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HUMAN RESOURCES / DEC. 17, 2016
version 5, draft 5

How to Motivate Employees to Increase Productivity

motivated workers high fiving
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Research has time and again proven that motivated employees not only work harder but also perform better. Employers who are interested in getting the best results out of their employees should actively seek to incentivize their staff. But as most bosses are busy, it often falls on the HR department to identify and implement such incentives.

According to studies, more than half of HR managers worry top performers will leave the company by the end of each year and this fear is not unjustified as millennials are constantly in search of opportunities that will allow them to grow professionally. This means that organisations who are yet to implement strategies and ways to motivate staff should understand that top talent retention is just one of the many benefits of these programs and should start figuring out ways to reward and incentivise their employees.

If you are a HR manager, it’s probably your responsibility to find ways to motivate employees, and although there’s probably a lot you can think of, it’s important to remain focused and realistic. Keeping within the company budget is essential as this is the only way to ensure that the strategies will be maintained in the long run, and appeal both to staff and management.

Implementing a Motivation Strategy

It’s important to understand that even if your boss has tasked you with coming up with ways to increase employee retention, they’ll still need a lot of convincing to get behind your suggestions. So, it’s in your best interests to carefully design your strategy so that it not only successfully motivates staff but that it also gets the green light from your boss.

Step 1: Identify Ways to Motivate Employees

The first order of business is of course to find strategies that can be applied in your workplace. You’ll find a list of different suggestions in the second part of this article, but before you skip right to those ensure that you have a few guidelines in place.

First of all, the strategy (or strategies) you choose must be applicable to your workplace. You should take into account the general attitude of the staff, as well as the willingness of the management to cooperate and get involved. So if, for example, the employees have never been competitive, implementing a strategy that will force them to compete with one another is not the way to go. Also, if the boss (or bosses) has no interest in spending time with staff there’s probably no reason to come up with strategies that require regular feedback sessions etc.

Step 2: Talk to the Accounting Department

After you’ve come up with a few suggestions, you should ensure that your organisation has the funds to implement these strategies. Some of them will need to be tailored to fit your company’s needs and budgets, but bear in mind that although implementing such a program may at first seem expensive, the truth is that it can actually reduce costs for the company. Turnover is costly and should be avoided as much as possible.

If your chosen strategy involves monetary rewards, then you need to ensure that the company can afford it and you need to come up with specific guidelines for department managers. If you are going to reward performance, for example, define the target they need to meet, etc.

Of course, you should note that millennials are more interested in perks than money so if the company can’t afford big bonuses you might want to consider a reward system that awards more days off, remote working on a part-time basis or a flexible work schedule.

Step 3: Get Your Boss Involved

Although it’s important not to push your boss too much, it’s also essential that you try to convince them to have an active role in the process.

The idea behind introducing ways to motivate employees is to create a stronger company culture, and this means building an inclusive workplace where everyone is cherished and supported. But, for this kind of environment to exist you’ll need to get management involved as well.

Getting your boss to support these suggestions will go a long way in getting employees excited to be part of this initiative as recognising employee contribution is perhaps the quintessential way to increase employee motivation. In fact, according to a study conducted in Canada, almost 60 per cent of professionals who were asked what leaders can do to increase engagement responded ‘give recognition’.

Step 4: Ask the Team for Feedback

It’s essential to keep employees in the loop about things that are going on in the company as this increases engagement and deciding which motivation strategy to implement should be no different.

Create a questionnaire with specific questions that will help you determine what the majority of the people on staff seem to consider more important and how they’d like to be rewarded and pushed to be more productive.

By conducting this mini survey, you’ll be able to come up with a more tailored version of your original plan which will also guarantee its success.

Implementing Motivational Ideas

Of course, you shouldn’t rely on a single strategy to motivate employees as to incentivise people you need a balanced approach. You need to ensure that each employee feels valued and supported, while you should also ensure that everyone feels included at all times.

#1 Weekly Goals

Most teams set yearly goals, but it begs the question whether it’s effective to assume that employees will be able to maintain their motivation throughout the year to get rewarded for their efforts. What you could do instead is set smaller goals on a weekly or monthly basis, these can be smaller components of your overall goal, and you can come up with different suggestions for teams that meet their weekly goals.

You’ll need to ask managers to design their workflow effectively so that the work can be broken into different pieces and ensure that you have a different reward for every goal they meet. So, if for example, the team has achieved a smaller goal, you can buy them breakfast in the office, whereas if it’s a bigger goal you can give them an extra day off or have their manager take them out for a celebratory dinner.

#2 Motivate Individuals

Most motivational strategies you’ll come across suggest ways with which to encourage a team as whole, but you’ll find that treating professionals on an individual basis can also yield excellent results. Making goals more personal to each professional could make them more interested in their work.

This does not mean that you should motivate the individual at the expense of the team, but rather you should seek to prompt them as part of your overall team inspiration strategy. To do this you need to get to know people on a one to one basis; you should share company goals with them and make them feel part of those goals; you could explain, for example, how they are an inseparable piece of those targets.

It’s also important to note that investing in individual’s professional growth can also help a company retain its best employees so ensure that you know about everyone’s hopes and dreams and find ways to help them accomplish those targets within the company.

#3 Prioritise Employee’s Work-Life Balance

Although perks such as free food or on-site fitness facilities can seem appealing at first, the reality is that they can only do so much to make workers more productive. So if your biggest concern is to raise productivity, then you may want to consider more innovative techniques that enhance employees’ work-life balance.

These techniques could include a flexible work schedule or an option for part-time remote working. If your boss is willing to go the extra mile, you might even want to consider offering a shorter weekday.

#4 Invest in Regular Feedback Sessions

Managers tend to confront employees for poorly done work, but this can hurt an employee’s motivation and make them less productive. So it’s essential to convince managers to meet with their team members on a regular basis to review their goals, talk about their progress and discuss any issues that may have risen.

This will also help make staff feel more supported and also improve relationships between managers and staff. Allow them to set their own schedule for these meetings based on the amount of work they have but do try and push for regular feedback sessions.

#5 Get Employees Included in the Decision Making

One of the biggest mistakes most managers and companies make is that they fail to ask for their employee’s input in the decision-making process; they see them as numbers on a spreadsheet, not valuable assets.

You’d be surprised by the amount of constructive feedback employees can provide you with so it’s important to get them involved in this process. It will also make them feel more involved which will help push them to work harder.

 

Identifying ways to motivate employees are essential to build a positive company culture that attracts and maintains top talent. Of course, to be as effective as possible, it’s not enough to simply come up with different suggestions, you also need to design a well thought out plan that will allow you to implement these strategies successfully.

Do you have any other questions on how to increase employee productivity? If you do leave us a comment in the section below!

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