With the number of job vacancies at an all-time high, more and more business owners are on the lookout for suitable candidates to fill important roles within the business. Quality applicants are few and far between and with such a small pool to select from, finding the ‘right’ person has never been more challenging.

So, when a highly skilled and favourable candidate who has the potential to add real value across the business walks into an interview, it’s not uncommon for employers to scramble to secure them, sometimes focussing less on the role at hand and more on the potential of the candidate.

The problem with this approach, however, is that an employee in the wrong job will eventually lead to low job satisfaction, a lack of engagement, and regardless of how good the benefits or company culture are, can quickly turn into an unhappy employee who eventually seeks out other job opportunities.

What is the motivation factor and why is it important?

During the selection and recruitment process, employers sometimes focus on the skills of the employee and the value added to the business, often overlooking the motivation factor. However, an employee is most likely to succeed in a role at the intersection of all three of these things: skills, value and motivation.

Does the employee have suitable skills to fulfil the requirements of the role? Does the employee bring value to the business and feel valued by the business? Is the employee motivated to fulfil the requirements of the role, and then strive for more?

Motivation is a big indicator of an employee’s desire to work harder and seek out improving areas of the business – both within and outside the usual responsibilities of the role. A motivated employee will actively offer solutions and add value to other parts of the business without being asked, and use initiative to get things done.

These types of behaviours, while ideal, are unlikely to happen if an employee 1) has low job satisfaction; 2) lacks engagement; and 3) doesn’t see any opportunities outside of their current position.

What can I do to improve employee motivation?

Selection and recruitment – Including insights that reveal the motivations of a candidate during the selection and recruitment process is the first step to ensuring a good fit. Assessments that ascertain the cognitive and hard skills of an individual, can also include questions and scenarios that offer insight as to what motivates a candidate, helping to provide a more holistic overview.

These types of assessments should also be encouraged throughout the employee lifecycle, as part of the development process, in order to continuously look at an employee’s strengths, weaknesses, preferences and any gaps that could be filled with training; as these will and do change over time.

Onboarding – Businesses should aim to create a positive and hands on onboarding experience to ensure new employees have a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities from day one. An onboarding buddy can assist new starters in navigating the new work environment and scheduling 30, 60 and 90 day reviews will help new employees to assess if the role is the right fit, and vice versa.

Training and development – In some instances, new employees simply need further training and development in order to fulfil the requirements of the role and achieve job satisfaction. Employers should have an honest conversation about the employee’s strengths and weaknesses, and understand their key motivators and drivers in order to determine whether or not it’s a good fit, and what can be done to address any gaps.

Why communication is key?

Employers should keep the lines of communication open and undertake a frank conversation about any issues or concerns that do arise. Speaking candidly with the employee and allowing them do the same in a respectful way, can only benefit both parties.

Hiring a talented employee and soon finding out that the role is unsuitable doesn’t have to end in disaster. Communicating clearly and honestly through the selection and recruitment process and during the probation period can quickly determine if both the employer and the employee have the right fit. If not, these types of issues should be addressed as soon as possible.

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