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Creating a Highly Motivated Workforce in Shared Services

The nemesis of every successful Shared Services implementation is the challenge of maintaining momentum after transferred work processes become stable and routine.   While this is true for sponsors and customers, there is no group more critical to consider than the employees who work in Shared Services.  Creating enthusiasm, excitement, and motivation in a mature organization is a very different challenge than designing a process or implementing a technology solution.  Creating a highly motivated workforce is a challenge that must be successfully addressed to ensure the long-term health of Shared Services.

A recent PeercastTM in Peeriosity’s Shared Services Leadership research area featured a large agricultural company with global operations that is in the early years of setting up regional Shared Services, discussing their approach to getting out in front of the issues of employee motivation and employee development.  While the company operates regional centers in North America (Midwest), South America (Brazil), Europe (Poland), and Asia (China), the discussion focused on approaches used at their North American center.

To address the challenge, our feature company emphasized the importance of communication and taking a transparent approach to keeping employees informed, using techniques like all-hands meetings, monthly newsletters, and traditional communication approaches like team meetings and email messages.  They also implemented a multi-faceted recognition program that included employee recognition, peer recognition, leadership recognition, and customer recognition.  Techniques discussed include:

  1. The Employee of the Month
  2. Quarterly Most Valuable Player
  3. The Employee of the Year
  4. Shared Services Bucks
  5. Prizes
  6. A Shared Services Awards Ceremony
  7. Feedback Surveys
  8. Recognition in Team Meetings

Cited as a key success factor was the need to pay close attention to celebrating successes along the way with team celebrations and holiday parties.  This process is formal and participative, with social committee planning activities, including ice cream socials, scavenger hunts, picnics, and a “welcome wagon” for new employees.  In addition, Shared Services pays attention to the importance of being good citizens of the community with monthly fundraiser activities for charity and encouraging employees to participate in food drives and actively volunteer in the community.  The Shared Services organization supports these efforts by providing a paid half-day off each quarter for volunteers.

Here is a summary of some of the lessons learned:

  1. Candid and honest communication is important.  In fact, it is better to err on the side of sharing information openly, even if it might touch on a sensitive issue, rather than withholding information.  In other words, it is easier to develop trust and be perceived as being open and honest when you actually are!
  2. Getting regular feedback from employees and teams and allowing them to participate as important contributors to key decisions is very important to achieving a high level of morale.  Listen to questions and concerns, ask for their ideas, and include as much input as possible so that employees feel like they are heard, and that they are part of creating a solution to any problem or issue.
  3. Ideas need to come from employees and teams.  The best ideas are typically bottoms-up.
  4. Employees need to take responsibility for their own career, performance, attitude, and success.  
  5. No matter what you do, you can’t make everyone happy 100% of the time!

What strategies are used in Shared Services at your company for creating a highly motivated workforce?  Are you paying enough attention to this important challenge?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

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