One of the biggest costs in any business is the cost of labour – the amount you have to pay to have somebody perform a job. Many of the things which harm productivity and therefore bump up spending can’t even be measured. These include poor training, a dysfunctional working environment and negativity on the job.
There’s a simple, two-word answer to all of these vague problems – employee motivation. When your employees are motivated to do well at their job, you find other problems resolve themselves with little effort or interference from you. Here are five strategies for motivating employees that cost little to nothing.
Catch people doing something right – and create consequences
Some managers seem to have the impression that outstanding ingenuity and back-breaking work are simply expected of every employee. If you want to motivate them to keep going above and beyond, the most effective motivational technique is to catch them doing things right, and create a consequence for those actions. In other words, recognise and reward.
Make sure your employees know what the reward for certain actions will be. If someone saves a lot of time, give them some time off in return to motivate them to do it again. If a team has worked particularly physically hard, treat them to a massage. There are also the old standbys of bonuses based on profit, or salary increases.
Ask what they want from work, and give it to them
Obviously there is a little ‘Terms and conditions apply’ attached to this point. You won’t be able to give your employees everything they want out of work; however, you’d be surprised at how often what an employee wants and what management wants coincide.
Ask people at the beginning of every quarter-year what they would like to do in the next three months at work. They might want to take on some extra responsibilities, have more flexible working hours, be trained to take on extra duties, etc – and these motivational ‘rewards’ are often in the business interest, also.
Say ‘Thanks, you did a great job on that’ … and mean it
When you appreciate an employee’s hard work and the results gained, thank them for it. Be genuine – think of the benefit to the company and this should come naturally.
Be a shining example
If you don’t love your job, if you don’t take responsibility for your own actions and results, and if you don’t focus on productivity, you can’t expect your employees to do the same. Make the above points obvious to your employees; never moan and complain about your job, and talk to them about your own results in the course of conversation.
Broaden your view of motivation
Read the Checklist of Possible Motivators to help understand how broad the categories of motivational rewards are. You will need to find out which ones motivate employees on a case-by-case basis. This is most easily done by asking them, and getting people’s input in a team meeting.
Money isn’t necessary the sole, or even the major factor in employee satisfaction and motivation. If your employees get too little money, they will certainly feel resentful. However, past a certain baseline, other factors are usually the key to successfully motivating staff. Find out what key factors trigger your staff’s motivational levels and you may be on the way to a happier and healthier workplace.