Employees are essential to any company. They help keep the everyday operations of your business running, and are an invaluable asset to your work. That’s why keeping them motivated is so important. A lack of interest or drive in the work they do will result in reduced morale, attendance, and ultimately, profits. Failing to cultivate your literal human resources is bad news for your bottom line and your brand. Practically every person under your employ has the following needs in their career path: to achieve a satisfactory wage, to do work that is both engaging and fulfilling, and perhaps most important of all, to be recognized for their work.
Inspiring your employees to be dedicated to their work is not as simple as showering them with material rewards and gratitude every so often. You’ll have to craft a motivational strategy that is specific to them. That said, having a grasp on where to begin devising this strategy is a good place to start.
Let’s take a look at some ways you can motivate your employees to improve their performance.
Encourage team spirit.
Your team is called that for a reason, and if its members are in discord, there’s something wrong. A good sense of office camaraderie has been shown to result in higher loyalty to the company, increased workplace performance, and an overall improved sense of fulfillment.
As a leader, pinpoint problematic work ethics that hinder your projects, and promote this camaraderie as much as possible. The bonds your workers share with each other are one of the most important things connecting them to your group as a whole.
Team building exercises may seem cliché, but they have been widely implemented in offices throughout the world for a reason. Let your employees interact with each other outside of the workplace—sponsor a retreat or a nice night out—which will promote interactions that are impossible at the office. The attitudes inspired by these outings will continue on upon the return to the office, leading to a more positive work environment.
If you take the traditional supervisor approach and remain aloof, even superior, to your employees, you’ll never get anywhere with them. Having the right attitude is critical to becoming a leader who is seen as a role model to be emulated, and the first step in this process is to stay grounded with your employees.
Be open with your workers, making sure to introduce channels of communication to everyone in your team. Ask them for their opinions and input on work matters, and you’ll be surprised at how much you missed—and how much insight they can offer you. A second opinion can work wonders for coming up with ideas, and having lots of them can only help. By asking for their insight, you’ll be letting your team know that you value their judgment, and that they are an integral part of the group. They will feel appreciated, and will understand that, as a member of your organization, they are valued.
Let employees share the profit.
Employees are more motivated when the stakes are higher—and when the potential for rewards are greater. Offer ways to open up company profits to your employees via shares or some other method you may have in mind. Apart from helping your workers to feel more involved in the running of the company, they will feel as if they matter to the company’s overall success, and are needed to ensure it. Once your employees are invested in your company, you can expect a subsequent change in their productivity and performance. They are truly part of the company now, with all of the implications that that entails. Their success is the company’s success, and the company’s success is theirs. Impart the belief that all of you are in the same boat, and watch both motivation and morale rise, leading to more driven, ambitious workers.
Don’t be a slave driver.
The typical workweek has been 40 hours because that is the optimal amount of time for productivity. If your employees spend practically all of their time at the office, their productivity plummets due to a general lack of rest, recreation, and exercise. This is a vicious cycle that will catch you with employees who are highly tense, constantly exhausted, more prone to sickness, and who will resort to working even more to meet your requirements. The end result could be chronic absenteeism and ill will towards your company.
Show that you value your employees’ time by maintaining a strict 40 hours a week. You’ll find that by avoiding overtime (except during the occasional emergency), you’ll have more productive employees and greater savings—more often than not, employees that work overtime are much less productive while doing so, which leads to you paying more for less.
Understand that time for some well-deserved R and R, achieving that work-life balance, is also an important part of any workflow. By providing ample time for other pursuits, you’ll have workers who are refreshed whenever they come into the office. Plus, this holistic growth also has the potential to help in company innovation—great ideas from left field can only germinate from the outside, after all.
Address the “bad apples”.
Even though most of your employees are satisfied and motivated at the moment, all it takes is one or two demotivated individuals to bring the whole machine to a grinding halt. If these dissatisfied employees share their problems with their colleagues long enough, or if they share their problems with enough people, it could have drastic consequences for your company. Keep an ear to the ground so that you are familiar with current office politics. This will also let you identify the “problem” employees so that you can manage them effectively. Speak with them and let them know that their behavior runs counter to the ideals of the group, and see whether you can come to a compromise.
It’s important to remember that you should listen to what these “problem” employees have to say— they may have legitimate concerns with how the company is run. If their issues are valid, they can be important points for improvement that can be applied in your next review. Showing everyone that you listen to the voices of every employee will demonstrate to your workers that you are open to discourse and positive change.
Understand your people.
As a leader, it’s your duty to bring out the best in the individual members of your team. That entails finding out their strengths and weaknesses, knowing what drives them to succeed, and developing their role in the workplace. By understanding their professional goals, you can help set them on a career path that is best suited to their needs. Having a conceivable future with you will engage and excite your employees, further motivating them at work. This promotional path may not be for everyone, and you can open up new avenues for growth by sending your employees to conferences, holding training sessions, and assigning them tasks outside of their comfort zone. Find out what they studied in college—they may have skill sets that could be useful for the growth of the company itself.
By keeping your employees motivated, you will spur them to perform well not only individually, but as a group. You’ll nourish a healthy workplace environment, with positive morale and the drive for everyone to succeed.
Image credit: CC by Sean MacEntee