5 Secret Ways to Motivate Your Employees
It’s no secret that highly motivated employees are more productive… but the “how to” involved in actually sparking that motivation sometimes seems as mysterious as the location of Jimmy Hoffa’s final resting place. Especially during times when the economy is less than lively — a scenario that transforms the possibility of cash incentives into a virtual pipe dream — spurring motivation among workers can seem an insurmountable challenge.
But take heart, business owners and managers, because employee motivation is possible – and it’s within your reach. Consider these five secret – i.e. creative – ways to think outside the box and motivate your employees to work harder – and be happier doing it!
Think Outside the – Cash – Box
Say you own a small business that was hit hard by the economic downturn. You’re struggling to get by, and though you’d love to provide raises and cash incentives for our employees to boost their morale and increase their motivation, it’s just not financially feasible. Try non-cash incentives, instead.
Believe it or not, money isn’t always the most effective motivator. Wait, stop laughing for a minute: Several recent studies show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, increasing financial rewards don’t always enhance performance.
So what does? A 2005 study suggests that workers’ motivation skyrockets when they come in contact with the people their work benefits. In other words, employees need to know that their work is meaningful in order to get excited about it.
Capitalize on this instinct by showcasing the good that your company does, whether that’s through a product you create, a service you provide, or through service projects or fundraisers that benefit the community. (Hint: If your company doesn’t do projects to help the public good, it’s time to start giving back.) It doesn’t even have to involve money or donations; partner with a local non-profit or school and encourage your volunteers to get involved. Oh, yeah, and set the example with your own do-good behavior.
Speaking of setting examples, what are you doing to model motivated, productive behavior on the job? How’s your attitude? Are you passionate about the work you’re doing and proud of what the company accomplishes? When a leader spends their time groaning and moaning, workers will follow their example, creating the perfect recipe for unhappy, disgruntled employees who don’t care enough to give their all.
So cheer up, put on a happy face, and help your employees to stretch their limits and achieve. Encourage them to express what inspires them, then let them apply their interests and abilities in that area.
Communication is Key
Speaking of expression, consider your communication style. Do you have an open door policy or is that portal slammed tight? If your employees don’t feel heard, they won’t feel valued – and they won’t be motivated to produce.
The answer is simple: Ask your employees what they want. Conduct a survey or a series of interviews. Encourage back-and-forth at meetings. Set up an anonymous suggestion box or questionnaire. Listen to what your employees say and respond to their needs.
Give a Little
Pay raises may be off the table, for now, but in the meantime, run an incentive program. Offer non-cash, but still attractive perks, such as a reserved parking space or a better office chair. Reward top producers or sellers with perks such as spa coupons, restaurant gift cards or tickets to sporting events. Up the ante for top performers with perks like an extra day off or a better schedule. These bennies don’t have to break the bank, but they can make a big difference.
Never, ever underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. In the work environment, it’s all too easy to focus on what went wrong, rather than what went right. However, criticism equals instant de-motivation.
Next time you feel the need to criticize or be negative, stop… take a deep breath… and simply ask, “How could this have been done differently?” Work together to come up with solutions.
Your employees can make or break your business. Keeping them motivated through creative means may just represent the best investment you ever make.