Recruiting an elite team of high-performing marketing talent is one of the most important things you can do to secure the future growth of your business. But it’s not enough to just know how to hire great marketing talent; you must also be able to give them the right direction and keep them motivated.
Today’s marketing is extremely demanding, and burnout is high. Expectations and responsibilities of the marketing department are growing in many directions, and if your team doesn’t have the right incentives you’re likely to fall behind.
So what really motivates today’s marketers? A recent study by behavioral economist Dan Ariely sheds some light on the best ways to spark productivity. The results might surprise you!
Better Pay Pays Off
The most obvious motivation method that might come to mind is cash incentives.
Pay raises, bonus, performance-based incentives, and the like certainly can be effective motivators for just about everyone. In fact, they’re definitely something you should keep in mind if you want to attract and retain top marketing talent. Top-shelf marketing expertise comes with a corresponding price tag.
But they can also be, well, expensive–assuming you’re not offering insultingly small amounts. And they come with certain complications. It can be difficult to distribute them across your team fairly, and they can set unrealistic long-term compensation expectations that your organization isn’t in a position to deliver on.
But perhaps most interesting, financial incentives aren’t even near the top for best motivators for employees. The best marketing recruitment agencies will tell you that top marketing talent, while valuing compensation, has other priorities in mind. In his experiments, Ariely found that cash incentives, especially short-term ones, fell well short of other simple motivators; like…
Yes, something as straightforward as a steaming-hot pizza can lead to more productivity than extrinsic motivation like financial incentives.
Of course, it doesn’t always have to be pizza. Sure a cheese-smothered free lunch is almost always a crowd pleaser. But there’s plenty of room for creativity. In fact, given the public’s growing interest in healthier eating and lifestyles, it may be wiser to keep pizza to an occasional offering rather than your standard go-to.
Don’t get too fixated on the pizza itself as some kind of magic Italian productivity booster. Focus on what it means and the wants and needs it fulfills. Obviously it’s free food–you’ll rarely find people complain about that. But consider many of the aspects of pizza that make it such a good reward:
- It’s a spontaneous reward that can be provided with just a quick phone call. You can provide it at the times you deem appropriate with minimal planning. Sometimes the timing of recognition and motivation are more impactful than any carrots you’re trying to dangle. A modest incentive delivered at just the right time can be more effective than something greater that takes a lot of effort but doesn’t have much emotional and environmental context.
- It brings people together. A high-performing marketing operation is busy. And though the people in it may like each other well enough, they’ll often be too occupied with their daily tasks to pause for a while and take the time to interact with anyone outside of their immediate team. A stack of pizzas (or other popular analogue) brings folks together for actual, human interaction–something that can be all too rare in many workplaces. That not only improves morale; it can also foster ties of collaboration, creativity, and trust that lead to better marketing.
- It’s an extrinsic reward that doesn’t lead to entitlement. Everyone likes getting paid a little more. But when it happens, people tend not to view it as an additional reward or motivator–they see it as getting something they’ve already earned and deserve. While that might lead to some valuable personal and professional satisfaction, it generally doesn’t improve productivity. In fact, according to the research, immediate financial reward can actually lower output.
Given those key factors, you can probably think of a number of potential motivators you can use to motivate your team. Various kinds of food, events, and other rewards can have a similar effect. But even the most delicious pizza can barely compete with yet another, even simpler factor:
If you offer employees a choice between a small cash incentive and a compliment, most will almost always choose the former. However, Ariely’s study, as well as many others, shows that recognition of a job well done actually tends to increase job satisfaction and productivity considerably more than financial incentives.
The best kind of recognition to provide your marketers will vary from person to person. Some will appreciate public praise, others will prefer such communication to happen more privately. Some will react to a personalized verbal thank-you; others will respond better to more tangible motivators like a new job title or responsibility. It’s up to you and your management team to understand the individuals in your department and cater your praise accordingly.
Good marketers know the importance of 1-to-1 communication. Translate that to your employee relations! Adding personal touches and recognizing milestones like birthdays and anniversaries are also incredibly effective.
Compliments and recognition, when given authentically and specifically about a certain aspect of your marketers’ work, never get old. Once you know how to hire great marketing talent and have a fully stocked team of experts, make sure they know how much you appreciate their efforts and contributions!
Creating a Culture of Motivation
Motivating your marketers shouldn’t be an occasional afterthought that you simply order a pizza for. It’s something that should be baked into your workplace environment. Creating a culture where success is celebrated and achievements are recognized requires more than the occasional incentive. Develop and environment that fosters input and feedback from your team, and take the time to learn what motivates them on a group and individual level.