As an HR professional or business director, the aim to improve employee motivation can be a lot like improving your golf score, losing a few centimetres or perfecting the singular South African art of the braaibroodjie - even if things are looking good as it is, there is always some room for improvement.
Here are a few changes you can make at your place of business to improve employee motivation from the inside out.
Let's get started:
1. Make your office a happy space
Whether your office is a concrete space with tables, chairs, projectors and water coolers, or a digital space that utilises Zoom, Slack and other co-working platforms to get the job done, one thing is for sure - it has a vibe. If you want to lay the groundwork for increased productivity, it's imperative that this vibe is as positive as possible.
Naturally, there will be variables that change from one day to the next, but as a director or HR professional, part of your focus should be to keep tabs on the vibe, and identify certain issues that might be influencing it negatively (e.g. frustration due to a lag in communication, a lack of adequate tools, malicious gossip, or something as basic as poor ventilation).
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2. Be the kind of manager you'd want
There's a saying that goes 'employees don't leave jobs, they leave managers'. Try to be the kind of manager you'd want as your supervisor. Start simple by focusing on the basics like respect, honesty and clear communication. Often, the way you say something is much more important than what you're saying, especially at times of added pressure or uncertainty. Dial up the empathy and understanding when the going is rough and cultivate an open-door policy that invites employees to be open about their challenges and need for added support.
3. Recognise and reward good work
When employees feel that their effort and input is recognised they are naturally more motivated at work. Establish a focused way of rewarding good work by tailoring an employee recognition program that suits your business goals. An ad hoc reward here and there may lead to a welcome spike in motivation, but if you want to enjoy a sustained increase in productivity in line with your overall business objectives, a formalised system of recognition is a much better bet.
4. Provide room for growth
A key motivating factor for employee engagement is the ability to grow within an enterprise. When your team knows there is room for growth, they are far more likely to shift from the 'this is a job' mindset to 'I am building a career mindset', which taps into that coveted well of internal motivation that supercharges personal development.
5. Set clear expectations
Be clear about what you want and help your employees to understand what you need by breaking it down into smaller goals that are easy to measure. This doesn't mean that you have to go into spoon-feeding mode - you could also task your employees to draw up a game plan themselves and present it to you for approval before they put it into practice.
6. Ask them what they need
Sometimes all you need to do to improve employee motivation is to ask your team what they need. At least once a month, make a point of checking in to find out if there is a way to smooth operations. You may find that your team requires a certain tool that will help them to get things done quicker and more efficiently, or that there is a need for input from a different department. Keep the lines of communication open so you can tick these boxes on the fly.
7. Promote a healthy work-life balance
Healthy, happy workers are productive workers. Inspire your employees to find a sustainable work-life balance so they can achieve their personal goals and further your business objectives without burning out. Roll out a corporate wellness program that addresses exercise, nutrition, mental wellness, etc. You can start simply by introducing a group stretch session every morning, or making a few healthy snacks (e.g. crudites and hummus, fresh fruit etc.) available at breaktime.
8. Make room for fun
In times of great pressure, it’s important to make room for fun once in a while. If your team is collaborating remotely, you could, for instance, arrange an after-hours, Zoom-based Pictionary tournament, or geek out on games like Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons. Here are a few more ideas for fun games you can play over Zoom or your preferred conference call platform.
There you have it - 8 ways in which you can improve employee motivation at your place of business at a time when everyone can do with a bit of a mental and emotional boost.
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