buy Company, Inc. use white boards, which are located in multiple areas within a department. Peers or managers recognize the excellence of others by writing a quick message of thanks, then post it on the board.

At IDI they have an “Esprit” Committee. It is comprised of five or six employees. They organize fun activities such as the Pet of the Month contest. A pet’s picture is put on the bulletin board and they guess who the owner is. They sponsor the Christmas giving project in which they adopt a family in need and buy gifts for all family members from donations of employees. They organize “Jean” day four times per year. When individuals donate $5 or more to the organization they are contributing to, they can wear jeans that day.

© Copyright 2002 Gregory P. Smith

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