Top five ways to motivate employeesThis article was posted on theguardian.com on June 27 2014.
What can business leaders do to motivate employees and encourage them to perform on a day-to-day basis?
To a great number of businesses and organisations, people are one of the most important assets. Every company needs creatives, decision makers and visionaries, but equally important are the employees on the front line who give their all for the cause day-by-day.
If businesses want to maximise output and drive revenue, they need to get their staff members working as effectively as possible. But how should they go about this? It is generally accepted that happy workers tend to be productive ones - meaning there are clear benefits to keeping people engaged and motivated.
Here are five top tips for keeping employees motivated and boosting their performance:
Communicate with employees
It may sound like a very basic point, but employee communication is overlooked in too many organisations. Staff members need to know that they are valued, understood and perhaps most importantly, listened to. If an employee has a concern or some other issue that may prevent them from working productively, they need to know that communication channels are open.
Taking the time to converse with employees can make them feel more comfortable in their jobs, more settled and better-motivated to work hard for the organisation. It can also help reinforce positive behaviour - so employers should always be looking for opportunities to provide positive feedback.
Reward strong performance
If employees perform well, they need to be rewarded. This can be in terms of extrinsic rewards - such as additional pay, benefits or opportunities for promotion - or intrinsic - through simple gratitude and recognition for a job well done. Employers need to gauge which type of reward is appropriate in each individual situation, based upon overall aims and the expectations of staff members.
If a key employee has put in a significant amount of extra work on a project, it may not be sufficient to simply thank them for their efforts - they may expect some pecuniary reward for the additional effort they have made. But equally, businesses need to ensure they do not over-stretch their budgets and create unrealistic expectations where pay and benefits are concerned.
Involve employees in decision making
Major business decisions will always be made in the boardroom by the executive team, but this does not mean employees should be excluded from this process. Hundreds of different decisions are made every day within companies - from the ground level right up to the top of the enterprise. And giving staff members the autonomy to make them - where appropriate - can boost morale and help increase job satisfaction.
Involving employees in decision making processes can also help identify potential managerial talent, which could help grow the organisation in the future - as well as keep hold of talented individuals. Delegating work of this nature can also free up time for people higher up the company to concentrate on value-adding tasks.
In a similar vein, employees should feel that they can make suggestions and present new ideas which could improve the way the organisation works. An open forum for innovation not only makes employees feel they are more involved in the company, but a great new idea may unlock addition additional value for the enterprise.
Offer training and development
Employees want to feel as if they are constantly developing in the workplace - learning new skills and gaining experience which will stand them in good stead in the future. Each individual worker will have ambitions of their own, and as such it is important that employers support their professional development.
Otherwise employees may feel that they are stagnating in their current role, increasing the likelihood that they will leave the organisation. Staff attrition inevitably adds to business costs, not only in terms of lost productivity but also recruitment and training expenditure for the replacement worker.
Define the employees' role
Employees should have the opportunity to move up the ranks and better themselves within the company they work for - otherwise they are likely to go and work elsewhere. But at whatever level they are working at a particular time, they should have a well-defined job description, and understand the role they are working in. This provides a context for everything they do, and ensures they feel a sense of purpose while at work.
Staff members need to understand how the job they do contributes to the overall goals of the organisation, and where they fit into the bigger picture. This requires the executive team to provide regular updates on company performance, the industry, new products or services and other developments.
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