In a pay freeze or job cut how do you motivate staff? And does fairness matter?

It’s surprising how we just know fairness is a crucial factor in the survival of social organisations.  Long periods of pay freeze are causing many organizations concerns. And in the public sector, morale is seriously affected by the number of redundancies in prospect.

We work to help organisations get the best out of their people. For example, we are working on employee incentive and motivation frameworks with HR clients, to help senior managers understand how threatened people feel by issues of uncertainty and a possible loss of status.

This is impacting on teams’ abilities to carry out their current duties and, even though change has not yet happened, its effects are already causing considerable concern. Working with HR, we’ve been creating Certainty Workshops – ways to offer clarity regarding what is likely to happen next, to give people some choices and autonomy.

Already we have reports that the approach is working.  Staff feel they are being paid attention to (affecting their Status concerns,) and are being given more information and a sense of Certainty.  Where there are choices that can be offered, people take the initiative and regain some Autonomy.  They tell us they feel listened to and have a sense of Relatedness and, above all there is a better feeling of Fairness that they will not be picked out randomly.

Fascinatingly, new neuroscience shows that the brain reads these kind of social threats in the same way as physical one; the same pain centres light up.  It’s a phenomenon higher mammals cannot avoid – fairness is a biological imperative.

In difficult times it is key to disseminate information and provide as much certainty as possible, to help colleagues become more resilient – however they will be impacted by the changes. We enable people we work with to help understand the motivation and engagement of teams and we’d be delighted to help you head off worries, and keep outputs higher in these pressured times.

You might be interested to learn more about the SCARF theory of Dr David Rock of the Neuroleadership Institute.  Email for a free copy of his research paper or sign up for updates on our work here.

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