Imagine this. You’ve just started trading and you have a team of employees at your beck and call. They’re making sales, liaising with customers, working on prototypes, and creating new marketing materials.
For the first few weeks, everything is going great. But then, after a while, you notice that standards begin to slip. Employees aren’t showing up for work on time, the quality of their output is going down, and they don’t seem as enthusiastic about what they are doing as before. What’s going wrong?
Bursts of motivation are common in workplaces. However, sustained effort is a rare beast indeed. The majority of employees simply aren’t interested in slogging their guts out, week after week, just so that management can hit its targets. They care about the quality of their lives and aren’t interested in living exclusively for work. They want fun in their lives.
When faced with this reality, the reaction of most managers is negative. They see how hard they work themselves, and they expect the same from their teams. But that isn’t how the world works. The temptation is to get angry and browbeat employees into bringing their A-game, but that approach just breeds dissatisfaction and contempt for senior staff members.
Ironically, the majority of workers actually want their employers to put more effort into motivating them. 70 percent would like companies to take an active role in encouraging engagement.
The problem is that a lot of firms simply don’t do this. They assume that wages are enough to keep people excited and happy to come to work, but that’s not always true.
So what can bosses do to motivate their employees so that they bring their A-game to work every day? Let’s take a look.
Ask Workers What They Want
Many companies take a top-down approach to management, treating people like cogs in a vast machine. Individual workers are “roles,” not people with their own ideas, needs, and skills.
To address this issue, sit your team down and find out what they actually value. Look for what matters to them the most.
As you probe the question, what you discover can be quite interesting. For example, you might learn that team members value group meetings or having autonomy more than kitchen services or company away days. You may actually discover ways of motivating your people and saving money at the same time: a win for both you and your team.
Pat Them On The Back
Recognizing your team’s achievements is another thing that you can do to improve motivation. Colleagues want you to acknowledge the effort and skills that go into their work, and the value that it brings the firm. In many cases, the contribution individual employees make goes well beyond their compensation.
If you notice an employee putting in extra effort on a project, thank them for it. Recognize their achievements publicly, and share success stories across the firm. Add social rewards to the list of financial rewards they already receive and watch how their attitude to their job changes.
Companies that reward effort experience multiple benefits, including lower employee turnover and higher engagement. Acknowledge employee efforts both publicly and privately for the best results. Use strategies like these to keep your best employees in the company instead of losing them to external firms.
Make Food A Workplace Perk
We’ve all heard it said that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” But while that might be stereotypical on the dating scene, it actually appears to be true in the job market. Employers who make food a workplace perk tend to have considerably higher engagement than those who don’t.
Research, for instance, shows that access to free food in the office increases employee well-being by around 11 percent. Furthermore, workers rate having free food available among the top office perks, alongside open areas, showers, and gyms.
Because of this, paying attention to your employees’ physical needs can bring all kinds of benefits. Once they believe that you are doing everything you can to take care of them, they will be much more likely to stick around for the long haul.
Keep Schedules Flexible
Showing up to work at 8:30 am and going home at 5:00 pm feels robotic, repetitive, and dull. What’s more, it doesn’t allow employees to arrange their work around their lives. Many have to make compromises throughout the week. Instead of being something fun, work becomes a burden, making their lives more difficult.
Flexible working, though, is becoming more common, particularly in knowledge-based jobs. There really is no reason, for instance, why a lawyer has to be in the office for regular hours. In fact, it might actually be better for clients if they were available in the evenings and on weekends.
Be Open About Your Company
Don’t try to keep employees in the dark about the status of your company. Instead, be open about how things are going to keep them invested. Make a point to update them regularly about sales, revenues, and profits. If you can, try to show them how much they each contributed to the overall success of the firm. Try to make it seem like they are making a real difference.
These days, you don’t have to do much administration, either. Business intelligence software can auto-generate reports and send them out to all your employees every week or month. They can then see how the company is doing and modify their practices to get you closer to your financial goals.
Implement A Structured Compensation Plan
Just paying employees a constant salary and leaving it at that isn’t a great way to motivate people. No matter what happens, they get paid the same every month.
The trick here is to implement a sale compensation plan. These structure pay so that people who make more sales get paid more.
These plans don’t have to be complicated, but they do need to be role and business-specific. What you want is a compensation scheme that gets people buzzing every time they come to the office. You want them pumped to work and to maximize their pay, instead of running down the clock.
Share Positive Feedback
All employees know what it feels like to be on the end of negative feedback. To boil it down to a single word, you might call it “awful.”
However, many bosses neglect to provide positive feedback when warranted.
There are benefits for both employers and employees when firms offer positive feedback. For employees, it makes them feel good about their work and that they can actually do it. And for employers, it encourages employees to keep doing the things that meet the business’s objectives.
Customers appreciate the positive feedback, too. When employees receive encouragement, they can keep doing the things that make customers happy.
Provide Growth Opportunities
Many life coaches and gurus believe that “growth is happiness.” As long as people are moving forward, they feel good about their lives. Onwards and upwards is the way to go.
Some companies, though, don’t facilitate progression. Workers spend their entire lives in the same roles, never progressing beyond the baseline.
Setups like these can work over the medium term. Many employees will remain in the same role for three to five years. However, most won’t commit for ten years. They want more from their lives, and they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to get there. Hence, if you don’t provide opportunities for growth in-house, employees will look elsewhere.
Psychologically, providing growth opportunities is critical. Therefore, always plan to give employees more responsibility. When you do this, it transforms their view of work from “something that pays the bills” into a career with real meaning and importance.
Offer Them Rewards
There are all sorts of ways that you can reward employees for a job well done. Quarterly bonuses, private healthcare insurance, and company profit-sharing are all good options.
Financial incentives are a quick way to make working for your company more compelling, though they will do little to improve employee happiness. Even so, they can discourage turnover if you pay more than the going market rate.
The number one reason people leave their jobs is a lack of respect from management. If they feel like you are taking advantage of them or working them to the bone, they will look for opportunities elsewhere.
Try to avoid master-slave relationships in your organization. Managers shouldn’t be “bosses,” they should just be people who facilitate work.
If you have unpopular managers in your organization, re-train, reassign or fire them. Don’t let them bring down your team. The costs to your organization are too high.
Transform Your Culture And Environment
Lastly, you’ll want to look for ways to make your business a pleasant place to be: somewhere people actually want to go to work. Avoid the temptation to focus solely on efficiency, as this can actually become a false economy. Eliminate any Cold War office feel from the environment and encourage team membership and camaraderie.