How to motivate employees

Every employer wants their employees to be happy, motivated, productive and efficient. But how many employees are? Motivation and staff morale can be difficult to measure or quantify, which is why many employers often overlook it. Unhappy employees are usually unproductive and inefficient, and can cause a negative working environment for other staff. Not addressing the problem can turn out to be very expensive for employers. However, there are some simple steps you can take that will improve motivation, without costing the earth.

Motivation building should start on the first day an employee joins the company. Firstly, make sure you’re prepared for the new employee – have their desk/work area ready, get their business cards printed, set-up their phone and email, and ensure you have the new employee starter pack ready with all their employment documents. Make sure they’ve been introduced to the rest of the staff, especially their team members. It’s a good idea to ask someone to “buddy” them for a few weeks to ensure they settle in. By making the new employee feel an important part of the company from day one, you’re building their motivation from the outset.

Some great motivation techniques include:

Treat everyone as an individual

It’s important to understand everyone has different personalities and different needs. A great way to motivate staff is to understand them and be flexible to their personal situations. For example, if an employee lives a long distance away, you may decide to let them start and finish work early to avoid heavy traffic.

Make employees feel they are doing something meaningful

Doing meaningful work is generally more important than money or recognition for most employees. Even if the job role is fairly mundane, there are still ways to make it meaningful. Start by establishing your company’s vision and goals and make sure you include your employees in the process, this will motivate them to achieve the goals and feel they are doing something meaningful.

Have daily briefings

For staff to feel motivated, it’s vital they feel included in what’s happening within the company. By having a 10 minute daily briefing, you can give company updates (both good updates and challenges). This makes everyone feel like part of a team, and establishes a strong feeling of unity.

Give employees clear job descriptions and hold them accountable for their roles

Employees need to fully understand what is expected from them in their job role. Having clear job descriptions and expected results will make employees accountable, which in turn helps to keep motivation and productivity high.

Have (and more importantly, show) faith and trust in your employees

If you don’t believe your employees can do something, they won’t believe it either. It’s important to show employees you trust them and have faith in their abilities. Let them make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions. You may find it difficult at first, but it will soon become part of normal working life.

Praise good work publicly

If an employee has done a good job, or achieved a specific accomplishment, congratulate them in front of everyone. Recognition for good work is one of the best motivators there is. A perfect time to praise someone would be during your daily briefing meeting, as all employees will be present. Constructive praise, rather than monetary rewards, produces significantly better results. It also encourages other employees to achieve goals and perform to the best of their ability.

Reprimand employees privately

When you need to reprimand an employee, do it privately and follow company procedures. By not embarrassing employees in front of their peers, it builds loyalty and keeps motivation high.

Pay a fair wage

If an employee is working to a high performance level, and sees that an employee with a low performance level is being paid the same, this can cause major friction. In addition to standard wages, it’s a good idea to have performance related pay, if possible. This will ensure you set expectations, and employees will be compensated in line with their performance.

Encourage ideas and innovation

Some of the best ideas come from “frontline” employees. By encouraging new ideas, not only are you helping the company to innovate, but the employees feel like an important part of the business.

Lead by example

To have productive and motivated employees, you need productive and motivated leaders. It’s important for employees to see management behaving in the same way they expect the staff to behave. Leading by example is a great way to motivate employees.

Fire people when needed

This can be a difficult one, but if an employee is consistently under performing or causing problems, you need to have the strength to fire them. Problem employees or under performers can have far reaching consequences across the business. When other employees see individuals getting away with underperformance or bad behaviour, they become de-motivated and start to under perform as well. Therefore, as long as people understand why the employee was fired, this can actually motivate employees into performing better.

Encourage training and new skills

Generally, employees want to grow their skills and expertise. By encouraging training you can help to motivate your employees to perform better and develop their roles. Well trained staff take pride in their work, and this shows to other staff and external groups such as customers.

Get the little things right

It’s often the day to day little issues that employees get most worked up about. These can be overlooked as they’re not seen as significant issues to management. By getting the little things right, such as basic kitchen facilities, well-maintained workspaces, a clean working environment etc., it can make a huge difference to employees’ perceptions about how valued they are. These issues are usually simple to sort and do not cost the earth, so it’s a quick-win for the employer.

Remember – employees are your biggest asset, so treat them that way!