Good managers know that employees need to feel a sense of reward for their work. They’ve been working for decades to crack the code and improve employee motivation strategies. Commonly, managers say their go-to plan is to sit with individual employees and work on career development. It’s one of the few things managers can control. They help people develop, hoping it’ll keep them happy and fulfilled in their work environment. But is that enough?

Employee motivation is crucial to having a successful company. Motivated employees are more engaged, productive, and committed to their work. This leads to higher levels of job satisfaction and overall job performance. Those who feel engaged with their work are 87% less likely to quit their jobs, yet only 15% of employees actually feel engaged. It can be difficult to understand what motivates employees and how to effectively align their work tasks with those motivators. This article explores the concept of job sculpting, emphasizing aligning work tasks with individual motivators to keep your employees motivated and happy.

Understanding Employee Motivation

When it comes to motivating employees, it is important to understand the factors that drive their engagement and satisfaction in the workplace. Employee motivation can be influenced by a number of factors both within and outside the workplace. Factors such as recognition, prestige, problem-solving, family, friendship, and impact all play a role in what motivates employees. These are among the 23 main motivators we found that significantly influence how and why people work the way they do. Recognizing these key differences in each person is a crucial first step in designing effective employee motivation strategies.

Figuring out what each employee is motivated by out of these 23 is the first step. Talk to your employees, listen carefully to their answers, and/or have them take the Motivator’s Assessment. These are all ways to identify their top motivators as well as things that don’t motivate them as much. Once you’ve identified these, it might be helpful to list them all out so you can compare teammates with each other. This can be incredibly helpful in creating teams that work well together, identifying tension points between co-workers, and assigning tasks. This also helps you see a team as a whole to identify any shared motivators that might be useful for team motivation ideas.

If you have a person on the team who is highly motivated by developing others and problem-solving, consider them next time you’re looking for a team lead or manager. If you have someone motivated by excelling and problem-solving, allow them to take the lead on the next difficult customer issue. If you notice the team as a whole is motivated by variety, direct some diverse assignments at them to keep them engaged. This can also be helpful if two people don’t get along as well as others. Someone who is more motivated by fun and friendship might clash with someone who isn’t as motivated by those things. Understanding the nuances of each individual as well as the team dynamic is a vital first step in the job sculpting process.

The Concept of Job Sculpting

Job sculpting is one of many employee motivation strategies that involve alterations to an employee’s current role to align better with their strengths, interests, and motivators. This doesn’t always have to be a dramatic shift. It might involve something more drastic such as shifting an employee to a different team or job role entirely. We have found this to be far less common. Small changes can make a huge difference.

When possible, give employees a little more of the tasks they love and a little less of the ones they are frustrated by. More often than not, these small changes in work situations and responsibilities are all that are necessary. This concept doesn’t have to be as dramatic and complicated as some make it out to be. When people’s jobs allow them to do more projects or tasks that satisfy their key motivators, they will be happier and more engaged in their work. They don’t need to quit and try to find their dream job. Instead of making a risky leap, they just need some small changes in their current role. 

Hobbies vs. Passions

A study done on Harvard MBAs found that they were far more likely to stay in their job role if the work matched their passions. Passions aren’t necessarily always what someone is good at, but rather what the kinds of activities are that make them happy. In the workplace, that happiness often turns into commitment. Companies can gain a competitive edge in hiring the best talent by demonstrating that personal development is a priority. When managers or companies as a whole encourage employees to learn, grow, and manage their careers, they’ll have an easier time hiring top talent.

This can be done by tailoring small responsibilities and assignments to your employees that align with their passions. This doesn’t mean you need to waste time or resources making up fake tasks to try and make people happy. This is about getting things that you need to be done assigned to people who will enjoy them and do them successfully. Just because someone loves something and wants to do it doesn’t mean they are good at it. Things we love but aren’t very good at are hobbies. Sometimes we have to accept that people aren’t always good at the things they love.

When assigning these tasks, it’s important to only assign things that the employee is already good at or can realistically improve with time and effort. Work is about more than pursuing passions. But if it’s possible to tailor some tasks or a job position to align an employee’s talents and enthusiasm with their job responsibilities, do it. It’s a win-win situation when done properly. You get a task done you need to be completed and the employee gets to do something that brings them joy. This, in turn, creates more job satisfaction and better retention. 

Strategies for Job Sculpting

So, how do we put this into practice? How do we identify the tasks that first need to be completed and, second, given to someone who will enjoy and be fulfilled by the work? An important part of this process is listening. Listen to the little things your employees say, comments about their interests or side projects they do after work. Employee motivation strategies aren’t one size fits all. Here are a few ways to implement job sculpting:

Task Redesign

As mentioned earlier, task redesign is making changes to a person’s job responsibilities. These usually just need to be small tweaks. For example, an employee who has a photography interest could be asked to photograph work events or parties. Someone in sales with interest in quantitative analysis could be given a stretch assignment to do market research while still selling. This takes some resourcefulness, but you can make it happen by paying attention to details.

Job Rotation and Enrichment

Job sculpting can also provide an employee opportunities to work between different departments or teams. This allows the employee to gain exposure to new challenges or experiences in addition to their existing skills and interests. Job enrichment involves adding more complex and meaningful tasks to an employee’s existing role. This helps provide a sense of growth and accomplishment.

Flexibility and Autonomy

Depending on the employee’s specific motivators, giving people more flexibility and autonomy can be a powerful motivator. This can look like giving them more control over their schedule, involving them in decision-making processes, or offering flexibility to work from home. This can provide a sense of empowerment and a work-life balance.

Recognition and Feedback

Regular recognition of those who are motivated by it and feedback in appropriate ways is essential. Acknowledging employees’ contributions in a way they are comfortable with and providing constructive feedback helps them understand their strengths and where they need to improve. This information is vital in the job sculpting process by assigning tasks that capitalize on their strengths. You’ll just want to take care of how you provide feedback and recognition. People with recognition high on their motivator list will be thrilled to be called out in the company newsletter for their hard work. Others who don’t value recognition as much would prefer other means of being recognized for their labors.

Motivated employees are the backbone of successful organizations. Job sculpting is one of many employee motivation strategies that can keep employees engaged and fulfilled in their work. You can help your employees be productive, engaged, and satisfied by aligning tasks with individual motivators. Identifying employee motivators and implementing job sculpting by redesigning tasks, job rotation, enrichment, flexibility, and recognition all contribute to happier employees. Maintain open lines of communication and regularly evaluate your motivation strategies to ensure they continue to meet the ever-changing needs of your employees. Take the time to invest in employee motivation strategies. Doing so creates a positive work culture, promotes individual growth, improves retention, and empowers your organization to succeed.

Schedule a free call with an employee motivation expert and find out how FindMojo’s Motivator Assessment helps organizations identify and align work tasks with motivators.

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