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Motivating Employees In The Workplace With Michelle Elrod

We’re going to answer your questions. Remember if we answer your question on the show, the number is (833) 3-ASK-SDR , we will send you some swag if you do! Today we will be going over Motivating Employees in the Workplace and screening employers. 


Interestingly enough, one of the questions from our show today isn’t from anybody in the automotive industry. He’s running a tattoo shop, but I think we have some carry over from Business Outlaws and fans of business. He’s interested in how motivating employees in the workplace will benefit their performance and outcome. 


I have called in reinforcements for this question, somebody who was a very celebrated speaker at our last Top Dog event and just an overall smart bad-ass Michelle Elrod. She’s the director of strategic learning and organizational experience initiatives at Cal Poly Pomona. Michelle will be helping me discuss motivating employees in the workplace and we will then talk about the best way to screen employers when looking to get hired. 


Watch this for my 11-step system for hiring the best employees!


Where is Michelle Elrod from? 

Michelle lives in Riverside, however, Pomona is like LA county and she is still working from home. There’s so many rules and things that have to be put in place during this pandemic. 


At Cal Poly Pomona there are about 40,000 people on campus at any given moment.


Learn more about motivating employees in the workplace here.


Michelle Elrod enlightens us with her story so far working from home and tells us, 


“There’s times when I need to be with my team. I feel like zoom is just like Zoom, there’s just something to be said about in-person connection. That part’s a little frustrating, but you know, as far as being able to be there for my kid and dogs, I enjoy certain aspects of working remotely.” 


Having said this, I truly appreciate Michelle Elrod for coming on and helping us with this upcoming question. Michelle brings some amazing insights about motivating employees in the workplace. 


We’re going to play the recorded question and then we’ll talk about it.


Question #1: 

“I’m actually not a car guy. I manage a tattoo shop and I was wondering, in the modern age when we are trying to hire new people, millennials nowadays are more concerned about quality of life and less about money. 


I want to know more about motivating employees in the workplace… We have an incentive program where people can earn more, however, if money isn’t appealing, how do you attract younger people to work for you?”


I asked Michelle about her thoughts on this question and she replied, 


“I think that that’s a very fair and valid question regarding motivating employees in the workplace. Even within the context of the pandemic, we have all changed to an extent. 


I recently heard a quote that really resonated with me. It was from an unknown author, but it said that we’ve all weathered the same storm, but we’re not in the same boat. 


Some people really use the pandemic as an opportunity to find a new job or to relax and get a tan by their pool. While other people were trying to just fill the holes of their sinking boat.” 


Michelle further goes on to explain that we are all coming back different in some way, shape or form, whether it’s for the better or for the worse, we are coming back different. 


She continues by telling us that things that engage us might be different as well. 


Although money may not be a motivating factor for some, on the contrary, being able to have certain experiences probably motivates people to work. Elrod says that surely we need money to be able to do those things, but it’s more than that because we can look at specific generations. 


Each person has a different experience with their world and therefore are going to be motivated by different things. 


Michelle would say that first and foremost, it’s really important to understand the commonalities that come out of all generations. If we have to spend our time at work, whether you’re working a 40 hour job or it’s part-time… 


She stresses that we have to spend a significant amount of our life working. 


Michelle builds off of motivating employees in the workplace and details to us, 


“It’s important that people understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. If you’re the leader of that group of people or if you are the owner of that shop, it’s really important to make sure that you understand what type of experiences your employees need. 

Ultimately their experience impacts how they feel about your organization and how they feel about your organization will dictate what they actually do. So if they don’t feel connected to your workplace in some way, shape or form, they’re not going to feel inclined to perform their best. 

If they don’t understand the purpose of your organization, they’re not going to feel really motivated to do what you want them to do. Ultimately this will impact the results that you get when you do not know how to motivate your employees in the workplace.”


Additionally, Michelle emphasizes that we have to think about what motivates an employee and, and recognize that it’s different for every person. 


She says that it’s really the job of the leader or the business owner to learn about that and  understand what drives people to perform. We do that by learning about them, understanding what they hope to get out of the organization that they’re working for. 



We always need to be aware of the factors motivating employees in the workplace. 


Michelle underlines that those are the things that make people feel either connected or disconnected. If you have an employee that’s disconnected, they’re not going to be motivated to do the things that you want them to do. 


Then we have to go down another path, whether it is terminating the employee or writing the employee up, we have to go down a path that will make people feel even worse about the organization. 


Michelle says that it’s always important to get that information on the front end as a leader, as a business owner. This will help motivate employees and then they know what they need to do in order for them to be satisfied with their position. 


Furthermore, I completely agree with what Michelle has to say about employee satisfaction and I build off of this by telling her that I’ve been in industries and markets where the employees weren’t necessarily motivated by money. 


They were, however, motivated by having a clear career path and having a boss that was genuinely interested in them and their career path. 


In a lot of studies that I’ve read, one of the reasons for turnover in the first two years of employment is because they didn’t see a clear career path and that comes up before money. Money is like fourth or fifth on the list. 


They do not believe that their boss or the owner of the company is vested in them personally. It’s hard to find employers that are genuinely interested in motivating employees in the workplace. 


If you’re working in a tattoo shop, maybe your ambition isn’t to be a tattoo artist, maybe it’s to own a tattoo shop.


Plus, if you’re running a tattoo shop or something where you’re creating scenarios where they can post images on their Instagram or Social Media account… 


Your employees would get likes and this is something that becomes a part of their identity. 


Everybody likes recognition, comments, and likes. This is a strong action for motivating employees in the workplace.


From hare, they’re putting something out there and they’re getting recognized in a positive way for their posts. Then that will become a part of their identity and then they will want to have more of that feeling of acceptance. 


I believe that as far as industries go, part of marketing now is experiences and creating scenarios where customers can… 


Take pictures. Post it. Share it. 


Providing opportunities for employees to get attention in the social media realm is just as important for customers as it is for employees in a lot of ways, but that’s generational.  


Michelle responded to my statement about this being generational by telling me us, 


“It can absolutely be generational. If you’re hiring someone that doesn’t fall into the Gen Z or the Millennial category, they might not be very interested in sharing their experiences with the world. 


Either way, when people leave your place of employment, they’re talking about you. The question you have to ask yourself is:


What are they saying? What do you want them to say? Are you creating experiences at work that align to the things that you want them to say when they leave your place of business? 


We’ve changed and people that fall into some of the older generations think that they can do what they did 25-30 years ago and get the same result… Unfortunately you can’t because people don’t respond to dictatorships anymore. 


They will look for something else and then they’ll tell everyone why they looked for something else.”


Michelle talks about how firing your employees would be the easy option… However, as a result of taking that approach, you have higher turnover. 


Michelle wants us to avoid having people that don’t have good experiences and individuals that are leaving your organization and telling everybody along the way what they feel about you and your place of employment. 


Motivating employees in the workplace is often difficult, however, it takes a vision for the people in your organization. 


She says that it’s so important that even though it feels like it takes more time to have that collaborative approach within your organization, you reap the benefits on and on. As a result of using this approach, it significantly reduces the amount of time that you have to put in the backend. 


In conclusion, we now have an employee that not only is having great experiences, which naturally when you have a great experience at work, it’s going to increase how motivated you are to go there. 


In addition to that, you have an employee that’s sharing their experiences with other people, which now makes you have more positive brand recognition as a result of that.


Building off Michelle’s statement, I brought up Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. 


When motivating employees in the workplace, it’s important to understand where they are on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. For example, I was talking about this yesterday with my team and we were talking about Canada.


This client, we had, sponsored a technician from the Philippines and moved them over. They were able to get them a visa and provided them with a job in Canada. 


When you think about an employee that lived in the Philippines and the basic needs of shelter, food, and all that they struggle with… They come over to Canada and they now have security, they can provide shelter, food, and also move their family over eventually and citizenship. 


They’re on the lower end of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and it’s very simple there. They tend to be a more loyal employee because their basic needs are very simple.


When you talk about some of these younger kids that still live at home, they still live with mom or dad. 


They don’t really have bills and they’re higher on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where they’re looking for fulfillment. They’re not looking for just basic food and shelter and I think that’s compounded with the extension of unemployment benefits. 


The checks the government has been giving out shows that people aren’t in a panic. They are just trying to pay their bills along with trading their time and effort for money. Having said this, it makes it harder to be motivating your employees in the workplace. 


This is something you want to really understand during the interview and the pre-hire: 


Where is this person on just the basic hierarchy of needs?


Honestly, I just want somebody who really just wants to pay for their rent and wants to eat… More than they’re looking to me for spiritual fulfillment. This is mutually beneficial when motivating employees in the workplace. 


Michelle believes that the younger generation and their fulfillment in the workplace is tricky, she responded with, 


“I have an 18 year old daughter and she landed a full-time job. It was a great little gig because it was giving her experience in the healthcare field. She’s a full-time student going through the nursing program. 


Therefore, I recognize how stressful that can be being a full-time student. I did it when I wasn’t living at home, so you’re not going to get sympathy in this department. 


But I had to recognize even as a parent that everybody is living their own reality. To me, it might not seem like it’s such a bad gig as she’s experiencing full-time employment. 


She was significantly stressed out and would come home every day just panicking with stress. I think that just because we don’t relate to someone and maybe our experiences were different… It’s harder for us to have compassion. 


I think that it’s still important to recognize that even if it’s not your reality. That it is still their reality.” 


Michelle Elord goes into this topic of the meaning of why employees are motivated to do what they do. She says that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. 


Michelle explains that it’s difficult to articulate to the consumer one’s mission for the organization. Part of the brain that is associated with emotion does not contribute to language. It’s difficult to ask people:


What is your reason and what is your purpose? 


Then to be able to articulate that purpose to the employees to help you to serve and fulfill this mission. 


Motivating employees in the workplace is a tricky situation and it starts with understanding where your employees are coming from. 


Got a question? Call us at 1-833-3-ASK-SDR 

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Today, Michelle will be helping me discuss motivating employees in the workplace and then we will talk about the best way to screen employers when looking to get hired. Got a question? Call (833) 3-ASK-SDR

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