How to Motivate Staff and Get Results

Posted on the 12 June 2019

How to Motivate Staff and Get Results

The vital issue of motivating staff and creating the most effective workplace culture was the focus of the latest Entrepreneurs’ Forum round table debate.

Chaired by Peter Slee, Managing Director of Spark Response (part of the Whistl Group), the round table comprised of Entrepreneurs’ Forum members from a variety of industries, from training to financial services, law to outsourced sales, who came together to share their knowledge and expertise.

Andy Trafford, Managing Director of Sunderland-based fire and security company MacDonald Martin, kickstarted the conversation by acknowledging that he needed to develop a strategy to boost employee morale.

He said, “We’ve been established for sixteen years, but in the last financial year we were struggling to find fresh ideas to increase turnover and boost morale.

“One of our security engineers was looking for sponsorship for a bike ride after he’d lost his three-year-old son to epilepsy. This inspired us and for the next financial year we set monthly financial targets for the business and if we met or exceeded those targets then we would donate to his charity.

“Staff were united by the cause and we were donating £1,500 per month to the charity.”

Business coach and mentor Dr David Cliff, Managing Director of Gedanken, acknowledged that businesses do not exist in isolation from the community and that investing in a business’s local community is an implicit way of demonstrating the values of an organisation.

Adrian Cheesman agreed and shared that, as Managing Director of Demob Job, it’s important to remind the team about the importance of the values of the organisation and how these are displayed throughout their work.

Ryan Tahmassebi, Director of People Science at Hive HR, also shared that it’s about creating an emotional connection that encourages staff to contribute and offered the Simon Sinek quote, ‘When people are financially invested, they want a return when people are emotionally invested they want to contribute’.

For Jo Robertson, of Deloitte’s tax advisory team, the importance lies in creating a positive workplace culture.

She said, “What we are trying to achieve is retention of great staff. The behaviours of an international company have to start with the behaviours in local offices. Create a culture that makes people want to stay with your organisation.”

Gary Rogers, Operations Director of Diamond Group, shared how he is maintaining a creative workplace culture while the business grows, commenting, “Expansion and bringing in new staff can disrupt the culture balance of the office so we are developing an inclusive environment where everyone has a voice and everyone feels valued. Making staff feel appreciated through appraisals and development plans has been important.”

Dan Foskett, who heads up County Durham-headquartered Flooring Superstore and Grass Direct under the Connection Retail umbrella, found that reminding staff of their overall contribution has proved successful.

He said, “It doesn’t matter if a staff member is based in the warehouse, head office or store, we always bring it back to the impact their role has on the customer. We talk about this at appraisal, recruitment and in general conversations.”

However, Paul Card, Director of Paul Card Recruitment, advised he takes a slightly different approach, “Monthly one-to-ones were more sales performance-related than understanding staff, so one of the things we do is ask ‘what would you do with a half day holiday?’ This gives an understanding of what is important to each person.”

Charlotte Nichols, Founder of PR and marketing agency Harvey and Hugo, said, “Our team is small within it we have three leaders - the ‘Pack Leadership Team’ - who I report to directly. It’s not about relying on just one person but creating an environment that allows honest and open discussions.”

Similarly, Jayne Hart, Director of The HR Dept Newcastle agreed, commenting, “We are also a small team and we’ve found it’s important for management to also ask for feedback on their performance.”

Jessica Williams, Managing Director of Just Williams, introduced an alternative approach name ‘Fr-ideas’.

She said, “We create an environment of creativity by encouraging the team to pitch ideas every Friday, ‘Fr-ideas’, which has provided a platform for all employees to feedback and suggest improvements and efficiencies in the business.”

On the topic of employee experience, members largely agreed that tailoring employee parks to the individual can boost motivation and lower staff turnover.

Joanna Wake, of RAW Digital Training, shared, “We work in the tech and digital sector, and almost all of the larger employers have started to implement additional benefits for their staff such as flexible working and working from home policies to attract and retain top talent.”

Ryan commented, “Businesses can introduce flexible and tailored benefits. People will perform better if benefits are tailored to suit them, whether that’s working from home or offering reward incentives like free cinema tickets.”

Jo agreed, sharing that Deloitte work with people all over the country within different work environments and cultures, commenting, “It is important to understand individual motivations and ambitions and in that way you can find out what drives each person”.

On reflection of employee engagement, Andy Trafford offered the final comment, “In our organisation a shared goal brought everyone together as a team – it was helping one of our own. 

“This common goal made us all focus on going the extra mile to achieve our targets and we have monthly meetings and shout outs to recognise everything that we have achieved.”

Roundtables are open to all Entrepreneurs’ Forum members, for more information contact Michael Dixon at