June 17, 2024

Building a Motivational Workplace Culture: Reinventing Compensation | Rebecca Ahmed | TEDxOneonta

Published May 24, 2023, 11:20 p.m. by Monica Louis

What does it take to build a motivational workplace culture?

In her TEDxOneonta talk, Rebecca Ahmed shares her insights on what it takes to build a motivational workplace culture. She discusses the importance of creating a shared vision and purpose, as well as reinventing compensation structures to better align with employees' values and motivations.

Ahmed provides several examples of companies that have successfully created motivational cultures, such as Zappos and Google. She also shares her own experiences working in a highly motivating environment at IDEO. Ahmed urges businesses to focus on their people and create cultures that inspire employees to do their best work.

The first step in building a motivational workplace culture is creating a shared vision and purpose. This starts with clearly articulating the company's mission and values. Once employees understand the company's goals, they can start working towards them.

The second step is reinventing compensation structures. Ahmed argues that the traditional model of compensation, where employees are paid for their time, doesn't work anymore. Instead, businesses should focus on paying employees for their results. This aligns employees' motivation with the company's goals and helps create a more sustainable business model.

The third step is to invest in employee development. This includes providing training and development opportunities, as well as offering mentorship programs. By investing in their employees, businesses can create a more engaged and motivated workforce.

A motivational workplace culture can have a profound impact on a business's bottom line. By creating a culture that inspires employees to do their best work, businesses can achieve greater levels of success.

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how many parents do we have joining us

here today

yeah let's see a show of hands

of those parents how many of you have

bartered with your children

you know finish your homework you can go

to a friend's house

clean your room you can play video games

in full transparency i do want to share

i have not personally birthed any



i am the oldest of nine

yes you heard that correctly

and like many firstborns i assumed a

leadership role quite early on

making it imperative for me to

understand how to motivate each of my


whether you are a parent or not if

you've engaged in this friendly game of

negotiations you've likely learned four

important lessons

what motivates one

does not work for another

wants and needs consistently change

you get what you pay for

and kids talk

leading an organization

managing a litter of


or kiddos

whether you are a leader at a fortune

500 company or a household ceo

you were all here because you want and

need energized people

who are motivated and invested to do a

great job

my name is rebecca ahmed and i am

excited to be here today and i'm going

to share three recommendations for you

to create a motivational workplace


i have spent over 10 years in the human

resources field in the largest hotel and

casinos worldwide and i consult

companies on how to transform their

energy using energetic principles

specifically my three recommendations

will ensure you build a motivational

workplace culture through the lens of

reinventing compensation

so let's start with the strong

foundation building our core values

now i know what you're probably thinking

rebecca we know this we have our core

values on our website we have a

pre-employment assessment test to ensure

our values are aligned we even got this

amazing mural painted right next to our

diversity equity and inclusion statement

right at the employee entrance

but before you check this box and tune

me out

i have one question for you

are your values walking the talk in

every aspect of your business

let me start by sharing my story

i was born and raised in las vegas

nevada between the kiddos and the

casinos i am a natural extrovert

probably like many of you

i knew at an early age i wanted to work

with people

in fact at 11 years old i insisted i'd

coach versus attend tennis camp

my coach probably just said yes to get

me out of his hair but before he knew it

i was conducting surveys and

collaborating with the other coaches

upgrading drills and programs

i share this with you because my impact

and an organization means so much

choosing where you work is one of the

most important decisions of your life

when i choose where i work i ensure that

my values align with the company's


and that i believe in their vision and


i ensure i not only experience but

contribute to a thriving culture

i know when i am connected in these ways

to my team

to my work and to my company

i am an energized employee and an asset

to the business


early on in my career i was hit by a


i found out i was being paid under

market way way way under market double

digits less than my predecessor who had

the same experience and less education

than me

now if you manage or employ people

you're probably thinking welcome to the

work world rebecca

but let's take a moment and think about

this what does that do to an employee's


what does it make them think about how

you define honesty

does it cause their belief in your lofty

mission statement to blow up in thin air

and most importantly

does it build a relationship on trust

the day i found out i wasn't being paid

my worth was the day i decreased my

value sure i went to work but i cut


i started searching for other

disgruntled employees to exchange

stories of misery

of course i'm not proud to share my

reaction but that's the amazing thing

about disgruntled employees

they'll collect their paycheck

but they brag about how they work the

bare minimum searching for corners to

cut to match the corners cut on them

like many of them i started to evaluate

each project i was assigned based on my

time and energy and i would shave off

anything i could

rather than going above and beyond i

went below and short

i reduced my energy to give

i decreased my worth and in turn

value to my employer

luckily being a half-assed employee

didn't make me feel good

i did not want to be an angry worker

so i left shortly after and i learned a

very important lesson that i'm sharing

with you here today

i've made it my mission to ensure

employees and employers know how to

bring their values to life

here is what i learned

treat your employees how you want them

to treat you


because a precedent is set when a

company walks the talk

the opposite also rings true when built

on deception or a sense of trying to get

away with the bare minimum

when trust is broken it's like a piece

of china it never looks the same glued


but when trust is established

communication naturally increases and

the dynamic energy of enthusiasm and

engagement creates continuous


which leads me to my second


tell your people what you pay them and


according to a 2020 report

67 percent of organizations say salary

transparency is increasing in importance

to them

what you might not realize no matter

what company you work for is that

transparency has already been instilled

throughout your people's practices

stick with me here i promise to keep

this high level and fun i'm going to

walk through just a few examples

recruitment upgraded to talent


people want to go on a few dates before

they decide to jump into a relationship

employee relations now runs as an hr

business partner model the punitive

model of three strikes you're out

now provides coaching and support

benefits even migrated from standard

plan options

to an entire marketplace of health and

wellness needs


let's look at cinderella i mean


compensation is the only department

within the people services umbrella that

did not get upgraded

for the most part it's a

one-size-fits-all model with limited


however the future of compensation is

evolving and progressive organizations

are leading the charge in upgrading this


starbucks committed to a hundred percent

gender pay equity in the us and is

working towards this goal globally

they provide transparent pay wages for

any role in the u.s and canada

buffer has been a leader in paid

transparency creating their own

algorithm for candidates and team

members to calculate their worth within

each pay range

some all's founder dane atkinson made it

a company-wide policy to publishing all

employees salary and stock options for

what he said was a simple way to

eliminate dishonesty

the impact of his decision though is

even more powerful

because once that company-wide policy

went into place they saw an increase in

productivity and retention

now that i've shared the energetic power

of trust and transparency

let's look at my third recommendation

where creativity and innovation lie

design a compensation plan that creates

a win-win

no matter what company you work for

you represent a brand or service in fact

many of you are probably competitors

what differentiates you

your brand is personalized to attract

and retain your ideal customer the same

should ring true with your employees

think about each function i reviewed


not only has each become transparent but

each has become custom tailored

when a pilot applies to a first officer

opening their application and onboarding

experience is completely different than

a flight attendant

this level of individualization runs

through each and every function

except once again


so what does personalized pay look like

really excited to share this last

example as it showcases how this

employer stood out

i was working in las vegas nevada it was

about 2015 2016

and a director had to go out on medical

leave kicking off a conversation about

their role

executive leadership reviewed the

responsibilities and confirmed it was

too essential to leave open

so we reviewed internal talent and

reached out to a department manager

let's call her joy

we reached out to joy because she had

institutional knowledge and an appetite

to grow


joy did not meet the minimum

qualifications of the role

therefore we had an honest conversation

with her about the experience her

experience and how it matched the

responsibilities of the role and we

assured her she would be paid market

rate based on the responsibilities she

was going to be given

the lower end but still market

here's how we went one step further we

simply asked

what do you need to succeed and we

shared resources used throughout the


she was provided a leadership coach and

a flexible schedule and we baked this

into her compensation

this is what transparent and

personalized pay looks like

together we call this a total rewards


what it felt like though

is something i will never forget

i watched this employee shift from fear

to excitement

transparent and personalized pay

gave joy the confidence to thrive

and you bet your ass the next time a

director position opened not only did

she jump at that opportunity but we the

employer jumped at promoting her

that's what i call a win-win

you were all here today because you want

and need energized people who are

motivated and invested to do a great job

i gave you three recommendations and you

know what i'll even give you a few

siblings if you want to test out the

waters before implementation

treat your people how you want them to

treat you

tell your people what you pay them and


design a compensation plan that creates

a win-win

i invite you to take these action items

and go walk your talk

you will see

your workforce's energy will shift we're

disgruntled to engaged

increasing employees motivation

and in turn

value to your organization

thank you


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