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Employee Motivation: How to Motivate Employees with Lower Salaries

by robertr

August 9th, 2013
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Recently, a Dale Carnegie Training-lead European study found that those who made $200,000 or more were typically the most fully engaged. That leaves a large chunk of lower-paid employees who can be better engaged. Of course, it’s not altogether surprising that higher paid employees would be more motivated than those with lower compensation packages. Money is an excellent incentive! But replacing any level of employee is considerably more expensive than retaining them, so your goal should be to motivate all of your employees. Here’s how to motivate employees and make sure everyone is happy, healthy and working at their full potential — no matter what their pay rate.

Value your team

Dale Carnegie Training research has found that the single most important factor affecting engagement and employee motivation is one’s relationship with his or her immediate supervisor. “Therefore, managers must develop outstanding people skills if they want to cultivate and maintain positive relationships and engaged employees,” says career consultant Debra Davenport. “Today’s manager should serve as a coach, mentor and facilitator, guiding employees to successful completion of tasks and projects.” Even if you’re swamped, take five minutes and reach out to your most vulnerable employees — particularly the lowest paid ones. A crucial step in this process? Calling them by name.

Find out what motivates employees

Yes, raises and bonuses can motivate employees, but in today’s economy, that’s not always an option. So take a moment to speak to individuals on your staff about how they would like to be recognized. “Consider the sales manager who decides to motivate his sales team by offering a trip to Hawaii as a reward for the highest quarterly sales. This particular tactic may resonate with some staff members, but perhaps not to the individual who is afraid to fly,” says Davenport. “Reward and recognition programs should never be designed with a one-size-fits-all approach.” For instance, a busy mom might appreciate a flexible schedule or a couple of Fridays off more than a fancy celebratory party. Dale Carnegie Training research has shown that when a manager takes an interest in their employees’ lives (including their work/family balance), engagement is increased.

Be generous with praise

Thanking someone for a job well done costs nothing — but can mean everything. “At the bottom end (as in a support or admin role) employees often feel unrecognized and unappreciated,” says career coach Elizabeth Lions. Dale Carnegie trainers teach that it is essential for leaders to focus more on praising what’s going well than criticizing what is going wrong. Even small “thanks” can motivate employees. “You’d be surprised how far a 10 dollar Starbucks card means to a lower end employee. Again, low cost, but shows effort and appreciation,” says Lions.

Show them their impact

If your employees feel valued, they will value their position at the company. “But the reality is that the more someone is paid the more they are valued by the company that is in fact paying them and therefore they are in turn more likely to feel valued,” says workplace consultant and author Michael Carroll. At the bottom levels of your corporation, your employees may simply feel like cogs in a wheel. They don’t get to see success up close — and may only hear from senior management when something goes wrong. For instance, an administrative assistant may not be present when a big deal is signed, even though he or she contributed to it. But that same assistant will definitely hear about it if a mistake gets made in their department. So make sure to thank people, and explain how they contributed in some way to your company’s success. This will help them feel valued, even if their salary remains lower.

All four of these actions will help raise engagement, improve retention and create loyalty among all of your employees — whatever their salary. 

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  1. Jaison Kandamkulathil /

    We need to be fair.
    I used to help people telling them about the fact: need to do the assigned duty to the best to get the best reward in any form.