But daily life and mundane activities can get to them, making even the most enthusiastic of employees lose their spark.
Motivation as a virtue is not very easy to understand. It is complex and intertwined between various facets, mostly psychological. In order to motivate employees, relying on theory will not work. The carrot and stick is an old concept. Carrot refers to the reward for compliance and stick refers to the consequence of non-compliance. However, this does not ensure sustained levels of motivation.
While there are many ways that leaders adopt to keep their staff motivated, here are a top few you can start with:
1. Recognize efforts
According to a study by Pavel Vosk, a Washington-based business and management consultant, the biggest contributor to demotivation is a lack of recognition for extra effort.
Rewards such as bonuses, perks, monetary vouchers can work. But it need not always be something related to money. Small gestures can also go a long way. Always give due recognition to high performers in front of their colleagues. Be genuine and substantiate it with examples.
There is no one single way to this. Recognition can range from being an email expressing gratitude to walking towards your employee’s desk and thanking him on behalf of the entire office. You can also hold sessions where you can give some sort of a badge or a certificate of appreciation to those who outshine on a regular basis. Whatever is the way you choose, make sure you do it.
2. Balance the ownership
A lot might argue that too much guidance or interference in an employee’s work might end up demotivating him. Being disempowered and dependent on superiors for every little execution can eventually lead to dissatisfaction. While this is true, in my experience, the opposite is also equally true.
For employees to do well at work, it is crucial for them to not only do great work, but also to feel great about their work. While trusting your employee to figure things out on their own gives them a sense of pride and responsibility, being completely unavailable can push them further against the wall. There needs to a balance which defines what areas need to be handled by the employee. The environment should be such that whenever there is any scope of doubt or query, there is someone the employee can reach out to. This is where the critical role of managers come in.
3. Do not forget to have fun
Your best employees work really hard and they expect to be rewarded for it. No one likes to work for a boring company with no fun activities. I have also noticed “mandatory” fun activities that companies organize for their employees. That’s sort of the worst. Such events not only demotivate their employees but push them further away by asking for their valuable time for something they dont even want in the first place.
Make your office a space where employees love to go to everyday. Research reveal productivity gains of anywhere from 12% to 20% when measures are taken to ensure employees have a physically welcoming atmosphere to perform their duties. Find ways to encourage employees to enjoy each others company in a non democratic environment. Having fun does not mean adjusting activities around the 9 hours of drudgery. Fun activities need a lot of thought and should be organized in a way that do not force your employees to get happier with what they are getting.
4. Provide relevance
The strongest motivation dose you can give your employees is by telling them how crucial their individual and team contribution is towards achieving larger goals that the organization envisions. There is nothing more demotivating than someone’s work responsible only for the paycheck every month. Employees need to find meaning and purpose in their work and leaders need to state it clearly to them.
Provide context to your employees and answer questions like why this work needs to be done. How can this particular task at hand help the organizations scale up further in terms of revenues or any other tangible goal? Motivate your employees in the beginning by showing them the larger picture.
5. Communicate through actions and otherwise
Employees need to feel like they can reach out and voice their concerns and opinions in a free environment. This will not only keep them motivated, but also allow for organizational growth as it allows for faster identification of problems. Leaders need to demonstrate regularly that they are not just open for feedback, but also willing to listen to employee concerns. Leaders also need to set themselves as an example because employees will do what they see. You can command respect only when you set an example by providing an example worth following.
Just like how companies put thought into building products that provide solutions to customers and make them happy, employee motivation strategies also require deep focus. Employees need a real-world understanding of how their individual contribution impact and touch people’s lives. Make sure you tell them that they matter more often.
Employee motivation cannot be instilled in a day. Monetary rewards in terms of salary hikes and bonuses are definitely motivating for employees to work harder and stick to a company. But if you want your best employees to stick and be productive over longer time periods, you will have to plan your strategy in a way that focuses on a number of non-monetary rewards as well.