There’s a good deal of research out there that indicates that employees who are happy, engaged and committed in their jobs are more productive and more loyal workers. There’s also research that shows that higher employee satisfaction in a company often correlates with higher customer engagement, satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Many of us security practitioners may glance at statements like these and assume they’re meant for the VPs and the CEOs eyes only. That’s their job, that’s their responsibility as the business leaders of the company and the crafters of the corporate culture, right?
Not really. Yes, it is their job on a company-wide level, but it’s our job too. If we have staff, then engaging and motivating them is our job, too.
It’s good for business. I think that everyone in a supervisory or management role in a company should view themselves as responsible for the well-being and success of that company, no matter where that person is located on the reporting chain. A strong bottom line is good news for all of us, and there’s evidence that employee satisfaction contributes to a strong bottom line. The findings of a 2001 study published in Personnel Psychology journal, for instance, supports the idea that employee satisfaction, behavior and turnover can be good predictors of company profitability and customer satisfaction.
It’s good for security. I believe that you get more from a carrot than a stick. More than likely, if you’re not motivating your employees, no one else is. They are not being as productive as they can, and they’re not performing to their utmost potential. More motivated employees are more aware, more innovative and more engaged, which means, in our context, better security, business continuity, executive protection or emergency management.
It’s good for us. It’s a lot easier to do your own job well when you’re not surrounded by negative, apathetic or disengaged co-workers and employees. If you can successfully motivate and engage your staff, they will be more likely to want to work with and for you.

It’s Not Always Easy

Motivating staff is easier in some atmospheres than in others. If a corporate culture of employee appreciation and engagement already exists in your company, chances are there are motivational tools built into the system. The top 10 on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list tend to have stellar benefits, great compensation and unconventional frills for employees. But a lot of companies don’t have that kind of baked-in positive culture, and some who used to have it have marginalized or abandoned it to focus on the bottom line in the economic recession.      
Pay cuts and layoffs are demoralizing, particularly if they’re done the wrong way. If your company is dealing with employees in such a way that it makes them feel they’re being treated unfairly, their first inclination is probably to shift most of their on-the-clock effort from doing their job to looking for a new one.
In these situations, you may feel that motivating your staff is an uphill battle. Not only do you have to counteract the effect of the overall apathy and anxiety permeating your company, but you have to put on your game face and be a little more optimistic yourself. Griping along with employees about the ills of management is not going to motivate anyone; you have to accentuate the positive and find ways to take care of your people.
Here are some things you can do to help motivate your employees, whether you have the support of the corporate culture or not.
  • Identify all the benefits the company offers, from tuition reimbursement to 401(k) matching contributions, and make sure your staff knows about them and recognizes the importance of taking advantage of them.
  • Give your employees SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals. This will help them feel a sense of accomplishment on a regular basis.
  • Tell them when they’re doing a good job.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of small gestures, like having an occasional casual dress code day.
  • Make some sacrifices, like taking the team out to lunch even if you have to pay out of pocket.
  • Break out of the ordinary. Have off-site team-building exercises when you can, or invite an outside speaker to speak at a team meeting, for example.

Learn as You Go

If you’re not naturally charismatic or inspiring, that doesn’t mean you can’t do a good job of motivating your employees. This kind of skill can be learned. Do a self analysis or get a coach or a peer group to help you assess your motivational skills and offer you methods for improvement. Read. There are a lot of books out there about the components of leadership and how to motivate people.
Think about how you can motivate your staff members and then take action. Be motivational. I believe you will find that it is well worth the effort.