What's a company to do when they don't have the standby motivators of money and stability to motivate their employees? Sam Houston Race Park was faced with this same question and came up with three intriguing solutions: departmental cross-training, flexible hours, and giving their employees a voice that would be heard.
Abraham Maslow defined the hierarchy of individual needs in a pyramid-type illustration (see Figure 1). Human motivators all fall into one or more of the five defined levels. Financial compensation and job security are widely recognized as the most basic motivators. How can a company motivate employees without providing the two 'basic' motivators? This is the question Sam Houston Race Park (SHRP) was faced with when opening their doors in Houston. Horse racing is a seasonal industry and the majority of its workforce are cyclically laid off and rehired when the next season begins.
The budget wasn't in place for premium pay. What motivators could SHRP utilize in lieu of dollars and stability? Their solution: Cross-training, flexible hours, and employee voice recognition.
SHRP faced many challenges launching its operation in Houston, Texas. The new industry generated working departments many Houstonians had never seen before. After only a few months' time, inter-departmental hostilities became apparent. Instead of forcing the issue, management instituted a series of voluntary 'cross-training' days for all departments. Someone working in track maintenance, for example, would help answer the switchboard for a day; someone in admissions would help the marketing with event logistics.
Sending people to work in another department at a moment's notice is not what cross-training is about. This has to be an effective planned process. Employees must "buy" into the idea, be encouraged to give feedback and make suggestions for improvement. They become "partners"...