Every business strives to have motivated employees who are putting in their best because they want to work hard rather than because they are required to do so. The following are three ways to help achieve this.
Give employees autonomy
Nobody likes to be micromanaged. When employees are free to structure their own workflow within the confines of their responsibilities, they tend to perform better. “No one likes to have his/her manager breathing down his/her neck — in fact, it drives employees crazy,” writes Dan McCarthy, Director of Executive Development Programs at the Paul College of Business and Economics, in a November 2017 article for TheBalance.com. “Show your employees that you are interested in what they are doing, but you trust them to make their own decisions and do things differently than you might do them.”
Your business may also find value in allowing your employees to work remotely. According to business strategy expert and public speaker Louise Beavers, allowing employees to work remotely has become increasingly popular and has shown to increase productivity, efficiency, engagement and morale as well as reduce turnover and even decrease your overhead.
“By letting your employees work flexible hours on a remote basis, you are contributing to a global phenomenon that many believe will be the future of work,” writes Beavers in a May 2017 article for Entrepreneur.com. “This is a particularly big motivator for younger employees who, by being offered a fun, flexible, and casual working environment, have a more positive view of their bosses and the company for which they work.”
Give meaningful work
Studies have shown that employees are more motivated when they find their work meaningful rather than when they expect a reward. “With more complex tasks, employees were found to be more intrinsically motivated — or pushed forward by forces inside them, like actually enjoying a task because they find it interesting or because they recognize its value,” says Mandy Oaklander, Time.com contributor, in a September 2015 article. “Concentrating on rewards undermines this.”
No matter the job perks, employees will not feel motivated if they don’t believe their work is making a difference. “There’s no worse feeling than knowing your work just doesn’t matter,” McCarthy says. “Every leader has some degree of discretion in being able to eliminate or minimize the amount of non-value-added work that flows into a team.”
Ensuring that every member of the team has meaningful work may require cutting unnecessary jobs. While that may not be pleasant, it has the potential of further contributing to the overall team’s performance. This is because when everyone is motivated, they tend to feed off of each other. “The standards are raised, the energy level increases, teamwork improves, and there’s a low tolerance for anything less than excellence,” McCarthy writes.
Create a welcoming environment
Creating a welcoming environment for your employees is the key to keeping their motivation levels high. This encompasses both the physical and social environment of the workplace. “Building this kind of atmosphere is dual — you need a physical space that is appealing, comfortable and favorable to work, and a working relationship with your team that promotes voluntary excellence,” says Aj Agrawal, a business advisor, in an August 2016 article for Entrepreneur.com. “Make sure that you do what you can to create a cool space and collaborative work environment and your team will want to work harder for you.”
Beavers recommends giving employees access to an enjoyable break room, a place where they can escape and enjoy spending time when work is too challenging. “You need to create a space where your team can undertake activities that will momentarily take their mind off the stresses associated with their job tasks,” she writes. “Consider creating an area where employees can play games in groups of two or more that require some form of physical activity, such as table tennis.”
Helping your employees feel connected to each other — and not just to the business — will also go a long way toward increasing their motivation. Team-building activities that break the routine, such as eating lunch together or getting out of the office to do something fun or charitable, will not only make them feel excited about their part on the team but also help them develop better communication skills.
While motivation ultimately comes from within, your employees are more likely to motivate themselves when you create a motivating workplace environment for them.