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Motivation and Employee Engagement in Thailand

Submitted by on Friday, 14 January 20112 Comments

Just as customer engagement has two drivers, so does employee engagement. And understanding these two drivers is key to creating the platform for employee motivation in Thailand.

When describing the forces of employee motivation, Herzberg used to refer to these as ‘Hygiene factors’ and ‘Motivation factors’.

‘Hygiene factors’ usually determine if a prospective employee joins your company. But it’s the ‘Motivation factors’ that decide whether they Stay, and more importantly, Strive in their work. (If you would like to find out more about our Employee Engagement model please go here).

It is critical that companies pay attention to these factors if they do not want performance killers like high staff turnover, skills shortages and employee disengagement.

This post explains these two drivers from a marketing perspective.

The Herzberg Model

First, let’s take a quick look at the Herzberg model:

Next, let’s understand how these two factors shape employee engagement. We can separate them into two drivers: the Employee Value Proposition and the Employee Experience.

Driver #1: The Employee Value Proposition

To create a culture of engagement and workplace motivation in Thailand, companies first need to create a reasonable employee value proposition. Note the word ‘reasonable’ here. The employee value proposition, because it is a hygiene factor, does not need to be outstanding (though of course that helps if you can achieve that).

Companies continually worry that they are underpaying or overpaying their staff. In a way, underpaying your staff (as long as it’s only by a small margin), is not a critical disengagement driver. Let’s look at some of Herzberg’s factors in more detail and explain what companies can do to create a reasonable employee value proposition.

1. Policies. Streamline these as much as possible. These need to be clear because this factor does relate to our second engagement driver (Employee Experience). Employees need to know what is expected of them in a clear and concise manner. Companies – get your policies down pat! The Talent Technologies way is Simple, Specific and Strategic.

2. Salary. Our research has shown that a lower-than-industry-average salary does not lead to staff turnover – but a poor employee experience does! There is a limit, though, below which employees will leave.

Usually, employees in Thailand will not leave for a 5% higher salary (if they do it means they are disengaged through a poor experience). In some cases, companies can get away with a 10% differential where their Employee Experience is exceptional.

Management Training Thailand

3. Status. Some banks have more Vice Presidents than managers, and do so because of the status factor.

Goldman Sachs presently has over 300 CEOs!

The key about status and titles is to ensure that these do not create a hierarchical company culture. Use them if you have to, but work extra hard to flatten the organisation in real terms.

Driver #2: The Employee Experience

This is where the money is at. Really.

A study by Gallup into employee engagement in Thailand discovered that a whopping 88% of employees were either not engaged or actively disengaged (deliberately working against the company). The cost to Thai companies? An estimated 98.8 bn Baht.

One thing worse than having employees leaving is having them stay – then destroy your company’s performance and squander its opportunities!

This is why understanding motivation in Thailand clearly and having a tool that is both scientific and practical to measure it, is so important.

Herzberg’s list above into the motivation factors is quite vague. Research across thousands of companies has shown that these 3 factors are among the most important for employee engagement in Thailand and, with it, motivation:

1. Playing to Strengths – or creating what we call the ‘Talent-Task’ connection. If you slot a person into a job that engages his or her talents, they are already almost 50% to being fully motivated at work – think about that!

2. Being clear about expectations. When an employee and a team is clear about expectations and goals – really clear – they are a big step on the way to getting and staying motivated. In Thailand, clear expectations creates harmony which is especially important.

3. Friendship. In the West, we may feel that friendship at work is not especially important. In Thailand, friendship is an important part of employee engagement as we have found.

Business in Thailand and Asia operates less along the lines of formal structures and more along the lines of informal networks. So to get things done, it’s essential that there are plenty of friendships to ‘oil the wheels’ in companies.

If too many conflicts exist (and worse, enemies), then that natural cultural characteristic of conflict avoidance will take over – and employee engagement levels will crater.

What you can do to promote employee motivation in Thailand

If you are interested in promoting employee motivation in Thailand, and creating an engaged and inspiring workplace, why not ask us about our Employee Engagement solution, or just complete the quick form below!


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