Healthcare News & Insights

Freedom, not pay, is the best employee motivator, says management expert

Though in many industries, there are still a lot of job seekers competing for a few jobs, that’s not the case in health care – especially when it comes to IT employees. 

In that case, the situation is often reversed, with many organizations competing for health IT workers in a small talent pool. As more hospitals and providers need IT expertise to install and maintain electronic health records and other systems, IT professionals are finding themselves in high demand.

While that’s good news for people with skills and experience in healthcare technology, it creates big challenges for healthcare organizations, who must work harder than ever to attract and retain health IT employees and get the most from a staff that’s becoming increasingly expensive.

But there is some good news for organizations: Keeping and motivating employees doesn’t always require a big pay increase.

In fact, according to one think tank, non-monetary factors can actually be more effective at motivating employees. Giving a pay raise can have a positive impact at first, but the effect wears off quickly, said Malcolm Higgs, Professor of Organisation Behaviour and director of the School of Management at Southampton University, in a recent article in the Telegraph.

What’s more effective? Freedom, he said. Employees are the most motivated when they have freedom over the way they do their work. They want to have involvement in decisions that affect them, and that includes decisions about their own tasks.

Of course, money is important — if you don’t pay market rates, people will leave — but paying more generally won’t get employees to work harder, Higgs said.

Some other strategies management experts recommend: Thank and praise employees when they do a good job, and ask people what incentives they would like to receive. They may want some low-cost benefits that you hadn’t even thought about.

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