10 Things to Motivate Your Employees

Employee motivation boosts employee performance, service delivery, and business profitability, all while keeping the levels of staff turnover low. Here are 10 things to motivate your employees.

Enhance communication in the workplace

Effective communication in the workplace will motivate your employees by eliminating the trust issues and collaboration challenges that come with miscommunication. You, therefore, need to ensure that your communications:

Are clear to all team members. If your workforce is multilingual, invest in a good translation system to ensure that no information gets lost in translation.

Are well documented. Even when you make an impactful off-the-cuff comment, be sure to put it down in writing.

Go both ways. Avoid a situation where you only give instructions without asking for feedback and opinions from your subordinates. Be a good listener.

Mostly face-to-face. You want your employees to feel seen and heard, especially when they are in trouble. Watch your body language and tone of voice while at it so you don’t come across as angry or upset.

Are factual. Sometimes people create false stories about colleagues they don’t like. You must always refuse to act on information until you authenticate it.

Equip employees for success

People only succeed in their work when they have the right tools and equipment for the job. You, therefore, cannot purport to motivate your employees if the equipment they have is outdated and inefficient. To equip employees for success, ensure:

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That they have the best colleagues in terms of compatibility, passion, and expertise. Ensure that your hiring process is robust enough to produce quality personnel who have the right skills to help their colleagues excel. Furthermore, ensure that your new hires represent your company’s values and can blend in perfectly with the rest of the team.

That all your tech devices and software are up-to-date. Ensure that the internet connection at the office is top-notch.

That all employees get sufficient and regular training with regard to new techniques, industry innovations, and technologies.

That employees don’t sit at their desks for long hours. Provide them with standing desks to encourage them to stand regularly. Note that long sedentary periods leave employees vulnerable to back pain and lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes, which lowers their performance and motivation.

That your remote employees have all the collaboration and communication tools they need for optimal productivity. Here are important tips for equipping remote teams.

Offer competitive salaries, perks, and other benefits

Competitive pay rates enable your employees to afford decent living without needing to have multiple jobs. The raised level of dignity encourages them to work even harder. However, a good salary alone won’t keep employees motivated for long. You have to back it up with attractive perks and compensation initiatives such as:

Equal pay initiative: It’s natural for people to feel discriminated against when someone they have equal responsibilities gets a bigger reward. Conduct an equal pay audit and ensure that all workers get equal compensation for equal work regardless of age, gender, or race.

Healthcare benefits: Healthcare is expensive. Anyone would be excited and motivated by a comprehensive healthcare, vision, and dental package.

Employer-sponsored retirement plans: Every worker in the world wants to save for retirement, except that economic hardships usually get in the way. Take that weight off your employees’ shoulders by establishing different retirement plans that employees in different ranks can afford.

–  A college scholarship program for young employees.

Flexible work hours: Unless it hurts your bottom line, give employees the freedom to come to the office only when it’s necessary or when it’s convenient for them. Some employees are actually more productive when they work remotely.

Family perks: Young professionals want favourable paternity/maternity leave packages. New moms want to work in offices that have dedicated rooms for nursing moms.

Bonuses: This is the oldest trick in the bag but it still hasn’t lost its magic. The bonuses could be anything from gift cards to gym memberships.

Community-minded perks: Many employees want to make a positive impact in their communities. Such employees will appreciate some time off for community empowerment programs and other humanitarian initiatives. Even better, invest in regular company-sponsored charity events within the neighbourhoods where your employees live.

Paid leave: Too much work without a break leads to burnout, dip in performance, and demotivation. Offer and encourage employees to take annual leave and spend a few days away from the daily grind. That promotes health and happiness in your workforce.

Sustainability perks: The world is gravitating toward sustainability. Your employees will appreciate perks that facilitate them to lower their carbon footprint. You can, for example, incentivize them to buy bicycles as a substitute for private cars.

Motivate your employees with a homely office

It hurts a little every time someone has to leave the cosiness of their home and head to work. Your staff members will feel a lot better if the office is warm, cosy, and homely. A homely office has, among other things:

Comfortable furniture, from the office chairs to the couches in the break room.

Live greenery. Plants inject warmth and life into an office.

Beautiful candle scents (or essential oils) for optimal aromatherapy.

Sufficient lighting. Replace overhead lights with accent and floor lamps for a more relaxing office space.

Inspiring, peaceful, and relaxing wall art.

Promote diversity and inclusivity in the workplace

Everyone hires for diversity these days, but not many employers want to confront the status quo of conformity and exclusion. Promoting diversity and inclusivity is a long, tedious process. You must be brave enough to address your own biases and be consistent in your advocacy for inclusivity. Some of the things you must do to promote diversity are:

Acknowledge the reality that the world is divided along gender, racial, generational, sexual, and religious lines. Also, acknowledge that people from minority groups are often discriminated against. You didn’t create this problem, so you don’t have to be defensive or guilty about it.

Use affirmative action to bring more employees from underrepresented groups on board. While at it, create a framework that makes it easier for exceptional employees from minority groups to rise up the company ranks.

Ensure that minorities in your management team have real executive power and that they use that power to help members of their communities feel at home within the workplace.

Before making any decision that could affect an employee’s career, take time to ponder this question: If this employee shares (doesn’t share) the same social identities as me, how different would my decision have been?

Offer implicit bias training to help your team members, especially from majority groups, to identify and keep their biases in check.

Read more about diversity and inclusivity here in order to create a more diverse and inclusive team.

Create a collaborative space

The flow of knowledge and expertise in a highly collaborative space enhances team performance, employee engagement, innovation, and job satisfaction. To create a collaborative space, start by redesigning your office layout to create a multifunctional floor plan. The choice doesn’t always have to be between an open layout and private cubicles. You can switch to a semi-open deck plan, for example, whereby you create a big quiet space with multiple workstations. This is the space employees will use for focused work and controlled (preferably two-person) brainstorming meetings. You will then need a large conference room where employees go for fully-fledged meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Other than creating collaborative hardware, you also need to change your team’s software and guide employees into a new collaborative dispensation. You will need to:

Create and popularise a shared vision and purpose. Help employees see how working together as a team helps them individually. Help them see the “bigger picture” and understand the role they play in the actualization of that bigger picture.

Foster friendships by encouraging and facilitating employee interactions. Celebrate individual employees’ milestones and important holidays together either in the office or elsewhere.

Create a workplace culture that allows new ideas and innovations to thrive, no matter how unconventional or ambitious they could be. Don’t stifle creativity with too many rules and guidelines.

Encourage self-accountability. Allow employees to experiment and train them to take responsibility for any mistakes that arise from their experimentation. That builds trust.

Invest in an office kitchen and multi-gym equipment

How will an office kitchen motivate your employees?

Well, a stocked-up kitchen (complete with healthy snacks & fruits, cooking appliances, and utensils) is the key to a happy and healthy workforce. A kitchen is a place where employees go to unwind, hold casual meetings, hydrate, prepare/eat healthy foods, and relax. A study published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information in 2019 confirmed that proper nutrition at work boosts productivity and work performance substantially. This is why:

Junk food is quick, cheap, and convenient for a busy worker, but it is also unhealthy. Without a kitchen where employees can prepare or store healthier food, they are likely to default to eating junk.

An office kitchen is essentially an overflow meeting room. Put a few seats and tables in there and it officially becomes the break room where employees go to recharge and socialise.

With a well-equipped gym in the office, on the other hand, employees find it convenient to stay fit and healthy. A gym is also a good space for employees to burn off steam and conceive fresh ideas. For these simple reasons, buy multi-gym equipment that’s easy for employees to use without the guidance of a professional trainer. Ask specifically for gym equipment that fits perfectly in small spaces.

Train yourself to be a good leader of people

Your employees will respect you more and become loyal to you when you lead them well. They will then work extra hard to see your company succeed. To be a good leader of people, you must:

Be transparent: Avoid sleeping on market reports, client feedback, performance reports, and any other information that might help employees grow professionally.

Set clear expectations: Ensure that everyone knows precisely what you want. That makes it easier for employees to organise their work and assess their own performance.

Be respectful even when an employee is in the wrong.

Be appreciative and easy to please. Make a point of appreciating employees who go out of their way to do something beneficial to the company, no matter how small.

Be consultative. That is how you will know the kind of support that employees truly need.

Be positive, enthused, and passionate. Wear a smile everywhere you go. Smiles are contagious.

Be understanding and forgiving. Acknowledge that people are not programmable robots. They will make costly errors sometimes.

Be more personable. Create and maintain meaningful relationships with your staff. Be generous with your time, attention, and good counsel. Be ready to listen to their personal tribulations and be the friend they need at that moment.

Be fair and consistent when reprimanding employees or handling disputes. Together with the team, craft rules and regulations that set up a level playing field for everyone.

Ensure that employees know and trust that you have their backs. Be ready to take a bullet for them when necessary, not only when it is convenient for you.

Support employee career development

You will motivate your employees substantially by creating a clear roadmap for them to build skills and knowledge. Here are some ways of supporting career development in the workplace:

Help employees to visualise their future by setting specific milestones for them and supporting them to achieve those milestones.

Call in guest speakers (industry leaders) to guide employees on prevailing industry trends and standards.

Support work-life balance by giving employees more private days/time. Encourage them to use that time to pursue development courses or attend industry workshops.

Facilitate mentoring and job shadowing in your team.

Incentivise youthful workers to share their technological know-how with their senior colleagues.

Offer career advancement opportunities within the workplace, e.g. by promoting exceptional employees rather than hiring exceptional talents from outside.

Invest in meaningful team building

Team building activities can motivate your employees, but that’s only when done right. Click here for a few examples of meaningful team-building activities that you should consider.

Remember to be creative when coming up with team-building activities for your people. While at it, avoid the following costly mistakes:

Don’t be too egocentric and uptight. Allow yourself to be human; to be vulnerable so that your subordinates can trust you enough to let loose and have genuine fun.

Don’t force employees to do anything they are uncomfortable doing. Ensure that all the activities are optional.

Don’t be too competitive. You should also discourage participants from becoming too competitive.

Don’t judge people on their physical abilities. The goal is to build trust and friendships, not to dominate or judge other people.

Don’t create team-building activities that isolate or discriminate against some members, especially on the grounds of age and religion.

Don’t be ambiguous or vague. Communicate the goals for each activity effectively and sufficiently.

Don’t hold these activities on weekends or holidays. You don’t want to offend employees who probably had other plans.

In Summary

Employee motivation is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take great patience and hard work to accomplish and maintain a well-motivated team. All the best as you embark on this challenging but fulfilling journey.


About the Author

Connor Circle is a Global HR with 20 years of end-to-end contact centre expertise. He has experience across the Contact Centre spanning hiring, training, quality and workforce management. He has been working as a Business Strategist at 4PMTI for several years now.

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