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Engaged, motivated employees are the best resource a business can have. When workers align their own success to that of the organization, growth and prosperity follow. While high pay is certainly a motivator, not every business can afford to hand out regular raises and bonuses. Fortunately, there are other ways to motivate employees that don’t involve increased labor spending.
Here are nine ways you can help keep your employees motivated.
9 ways to motivate employees
Provide supportive leadership.
Empower individual workers.
Build a positive work environment.
Create a healthy work environment.
Encourage teamwork and collaboration.
Eliminate the negatives.
Communicate with your employees.
Update your technology.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these keys to motivating employees.
1. Provide supportive leadership
Few workers respond well to autocratic leadership, and “my way or the highway” bosses are a significant factor in high employee turnover rates. Supportive leaders work closely with employees, encourage them to grow, offer constructive criticism that doesn’t feel like scolding, and — perhaps most importantly — teach by example by holding themselves to high standards of accountability.
While cracking the whip and turning on the pressure might lead to short-term productivity gains, in the long run, it will lead to worker burnout and turnover.
There will be times when employees need to pull together and go the extra mile, but if employees are never permitted to slow down, they won’t have the energy for those special challenges.
2. Empower individual workers
If employees have opportunities to express themselves and suggest ideas, they will feel like they have a bigger stake in an organization’s success. Allowing self-expression — such as designing their workspace, planning events they feel passionate about, or being given an opportunity to lead an occasional project — can have a huge effect on employee motivation and satisfaction.
3. Build a positive work environment
The importance of making the workplace feel like a supportive family can’t be overstated. Happy employees are productive employees, and no one’s happy in an environment that feels like an oppressive boiler room. Encourage employees to share information and knowledge with a collaborative workplace, an open-door policy for managers and supervisors, and an environment that doesn’t punish or shame workers for making mistakes.
4. Create a healthy work environment
The physical work environment is as critical as the mental one. Things like natural light (nobody wants to work in a dungeon), updated decorating and good air quality help create a positive workspace to motivate employees.
It’s also important that workers be allowed to take regular breaks. According to work-life balance website Café Quill, sitting in one spot all day long can be surprisingly strenuous.
Also ensure you’re not expecting employees to eat at their desks. This can leads to unhealthy food choices and “brain burnout” since workers aren’t being given a chance to mentally and physically recharge.
5. Encourage teamwork and collaboration
While most employees do want an opportunity to shine, it’s nearly impossible to do so in isolation. Team projects in which employees are united by shared successes help workers learn to trust one another and encourage each other. Teamwork also fosters a sense of healthy competition, which can motivate employees to reach greater heights of creativity, as well as establish a willingness to meet challenges.
6. Reward successes to motivate employees
Everyone likes recognition for a job well done, and valued employees are more engaged with their work. It doesn’t have to be a cash bonus, though. Showing employees you value them with verbal praise or callouts in a team newsletter can go a long way toward helping workers feel positive about their jobs, coworkers, supervisor and company.
7. Eliminate the negatives
Most dissatisfied workers can cite a laundry list of toxic work elements. Bullying co-workers; inaccessible, autocratic supervisors; a lack of recognition for a job well done; and boring, repetitive work are just a few examples of things that turn workers off from their jobs.
In identifying the biggest roadblocks to success, it helps to ask the employees directly for their input and listen to what they have to say.
This step has the added bonus of helping employees feel that their opinions matters.
8. Communicate with your employees
If your workers don’t have a clear picture of what you want from them, they won’t be able to help you achieve it. Regular communications that include setting out short-term and long-term goals in clear, unambiguous language can help eliminate the confused, overwhelmed feelings that kill many workers’ positive attitudes toward their jobs.
9. Update your technology
Wise choices in technology can help motivate employees. Workflow software, for example, can help put projects on a reasonable timeline and ensure that workers feel confident they’re on target with their work — not drowning under rising water. Many companies today rely on dashboards, but these often present a static image of a single event. Timelines can help workers gain a better feel for the overall dynamics of a project.
“Gamification” of enterprise solutions in which employees earn points and badges for completing their work well can also drive employee motivation.
The key to motivating employees is to avoid secretive, high-pressure, “toxic” workplaces that seem to punish mistakes and ignore successes. Methods of persuasion and engagement will vary from company to company, but all motivated workforces have one thing in common: They are made of happy workers who respect their colleagues and supervisors, and strive to create a “work family.”
While it’s certainly the job of employees to offer their best efforts to their employer, the reverse is also true. When companies value workers, workers will value their employment.