5 Best Steps To Raise Employee Motivation In The Workplace

employee motivation in the workplace

Introduction to Employee motivation in the workplace:

Employee motivation in the workplace can be a tricky thing. But if there’s one player that holds the key cards, it’s the manager. Like recent management researches consistently re-iterate“Employees leave (or stick with) their Managers, not their Companies”! If you are a manager of some sort: people manager, human resource manager, finance manager, operations manager or any-other-sort of manager, you’re possibly on the constant lookout for ways to improve employee motivation in the workplace. In this post, we give you 5 more clever ways to tap into this.

How to raise employee motivation in the workplace?

  1. Increase you connect with Employees

Look, it’s all about connections this century. The internet, social media, cloud computing, heck even our traditional mailbox (along with its modern peers: email and sea-mail) have all dramatically evolved to help us connect more with others. So begin your exercise to raise employee motivation in the workplace by connecting with each member on your team.

Let’s talk a bit about the personal connection here. You’d be surprised to know the large number of managers we meet, who’ve never shared a friendly cup of coffee or a meal with several members on their team. Sure, they’ve been to team meetings and team greetings and several team outings. But if you want that all-important one-on-one to connect that guarantees employee motivation activities and loyalty, it has to be done at a personal level. How else will you find out the *important* stuff: like if he’s happy with his life, his wife, his JOB? If this is important to someone on your team, it’s your business to make it important to you.

Then there’s professional connects, that really, we managers tend to take for granted. It’s bound to happen on the job. Or does it?

We assume that a few words of encouragement and the yearly appraisal is enough to keep the (professional) connection alive. But this is where disconnects start to creep in. For instance, look back at a time when an employee was mighty surprised by his or her low rating/ hike. Or that time when someone shocked you with their resignation. These situations imply that the employee and his/ her manager have disparate views on their professional reality. Yep, professional disconnects.

So what can we managers do to bridge this disconnect? Here are some ideas:

  • We could schedule monthly sessions with individuals. (This may sound like a lot when you have a large team, but if you’re persistent, you could find innovative ways to make this happen. This could even happen over a cup of coffee, killing 2 birds with 1 stone.) The intent is to have a brief yet fruitful discussion on how the employee is performing, and update him on opportunities for expansion. This will remove any disconnect between you even as you show that you care about their growth (professional or otherwise).
  • We would also schedule regular sessions with the entire team, sharing both good news (great financial results, appreciation from clients or senior management, appreciation for star performers, etc.) and bad news (dismal financial results, possibility of low hikes for this season, possibility of overtime to see through the next deadline, etc.) Whatever you have to share, end these meetings on a high note with some fun and cheer.
  • Introduce top performers to senior management (either formally, via a well-drafted mail, or informally, perhaps in the cafeteria). All employees love to be noticed so this casual act will win you huge brownie points and send employee motivation and performance rising like a rocket.

One universal rule to remember is that connections happen at the individual level. It’s great to connect as a team (to keep their spirit together), but it’s equally important to give individual attention to every member, to keep their interest and loyalty alive.

  1. Win them over with rewards

This is another area we managers tend to underutilize. We are so consumed with showcasing our best all the time that we often end up inadvertently ignoring mediocre members of our team.

You see, a professional team is much like a football team. Not every player can be the star quarterback or the key striker. But every member has his place and contributes to the success/ failure of the team. It makes sense then to reward every employee during a good season, no matter how meager their contribution.

Everybody likes to receive rewards; they have the universal ability to catapult employee motivation and performance like nothing else can. This IS the absolute, unflinching truth. However, it’s up to your innovative self to determine the nature of the reward (ideally based on performance).

Thankfully, rewards come in different flavors and sizes.

  • Monetary rewards:

This is the most obvious lot. But what is not obvious is that it sometimes makes sense to bestow a monetary reward even on a mediocre performer, when other factors are at play. For instance, he may have served for many years at the company, and you want to reward his loyalty. Or he may already be at the lowest end of the pay-scale, thereby contributing to reduced employee motivation in the workplace and poor performance.

While this is often the most difficult to award, it is (but naturally) the most effective reward. If you choose to go this path, ensure that the employee also realizes the qualities being rewarded (performance, loyalty, attitude, etc.).

  • Recognition awards:

Again, this can come in different flavors. A personalized plaque, an appreciation mail from the top boss, a gift-certificate, heck even a free lunch with you where the bills on you can all go a long way in raising employee motivation and performance for “attention seeking” members!

  • Reward a challenge:

The absolute cream of top performers thrives not just on money or recognition, but also on constant challenges. For this rare employee, his employee motivation and performance hits the roof when he’s tasked to push himself beyond his comfort zone. These are your dearest employees, so ensure you that have a steady stream of worthwhile challenges to keep them eager and hungry for more.

A couple of words of caution here: the best way to determine the *right* type of award for a team member is to simply ask. Ask them how they like to be rewarded. (You can do this over a casual chat when professional boundaries are down.) Don’t take their responses for granted!

We know of a manager who was flummoxed when his employee quit, right after receiving a star-performer award on a public platform! The employee’s grouse was that he absolutely hated public attention of any sort. When acknowledged in public, he felt that his manager had “disturbed him and put him on the spot”.

Well, we did say those employee motivation activities is a tricky thing (and sometimes way above our normal logic)!

  1. Find out what truly matters

Rewards and awards apart, take time to find out what each employee really, really wants.

You could chat them up and ask straight, “What truly triggers your mojo and improves your employee motivation and performance in the workplace?” (Oh yes, be that kind of supportive manager.) Their answers will vary and depend on where they are in their personal and professional life. For example, an employee could hold money, experience, recognition, work-life balance, technical challenges, proximity to their home, geographical location, niche field area, friends at work, convenience or other factors dear.

As always, expect to be surprised at the answers. For example, we once had someone tell his manager, “I work just for the fun of it. As long as you give me a window seat and a good view, I’m in”. And, this incidentally came from a mighty hard worker!

Finally, be certain to make use of the information you get. Don’t just sit on it (which we managers tend to do when too many things claim our attention). Put a tangible plan in place, and share it with your employee. He will brighten up as he rests assured that his top needs are:

  1. Acknowledged
  2. Addressed

This is a fool-proof plan to strengthen employee motivation in the workplace.

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  1. Plan their growth, with them

If there’s one thing that universally gets employee motivation activities pumping, it’s growth: personal and professional growth. We all strive to expand and reach our highest potential. If you can consciously plan, share and participate in this expansion for a member of your team, you’ve got their loyalty and friendship for life!

Here are some tried and tested ideas that always work:

  • Empower them to take control of their advancement.

If there’s one myth that percolates the professional world, it’s this: “my manager is responsible for my promotion and growth”!

(Huh?? Like we managers have a magic wand that can miraculously cause desired promotions and hikes. If we did, we’d be sure to use it first on ourselves!)

To debunk this myth, let your team know upfront that this passive and lazy attitude will NOT get them to the top. Do this even as you empower them to take control of their growth. Ask them,

  • What professional path do they enjoy? Are they tech-savvy, people-savvy, operations-savvy, financially savvy, etc.?
  • Where do they want to see themselves, 2 years from now? 5 years later. At the peak of their career.
  • How do they want to pace their (long) career?

Get them to contemplate deeply on their career; it’s a marathon and not a 100m stint. And the onus is on them to make their dream career happen. But of course, you are fully available to support and participate in its realization.

  • Strengthen their professional skills with adequate training.

This may come as a surprise but training is yet another underutilized facet in the professional world. Yes, we attend a lot of training (skill-based, process-based, etc.). But often, employees attend training merely because they should (their manager volunteered them for it), or because they can (and treat this as a welcome break from a monotonous job). They hardly ever attend training because they want to do so, and think it worthwhile.

The problem lies in the lack of communication. Either the employee or his manager is unaware of the purpose or need for training. Instead, consider planning your team’s training, with their participation. Share with them how you think this will aid their *growth*. (Yes, that magic word again!) Give them clear directives on the tangibles you want them to achieve due to it, post-training. With this simple communication in place, training will not only enhance organizational effectiveness but also employee motivation activities and fulfillment.

  1. Be a shining example unto yourself

This is perhaps the most subtle yet powerful facet to improve employee motivation in the workplace (which is why we saved it for the last).

This requires YOU to have YOUR employee motivation in the workplace at an all-time high.

You see, employees don’t just love/ hate their managers, they also tend to follow the good, bad and ugly traits of their managers.

If you come in every day kicked to be at work, you will automatically radiate and spread enthusiasm and excitement with your team. On the other hand, if you walk in as Mr. I-don’t-care-sour-face; that too will be acknowledged and followed by your team. The face and attitude you wear to work everyday matters, and is contagious to your team!

That said, we empathize the times when a personal setback impacts your professional mindset. Your employee motivation in the workplace is down not because you dislike your work or are unhappy with your boss, but because you have other pressing personal matters to deal with. You know for sure that you simply have to last through this personal phase, and your employee motivation in the workplace will bounce back to its sky-high normalcy real soon.

It is the same with your team.

When you find a member sliding down the employee motivation and performance index, do what you would perhaps like your manager to do for you. Have an open chat with him/ her, and find out what ails them. Even if there’s nothing you can do to alter their personal situation, knowing that they have your support and empathy can bring their employee motivation in the workplace back to a positive level.

Employee motivation in the workplace is often taken for granted; yet, it is a huge factor that makes or breaks a company’s success. The fact that you’re here actively pursuing this topic shows that you and your company have your professional heart in the right place. The trick is to also keep your mind on this goal through the year, so your employees stay consistently motivated, productive and happy.

We believe that it’s possible, don’t you?

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