Moiz Bhamani, an EO Calgary member, and president and CEO of Prime Real Estate Group
Keeping people motivated and focused can be a really big challenge. When the economic downturn hit, my organization—Prime Real Estate Group—was just a fledgling company. People became immediately fearful for their jobs, more so as the downturn persisted. Work/life balance was also becoming a challenge, with people working late to prove themselves. “If someone goes it won’t be me,” I could see them thinking. I quickly realized that something had to be done if my eager, but fearful, workers were not going to get burned out.
In my mind, work/life balance and motivation are clearly linked. Take Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, for example. It is doubtful that people can reach the level of self-actualisation if their basic needs of sleep and rest are not taken care of at the lower levels. For me, this means that work/life balance is a key focus at Prime. It’s a cliché, but people really are our greatest asset. Keeping them motivated and engaged is essential. I’d say that Herzberg’s classic Motivators-Hygiene factors also support this. Work/life balance can be seen as a policy, which means that it would be a hygiene factor. What that means is that without work/life balance, people quickly become demotivated. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
The truth is, work/life balance is fast becoming the number one “benefit” that employees want from their employers. This is the case now more than ever before now that Generation Y is fully integrated into the workplace. Generation Y is known to value work/life balance much more than previous generations, and this is vital for their motivation. Motivation is also a proven driver of employee engagement. A Gallup survey found that when employees are engaged, the profits of an organization may increase by as much as 40%. And that’s not all. It was also found that engagement is linked with customers who are 70% more loyal, and a significant reduction in employee turnover, too.
None of this is really news. Back in 1999, Coffman and Buckingham noted that when employees working in the retail industry were highly engaged (top 25% rated engagement), their sales figures were found to be US$104 million higher than those companies where employees were least engaged (bottom 25% rated engagement). Towers Perrin also found that operating income was 52% lower in companies where employees are not motivated. Even though it is not news, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of figures like this, which show just how important motivation is to a productive and profitable workforce.
Work/life balance is just one aspect of helping people get motivated in my business. This is achieved through engaging not just the staff but also their families. We’re a small, tight-knit company, and we want everyone to feel a part of that. That’s why families are also invited to celebrate our successes. Through trial and error, we’ve also found other ways of keeping the team highly motivated. Going back to Herzberg, recognition is a big part of this process. I launched a staff appreciation initiative to help with this. We get together every other Friday, and each staff member is asked to “recognize” another staff member for something very specific that they have done during the previous weeks. This costs nothing but adds an incredible “feel good” factor into the workplace, and has people leaving work feeling motivated.=
Trust is also an important part of our work/life balance; everyone at Prime is considered a manager. Not only that, but for one week every two months, a staff member from one department leads those in another department. You might think that sounds crazy, but it keeps people on their toes and engaged. Promoting a charity that the team is interested in has also helped, as it makes people feel as if they are really contributing something worthwhile. And peer appreciation is especially motivational because it is encouraged and rewarded between departments and divisions. This has added another level of culture building, as it encourages staff to learn about each other and the “whole business unit,” while at the same time appreciate one another’s job functions. All of this has increased employee motivation, productivity and retention in my company, and I find it continues to create a generally happy workplace for all.