Motivating employees is more than just a trendy human resources buzzword. You are passionate about your mission, and of course want your employees to be just as motivated as you. Now, let’s be realistic for a moment – many of your employees just don’t care about your business or organization the same way you do as a leader.
Are unmotivated employees really a problem?
Here’s a daunting stat. According to various Gallup polls dating back to the year 2000, less than 1/3 of working Americans report actually feeling engaged in their jobs. Meaning, over 2/3 of employees do not feel committed or enthusiastic about their places of employment and disconnected from the missions of their companies or organizations. Non-motivated employees are not likely to make valuable contributions to them team and don’t feel inspired to make any changes. They are probably just trying to make it to the end of the day.
So, how can you get them and keep them inspired?
1. Make a game of it. No matter how old we get, or how seasoned we are as professionals, just about everyone can get behind a meaningful competition, or feels appreciated with prizes and rewards. Find ways to reward your employees for their activities. While a paycheck is a natural reward, and you may think that should be enough to motivate – there are some small things you can do to get everyone involved.
Some companies use applications, such as Any Perk to give their employees rewards and discounts at a myriad of popular retailers like Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and Zappos.
2. Talk to them. While this may seem obvious, simplicity wins. Many employees want to hear how they are doing from their superiors. Gallup research recommends regular face-to-face time with your team.
Gallup experts explain, “engagement is highest among employees who have some of daily communication with their managers. Managers who use a combination of face-to-face, phone, and electronic communication are the most successful in engaging employees. And when employees attempt to contact their manager, engaged employees report their manager returns their calls or messages within 24 hours. These ongoing transactions explain why engaged workers are more likely to say their manager knows what projects or tasks they are working on.”
3. Set manageable, bite-size goals. Yes, big, long-term goals are critical to success. However, your team probably could benefit from smaller, chunked-out priorities. These smaller successes can keep them motivated and feeling useful.
According to Lewis Howes, a contributor at Forbes, small goals do not just mean large goals broken down – he recommends actually creating smaller goals.
Howes explains, “You need momentum, and nothing builds momentum like getting a few wins under your belt. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about thinking big and having big dreams, but I also understand the need for momentum and confidence. Accomplishing a goal is a lot better than taking a step, especially for someone who has not been in business of large goal setting and achieving.”
4. Model positivity. Your energy is critical. Having a rough day? Your employees are likely to notice. The energy you bring into work every day will wear off on the people around you. If you’re feeling pessimistic, it’s not long before you team will, too.
This requires you to take some time each day to nurture your own positive outlook. Read a motivating blog, listen to uplifting music, or sneak in an early workout – whatever it takes to get you going.
5. Clue your team into the bigger picture. It’s important to be open with your team about what is happening at a higher level. Make it clear that you are open to questions and feedback. Let your team have a say in larger decisions.
According to a recent article published in Inc. Magazine by Josh Spiro, “Workers need to have a sense of how their roles interweave with the larger goals of the company in order to take pride in the importance of their work and to do the best possible job on every project.”
In the article, he reviews the work of Peter Stark, author of Engaged! How Leaders Build Organization Where Employees Love to Come to Work, exploring the many ways successful companies motivate their teams. He quotes Stark in saying, “There’s a lot of leaders out there that take the employees, blindfold them, spin them around 10 times, and then want them to go hit the tail on the donkey and they can’t do it.”
Thus, involving employees at a higher level shows them the rationale behind their daily tasks.
6. Give individuals unique tasks and let them know that you trust them to handle them well. While motivating teams is important, it is also crucial to motivate individuals. There are certain personalities who are critically important to an organization that could get lost in a crowd. Save your big speeches for your company’s holiday dinner, and foster closer one-on-one partnerships with team members.
According to a recent survey from ProOpinion, “24 percent of responding workers felt that individual attention from their bosses keeps them motivated at work. This kind of simple solution to employee burnout and long hours can be integral to ensuring further successes down the road.”
7. Get the team together. Don’t let your team operate in their respective silos. Get them talking in regular staff meetings, where they can talk about what they are working on. You’d be shocked to know how many of your team members are unsure as to what the rest of the team is up to. Perhaps assign dates to different teams to spotlight their specific projects and goals. They’ll feel proud of their work and contribution to the team, and everyone else will hear from a different perspective. Win for all.
In the end, motivating employees and boosting morale requires a multifaceted approach of meaningful team-building, rewards and tangible encouragements, positivity and enthusiasm from the top down, proper goal setting, and individual attention.
What have you found that works?