13 ways to improve your employees’ work motivation

Date: 01 Sep 2020

Author: Gabriella Barbara

In my last blog, I wrote about what you should consider BEFORE you launch into a programme of motivational activities aimed at lifting employee morale and performance. Now I want to share some of my favourite motivational tactics.  

However, before I give you my list, there are several things to keep in mind when designing an overall employee motivation strategy.

Balance: No single approach works for everyone. Take a holistic approach to cover all employee needs when designing a motivation strategy and programme.

Commit: While motivation is an essential contributor towards keeping your employees productive, satisfied, and more likely to stay with you - it also requires constant attention, fine-tuning, time and effort.

Communicate: Don’t rely on mass communications to motivate employees. An open-door policy, coupled with a commitment to one-to-one meetings, can work wonders. And listen. Show that you value your employees by taking on board and acting on their feedback.

That said, let’s get on to my list.

Writing in a notebook

1. Consult the people who matter: Ask your staff what would make their everyday work life better. Responses can range from more plants and fruit baskets to better company processes, equipment and employee benefits.

2. Lead from the front: Trust your employees, let them self-manage and avoid the compulsion to micromanage! Giving your employees more control of when and how they get their work done can improve ownership and efficiency and help keep them motivated. 

3. Recognition programme: Offer a variety of tangible rewards (movie tickets, restaurant vouchers, gift cards etc.) BUT allow the employees to choose what they’d like to receive.

4. Personal praise from management: It could be a handwritten card or note, a mention in the company newsletter, or a call out in a meeting. A whopping 70% of employees say increased recognition from their managers would significantly improve their motivation and morale.

5. Staggered rewards: Don’t make targets so high that people give up halfway through - if not sooner! Set achievable and measurable goals and celebrate milestones with small events like morning teas or pizzas.

6. Celebrate: Whether it’s an individual or company achievement, spread the good news and be specific about why it benefits the company. Monthly employee ‘awards’ meetings, complete with certificates and trophies, contribute to a culture of recognition.

7. Be happy: Positivity has the most impact when it’s top-down! Fostering a doom and gloom attitude undermines the work experience, relationships, and your competitive advantage. In comparison, happiness can raise business productivity by 31% and sales by 37%.

8. Fuel positivity: Keep your employees well-fed, hydrated, and caffeinated! Hunger and tiredness are distracting and demotivating. Research proves that nutrition, in and outside the workplace, can contribute hugely to workplace wellbeing. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that optimal nourishment can raise national productivity levels by 20%. Paying attention to company café menus, curating snack boxes and drink vending machines, and providing fresh fruit will all pay dividends.

9. Break it up and move: Don’t prioritise work hours over wellness! Make sure you place the weight of the business behind making sure that employees (and management) take lunch and coffee breaks, get some fresh air, and exercise, and work reasonable hours. Don’t forget to apply this policy to your remote workers too! (Lunchtime or after work running clubs and local gym discounts are a great idea too!).

10. Take a smaller but more consistent approach to bonuses: Staff can perceive an annual bonus as disappointing or unfair, and this may damage, not drive, workplace motivation! Consider issuing bonuses quarterly to provide a more consistent boost to morale. Also, don’t forget those quiet high-performers whose behind-the-scenes contribution to business success is often unsung and unnoticed.

11. Give everyone something to get behind: Whether it’s sponsoring an external charity, or entering teams in corporate challenges, a shared goal gives everyone something to get behind and reinforces your position as a caring and involved employer.

12. The feel-good factor: The offer of more flexible hours, paid leave to celebrate birthdays or work anniversaries, job sharing and the ability to work remotely (even after COVID-19) can not only raise spirits but improve productivity and reduce absenteeism - often more so than cash rewards.

13. Invest in teamwork: A sense of belonging, group achievement and peer recognition can deliver its own rewards! According to TINYpulse, peers, not money, are the number one influence on their colleagues, and the source of 20% of all employees going the extra mile. ‘Compensation is now viewed as just the baseline reason for taking a job. Camaraderie plays the true motivating role in encouraging employees to outperform expectations.’

There are many, many other great tactics you can build into your motivation strategy - my list is just the tip of the happiness iceberg. While it’s easy to put forward ways to motivate people which are based on just having fun, they are like a block of chocolate or a glass of wine, only enjoyable while they last.

A consistent, inclusive and well-considered approach is key to building a resilient and motivated workplace, as is keeping your finger on the pulse of employee sentiment. To overcome the dips in morale that come with times of stress and anxiety, make sure you are one step ahead of the curve led by a sound strategy and the technology and tools you need to keep it on track.

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