Mohit and Reena work for the same organisation at the same level. While Mohit seems pretty satisfied with his job and is enthused to perform well, Reena feels largely disgruntled, unproductive and even degraded. Their manager realises that Reena is de-motivated, but is at his wits' end as to where he is going wrong after making all the ‘right' motivating moves!
Well, the fact is that this organisation, like most others, is using traditional and antiquated motivating tactics that are principally male-oriented. Yes, marked gender differences have been perceived in personal motivating factors as well! What can inculcate a strong desire to put in one's best and produce results in a male employee can very well drive his female counterpart to the brink of quitting the job! Workplace needs and preferences vary broadly with gender. What is important to men is not necessarily important to women and vice-versa. Yet, most organisations use the same motivating strategies across the table without taking personal motivational factors into consideration.
What women want
For the most part, men are driven by instrumental factors by higher salaries, bonus, benefits, promotion, further education and career development. They have greater anticipation for financial rewards, power and ability to impact the organisation.
Women like bonuses and career growth too. But they respond more positively to soft issues like improved interpersonal relationships, respect, courtesy, recognition, freedom, flexibility and above all, work-life balance for obvious reasons. To the extent that they are willing to take a cut in pay cheque or even forego a promotion, for say, a friendlier, stress-free work environment or telecommute option. A female executive working in the IT sector comments, “With long working hours and pressure from the home front, I used to get completely drained out at the end of the day. I was on the verge of quitting my job. My company realised my difficulty and offered me work from home option up to three days in a week. I was so motivated by this gesture that it has been three years and I am still with the organisation.”
Apart from family-friendly initiatives and flexible work arrangements like flexitime, work from home, on-site day care for children, leniency in time-off for family commitments, women also hanker after greater workplace security. For instance, pick up and drop facilities, especially for those working night shifts.
Stereotypically, women are more emotionally motivated and crave simple, day-to-day acknowledgments. Simple gestures like a flower bouquet, fruit basket or gift vouchers on special occasions, an e-mail with birthday wishes or even a verbal or written ‘You are doing a great job', will work wonders for a woman employee but may very well be lost on the men. It is not that men don't need appreciation or rewards for achievements to improve performance – but cash bonuses will work better for the male workforce while paid day offs or free lunch will work for women.
Women long for opportunities to display their talents and make a difference, that too in a serene environment, if possible. An expert recommends, “Think along the lines of relaxation CDs, meditation areas, and aromatherapy. These are small additions that many corporations have learned can greatly increase productivity among female workers.”
Learning and development opportunities work well for both the genders. But while men may be thrilled with any kind of after-hours or even out-of-town training options, women highly appreciate structured opportunities to improve knowledge or update skills during work hours itself. Or else, shorter 1-2 day programmes instead of longer stints after work.
Therefore, the key to getting women employees to give their best in the workplace is to understand what really spurs them on – even ask them outright - and use it to your advantage. But keeping the motivational techniques equal and fair is tough indeed. Managers have to don their creative hats to devise plans to use some different methods to equivalently reach all members of the workforce.
Further, remember that these are stereotypes and all men or women may not fit into the straitjacketed categories. Hence, it is important to take individual personality, goals, needs and wants into consideration as well. To sum up, customising intrinsic and extrinsic rewards based on what different employees desire the most is what will lead to a high-performing and productive workplace with improving work ethics, morale, retention and success in tow! The end result is hard-working and loyal employees.