Unhappy employees are not productive. Needless to say that it is key to keep motivation in the workplace always as high as possible.
Motivating employees is about far more than just offering them more cash. The Harvard Business Review noted that “stuff-based” incentive plans simply don’t work. In fact, they noted that this type of compensation often creates more problems than they solve.
Increasing motivation in the workplace doesn’t have to be complicated. The secret is to make the right moves. So let’s dive into the practical ways to do that:
1. Keep The “Why” Alive
Workers, and especially millennials, want to feel as if their work has a purpose. They want to be part of something bigger instead of just be responsible for putting part A into slot B, for example.
On the other side, employers also want critical thinkers who can determine, evaluate, and solve problems on their own without hand-holding.
As critical thinkers, these employees are constantly questioning the reasoning behind processes, rules, and vision. After all, they are investing their time and effort in the future of the company and they have a personal interest in the company’s development.
Additionally, critical thinkers cannot perform to their full potential if they don’t know why they are doing what they are doing. Great leaders are able to inspire their employees by clearly communicating the vision behind every step of the way. Knowing the “why” behind projects and tasks facilitates getting employees’ buy-in because they see where their efforts are taking them.
Dismissing employees’ concerns is demeaning and not only it shows a lack of respect for the employees, but it also automatically decreases their motivation — and consequently, the company’s productivity.
To lead employees to true motivation, employers must openly communicate where the entire journey is leading the company.
2. Give the Employees a Voice
Perhaps the cornerstone of employee motivation is empowerment. No one wants to be just a number. People want to feel as if their efforts are meaningful. That means letting go of micromanaging.
If you hire someone to do a job, then you should not only support that person do the job but also, you should support that person in any way possible to grow and succeed.
It’s not about bossing people around and exerting authority. Rather, it’s about using one’s position and influence to facilitate employee triumphs. At the end of the day, employees’ triumphs are managers’ triumphs.
Effective managers must ensure that employees have a voice in the running of the company. This means more than just a suggestion box in the break room or a survey about employee happiness.
Managers should be constantly listening to problems, challenges, and recommendations. After all, no one knows more about what goes on the day-to-day operations of a company than the people who are doing the work.
3. Offer Personalized Employee Benefits
When it comes to motivation in the workplace, the newest hammer in the toolbox is personalized employee benefits. Having just health insurance, paid time off and retirement accounts on the employee benefits package is not enough anymore.
As an example, many businesses are offering childcare on-site so that employees don’t have to shell out great swaths of their paychecks paying for it.
Furthermore, some employers offer company retreats, meal vouchers, health benefits, flexible work hours, and many other creative perks. Sometimes, offering these different employee benefits can cost less to the company and be more meaningful to the employees.
The secret to offering meaningful employee benefits is to find out what motivates each employee and make the perks personalized.
4. Set Challenging but Achievable Goals
Catching metaphorical “cans of corn” is easy, but it’s ultimately unfulfilling. Recognition for such successes rings hollow. Smart, vigorous employees enjoy challenges, and the recognition that comes from solving such challenges is rewarding indeed.
By asking for goals that require extra effort to achieve without being impossible, employers are actually offering an intangible reward. The sense of satisfaction at completing a job well-done is worth more than any gift card or other small trinkets of supposed recognition.
The best way to come up with challenging goals to use the acronym SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Clarity is king. Communicate with employees immediately so that they have the relevant information they need.
Don’t give them busywork that has nothing to do with the overarching task. Make sure the goals can be reached in the time allowed. Evaluate performance, and give appropriate feedback in a timely manner too.
The Bottom Line
Employee motivation is all about value. In simplest terms, if employees feel valued, they will do their best for the company. If not, they won’t. Worse, they may do untraceable damage on their way out the door to greener pastures elsewhere.
Every company is moved by people, therefore, keeping these people motivated and happy should be every employer’s number one concern.