It’s hard to find a business that wouldn’t like to have more motivated, engaged, enthusiastic employees. The benefits of a motivated work force are well proven. They include employees who actively work to make things more efficient within the company, clearer communication from employees to managers, more “stepping up” into extra work duties, better customer service, and the vaunted increase in productivity. Plus, engaged employees tend to stay with your company longer, which saves money in its own right.
It can be hard to achieve that level of motivation, however, or even to know where to start. Generally, getting an employee to feel “engaged” and motivated means three things:
- The employee feels personally responsible for a meaningful part of the work the company does, and they can see how their work contributes to an outcome.
- They find the work intrinsically rewarding.
- They’re able to evaluate the progress they’re making and the results of their work.
Does creating those conditions sound difficult, uncertain, and expensive? It doesn’t have to be. We’ve put together five ways you can increase employee motivation. Each of these methods takes some effort and consistency to work, but none of them are hard to implement.
#1 Make Employee Needs a Priority
Every business leader has heard (and often uttered) the words, “Put employees first.” But that’s a vague aspiration. Instead, look at it as putting their needs first—which isn’t too hard, if you understand the common concerns of professionals in today’s work force. Consider strategies like flexible hours, a work from home policy, “summer hours” where staff get out early on Fridays, or in-house perks like daycare or fitness programs. These things directly help employees meet their own needs, with the company’s help.
This creates motivation by making workers feel a sense of loyalty and dedication to their work. They feel you’re taking care of them, and in most cases they will want to return the favor. That means they’re now working hard because they want to. It’s become intrinsically rewarding.
#2 Immediate Recognition
Every company offers recognition to the best employees, but most do it entirely wrong. If you have a once a month award or run a contest, you only reward a few top performers and everyone else feels unappreciated. (There’s a place for rewarding the crème de la crème, of course, but it won’t motivate the rest of the team.)
Instead, give recognition swiftly. Train your managers to immediately tell an employee when they did well on something. A simple but sincere “You did a really great job on this pitch” may seem small, but it can be more meaningful than a $20 gift certificate. More importantly, since it comes immediately on the heels of hard work, that work now feels rewarding. And it helps employees evaluate their progress as they go—one of the keys of motivation mentioned above.
Nothing is less fulfilling than a dead end job. And the funny thing is, most jobs aren’t dead ends, but that isn’t always communicated well to staff. If you want to retain talented employees, your managers need to show a clear route forward for every position below them. And wherever possible, they should map those routes collaboratively with their staff, asking each individual what kind of work they want to be doing and helping them do it.
When mangers openly help their staff advance forward, it changes what a job means. For one thing, the employee can now see that their hard work benefits them as well as the company. For another, they see that they can meet their goals without looking at the job listings.
#4 The Right Workspace
An employee’s environment has a massive effect on their ability to get things done, and how happy they are to do them. That doesn’t have to mean building a custom headquarters with a massage parlor and moving sidewalks. One simple way to improve your workplace is to get rid of the open-office floor plan, or at least give workers the option of a private workplace. Another fix is to make sure you’re making optimum use of natural light sources, so that as many people get as much light as possible.
When walking into the office feels good, work is more rewarding, and employees flourish.
#5 Benefits that Matter
When it comes to offering employee benefits, there are two extremes that can really hurt a company: offering nothing but a bare bones medical plan, or offering expensive luxuries completely for free. A better approach lies somewhere in the middle—make sure employees feel that their health needs are amply covered, then focus on inexpensive but meaningful perks.
These employee perks can take many forms. For example, spring for an in-house yoga course, offer a vacation subsidy so employees enjoy their days off, or simply give every worker a free Netflix subscription.
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