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7 December 2015
Employee Motivation



Point 5 in the series My 7 Point Plan to Perfecting Business Performance

As a business owner, or senior Manager, do you sometimes feel you’re not exactly getting your money’s worth from your employees?  Do you hear the phrase A Fair Days Pay for a Fair Days Work ringing in your ears, whilst your employees are feeling Over Worked and Under Paid?

With the introduction of the National Living Wage looming in the not too distant future, you’ll be keener than ever to ensure you receive the best return for your money from your people, but keeping the workplace fair and just is a difficult balance to strike.  What feels fair varies from person to person, and from one workplace to another.

A fair days pay for a fair days work is certainly one element of workplace fairness, but so are values such as honesty and respect.  It’s not uncommon to hear employees moaning about the fact that they’re working their cotton socks off whilst the person at the next desk spends most of their day filing nails, on face book, or spends half the time in the car park on smoke breaks.  Managing teams of people to ensure that those with less initiative or self-motivation to get on with their work, who prefer to find distractions to waste away their paid working hours, is a fine balance and requires skill in knowing and understanding how each individual works.

Research has demonstrated that employees’ perception of fairness and equitable treatment is a core driver of retention, engagement and performance.  Unfair treatment is corrosive, and the mere perception that someone has been treated unfairly can have a devastating effect on the organization because it

  • Creates a climate of distrust and hostility
  • Erodes performance and employee commitment to the organization
  • Increases counter-productive work behavior
  • Reduces the willingness of employees to help each other
  • Increases unionizing activity
  • Increases voluntary turnover and absenteeism

And all of the above have consequences on the cost of running your business.


OFF – Objective, Fair and Factual

At Alluxi Consulting, I advocate the OFF method for ensuring there is no ambiguity or subjectivity in the workplace, which are invariably the key causes of problems and grievances.  I strongly advise that any decision-making process or management of people should be based on information, facts and figures – rather than gut feel, or perception.  Objective and Factual are easier to manage and apply, but whether a decision, policy or practice is Fair is not so easy to prove.

Questions of fairness can be created at many points in the work cycle of an employee, starting right from the point of recruitment. I’ll use this process by way of example to show how fairness can be transparent.

Selecting the right candidate for the job should be the first point where clear and transparent selection criteria will avoid any doubt as to why individual A is selected over individual B.  I’ve used scoring systems in the past; listing between 5 to 10 of the critical qualities I need from an individual to meet the needs of the job description.  This list of criteria provides a framework of questions to structure your interviews, making sure you focus on those qualities in your line of questioning.

Scoring these key qualities using a scale of, lets say, 1 to 5 (where 1 is weak and 5 is strong) will give you an overall score for each candidate, providing you with an objective indicator as to which person best suits your needs.  This method is equally, if not more, important when promoting internally, and having to select from a number of your existing employees.

The person who you like the most simply because you get on better with them, or have more of an affinity towards, may not necessarily be the best candidate for the job.  You have to leave your subjectivity and emotions out of the equation if you want to be seen to be Fair and Objective.


Friction and Hostility

Other areas where questions of fairness may arise are where the organization has previously awarded certain benefits to the job, and then changes the terms of employment with new people joining the business.  I’ve witnessed this cause friction over issues such as non-performance related reward or bonus schemes, use of company pool cars, issuing of company credit cards, different allowances for sick leave, length of holidays etc.

If some employees are treated differently, or seen to be gaining benefits over and above other employees, you may start to feel levels of hostility rising between the staff members and this will create an us and them environment.


Strategies and Solutions

So, at the core of fairness is a sense of all employees being valued and treated in a consistent and evenhanded way.  This is particularly important during times of great organizational change, or business growth when the conditions of employment may be evolving almost daily.

ACAS, in their report Building Productivity in the UK, identify that fair treatment involves tackling the challenges posed by relationships at work.  This might involve

  • Seeking strategies to change the organizational culture, so it does more to tackle unfair treatment and promote diversity.
  • Responding to those individuals who feel unfairly treated to ensure that their problems are taken seriously.
  • Tackling underlying triggers of poor workplace relationships such as stress caused by workloads or lack of management support.
  • Reflecting on management styles and the way relationships are conducted day to day.

Ultimately, fair treatment is inextricably bound up with employees feeling that their wellbeing is taken into account.  Organisational productivity is heavily influenced and impacted by an employees sense of wellbeing.

Some believe that workers are up to 12% more productive when they’re happy, and if your employees are happy their attitude will reflect in the way they work with your clients, and your clients should see a difference in the level of service they receive.  Managed correctly, you’ll not only feel a difference amongst the workers, but in the overall performance of your company.


Next Time …….

Point 6 of The 7 Point Plan to Perfecting Business Performance

Can you Hear your Employees?

Employee voice is about providing information to people at work, enabling them to stay informed, have their say and be involved in the decision making process to help contribute to the overall productivity of the business.  Next week I’ll be looking at how listening to your staff enhances work place performance.



For further reading about some of the references in my blog, and to help you and your Managers, I can thoroughly recommend the following:

What Feels Fair? – Sir Brendan Barber, ACAS – August 2015

Fairness in the Workplace – Stephanie Reyes, – January 2014

ACAS – Building Productivity in the UK – June 2015


Alluxi is here to offer you support through these times of change, bringing a facts and figures approach to evolve your business and realise your goals.

As a first step towards identifying your current business challenges and evaluating where your future opportunities exist within your business, we invite you to complete the in-depth Alluxi Business Success Scorecard delving into the 10 key critical success areas.

Take 15 minutes to respond to the scorecard and get your results within minutes.  You’ll have the opportunity to book a follow-up Productivity to Profit Breakthrough Session to find out how you can implement rapid and measurable improvements.