Delegate, Challenge, Manage: How to Boost Employee Motivation

Cash-strapped managers will be pleased to learn that pay rises are not the only way to motivate employees. Once you understand what drives individuals within your organisation, you can start focusing on practical ways to develop a motivated workforce. Fulfilled, committed staff tend to go hand-in-hand with a more productive business. So, what should you think about if you want a better-functioning business and more motivated employees?

Why focus on motivation?

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, employee motivation is central to retaining a committed workforce. This is especially true for Generation Y (employees who were born in the 1980s and 1990s). This generation tends to prioritise the following:

  • Career development
  • Training opportunities
  • Responsibility
  • A pleasant working environment
  • A sense of being able to ‘make a difference’ within an organisation

By providing this, you are more likely to keep hold of top talent and keep the cost of staff recruitment to a minimum. Once you’ve got a committed set of staff, increasing productivity and profit is the next logical step. Employee motivation is central to this. Research consistently shows that companies who focus on employee engagement outperform their competitors. Finally, you should consider your team’s well being. A motivated workforce is more likely to be happier and healthier. As a result, your business should feel the benefits with fewer sick days and higher rates of productivity.

How to grow a motivated workforce

Before their first day on the job, new programmers at Netflix receive a phone call to find out the precise computer set up they prefer to work with. When they arrive, everything is ready and waiting for them — just as they like it. New starters are assigned a mentor who fully briefs them on the ethos of the company, the opportunities available, and how their contribution will fit within the company.

This is an example of onboarding. Getting your new starters motivated and making them feel like they belong from the outset. Around 40% of employees who leave their jobs do so in the first six months. By implementing a programme to welcome new recruits, you can ensure that your business isn’t one where employees are jumping ship.

Delegate rather than micromanage

By micromanagement, we mean closely (perhaps too closely) controlling and observing everything your employees do. Micromanagement can leave many workers feeling they lack responsibility and trust from their company. If you tend to micromanage every move your employees make, it’s safe to say you are not making the best use of your time.

Ask your workers how they feel about their current day-to-day activities, and whether they want to take on more responsibility. Consider how you might be able to re-allocate tasks to keep employees empowered and engaged. Also, think about whether it is possible to take a more ‘hands-off’ approach — giving your team more control over their actions. As well as increasing motivation, this can also help free up some of your own time and decrease your hectic workload.

Training and internal progression

Whenever you need to fill a relatively senior position, do you always recruit from outside your firm? Bringing in fresh talent can be a good thing, but if external recruitment is your usual procedure, next time take a look at your own workforce first.

An absence of promotion prospects can demotivate ambitious employees. Carry out regular staff reviews to find out where individuals see themselves advancing within the firm, and think about offering training programmes to help ambitious staff reach their goals. You can then make informed judgements accordingly.

Appraisal and reward

If a big project has been successfully completed, thanks to plenty of hard work on the part of your team, have you acknowledged and thanked them for their efforts? If you overlook this, employees could end up with the impression that you haven’t noticed or simply don’t care what they do.

Rewards do not necessarily have to involve cash. How about offering an extra day’s leave, for instance? You may even want to look at the approach of Virgin. They reportedly allow ‘unlimited’ holidays, for those employees who are up to date on their work.

Open door policy and encouraging new ideas

Make it clear that employees should be able to approach you in the event of any concern or issue. Motivation can also be boosted by showing employees that their opinion counts. For example, put in place a forum for your team to submit suggestions on how to improve office culture — perhaps a monthly ideas meeting or a suggestions box.

Motivating staff does not need to be an impossible task, it can be achieved in many ways. Supporting a happy work-life balance is another fantastic method to consider. For advice on this, and more people-management tips, head over to the help centre.

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