A motivated workforce is vital to a successful business, it boosts productivity, reduces staff turnover and helps create a strong employer brand which in turn supports recruitment.
At a time when competition for the best talent is fierce, keeping hold of your best talent is even more important.
But what does that mean for businesses in our particular sector? Should engineering business be approaching this any differently to other industries?
We believe that whatever sector you are operating in, a motivated team starts with the business’s recruitment strategy.
Employing people whose values and beliefs fit those of the business they work for is the first step in making sure they are engaged in their work and focused on achieving the overall objectives of the business.
That means making an honest appraisal of what type of business you are, what your culture is and what type of person will thrive there.
Of course, one size doesn’t fit all. The range of different personalities in the engineering sector is as broad as it is anywhere else. Some employees will want to work as part of a team, some will be motivated by upholding and improving best practice, while others will be driven by the opportunity to innovate and break down barriers.
That’s why we put a lot of effort into finding out exactly what motivates our candidates before we put them forward for a role. We don’t just rely on what they tell us – we use models like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the Herzberg model of motivation to drill down into what is important to them now and what their ambitions are for the future.
This approach includes asking every candidate why they are leaving their current role. What we have found is that the overwhelming reason engineers look for a new job is because they are not feeling challenged, or don’t believe there is scope for progression in their current role. That’s perhaps not surprising given that the person typically attracted to engineering is likely to be intellectually curious and driven by finding new solutions.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that development and progression does not necessarily mean promotion. For many engineers the opportunity to develop new skills and experiences is more important than promotion to a management role for example. Salary and benefits, although basic motivators, are also typically given less weight than the opportunity to take on fresh challenges.
Opportunities for personal and professional development can be limited in some organisations where the field of work is very specific or repetitive, so employers may need to think creatively about how they can offer these within the structure of their business.
Key to motivation is certainly offering as many learning opportunities as possible. Engineers also thrive on working on meaningful projects, providing context to the work being undertaken as part of the wider business objectives will also increase engagement.
Engineers thrive on new and interesting technical challenges, which is great news for businesses which then benefit from a workforce that naturally strives to do things better and more efficiently.