Helping employees flourish is everyone’s business

What motivates today’s employees?

If you answered “compensation,” you might be interested in knowing a study conducted in 2022 showed that 56 % of employees prioritize stability and balance over salary. Beyond compensation, employees value development and inclusion as top workplace motivating factors. Here’s why.

Since starting my master’s program, I have had the opportunity to review literature related to how behaviors change inside organizations and the psychology behind what it means to feel as if you are flourishing within your role. I have been able to put into practice many of the concepts within these areas of research, as both an individual and on an organizational level to test the impact myself. Here are some takeaways that I hope you find useful for your organization.

It’s important to note that an individual’s need to thrive, and leadership development programs are not a “one size fits all” scenario. The need to thrive and leadership development programs go hand in hand. From an organizational development perspective, the process of collecting and examining data to identify the problem can yield valuable solutions, but you have to take action on the data to see an impact.

Let’s start with flourishing as an individual in the workplace. If you feel motivated and happy you can skip to the next section for how the organization supports flourishing:

  • Job crafting is quickly becoming a buzz word in the organizational development field. It’s a great conversation starter between employees and leaders. Job crafting empowers you to examine how you are spending your time at work and find a way to increase time for the tasks that fuel your passion. It is not a way to get rid of the tasks you don’t like, but instead to dig into how you can better manage your projects or delegate as needed.
    We all have parts of our jobs that we don’t love doing, but doing the front-end work to see how you manage your time on tasks may paint a picture of how you can ignite more passion for yourself while simultaneously allowing you to strike a conversation with your leader on how to support your passions.
  • Individuals need to feel that their work is meaningful. My position allows me to build a strategy behind new, trending ways to offer education and develop our future credit union leaders. There is nothing better than celebrating the career milestones of students who have come through our ever evolving programs, helping them find their passions and watching them flourish. It fills my cup!
    Ask yourself what you love about your role. Lean into that, find guidance (mentor), write a plan, and put your heart and soul into your chosen career. Bring life back into the position and create the change you want to see.
  • If you may be an emerging leader, here is a bit of advice. There will always be a game of give and take when you are pathing your career and there will always be politics along the way in every organization. When faced with internal conflict, rely on your self-awareness, and stay true to your values and beliefs to uncover the right path. Compromising your values may cause more harm than good such as loss of identity and resentment toward your employer.

If you’re interested in helping your employees flourish, look at the professional development journey for your employees and ask yourself: Does it look like spaghetti that’s being thrown at the wall? A little here, a little there, and maybe a noodle hanging from the ceiling? Nothing remains consistent and no pathway has been created or identified. You have just taken a step toward identifying the problem.

  • Career pathing, career pathing, career pathing! This does not have to be an expensive endeavor, but you do need to commit time, energy, and ongoing support for the initiative. It starts with communication and a document! While you may think pay alone is what is causing decreased engagement, you would be surprised to know that a higher percentage of employees state achievements and recognition go further to engage them than pay alone. This is based on the two-factor theory of motivation proposed by psychologist Frederick Herzberg. Sure, pay is important to our livelihoods, but to truly motivate and engage your employees we must think beyond compensation.
  • Build your development program from the ground up. Development programs, especially leadership development programs, should be tied to your strategic initiatives and embedded in your organization’s culture with a competency framework. Most leadership development programs fail because they miss this critical step in the process. With many programs available on the market, choosing one is more than just looking at the bells and whistles and the brand name of who is offering it and it is often more beneficial if you can create the program from the ground up, making it specific to your organization. Your leaders will see the impact they are making to the organization if the content of the program is chosen based on sound data.
  • Open a feedback loop. Utilize assessment tools and 360-degree feedback consistently before, during, and after all development program completions. This is going to help the organization measure learning agility in the employees, while also allowing the employee to visually see and hear their accomplishments.
    Research shows that leadership programs which utilize these tools and align with the strategic goals of the organization, are more likely to see impact to the organization and in turn foster organizational commitment from the employee.

Your employees are your greatest asset. The responsibility is not one-sided: both the individual and the organization must commit to being involved in the process of engagement. The conversation has to start somewhere. As an individual, I want to empower you to ask for your plan, work with your organization to ignite your passion. If you are in a leading position, and you are truly leading, then it’s time to stop the lip service and start working to plan your succession by bringing people along on the journey through a formal process.

There is a large amount of research available on the correlation between growth and development programs embedded into the organization’s mission, vision, and values. So as a closing note to my organizational development family and C-suite, it’s time to make the case to formalize a program and career paths for the organization’s future. If you are ever interested in chatting about the possibilities, I would be honored to discuss the research and exchange ideas.

Studies to examine:

  • How are top companies designing and managing their high-potential programs? A follow-up talent management benchmark study. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research
  • Setting the stage: Feedback environment improves outcomes for a 360-degree-feedback leader-development program.Consulting Psychology Journal
  • Essential Components of Leadership Development programs. Journal of Managerial Issues
Amber Bailey

Amber Bailey

With over a decade of experience in developing and creating content specific to the credit union industry, Amber specializes in applying adult learning theory to the corporate training environment. She ... Web: Details