The world is ever-changing and, not surprisingly, so are employee motivation methods. Values that were once commonplace are now considered “old school” trains of thought.
How do you stay relevant and up-to-date with the latest employee success strategies? You can blindly test different methods to see what sticks or you can let research be your guiding light.
1) Set Goals
Employees try harder and do better work when they have goals to work towards.
Think back to your high school days. When your teacher assigned you a paper to write, they’d give you a minimum page count to meet. Imagine if they didn’t do this. How long would your paper be then? One page? A half page? Without a goal, you’re more likely to do just enough to skate by.
Goals also challenge your employees. According to the Korn Ferry Institute, 33% of employees are bored and looking for new jobs because of it.
To make challenging individual goals, involve your employees in setting them. Employees who are involved in setting their own goals are 3.6 times more likely to be engaged with their work. This is because your employees understand their own limitations and talents best.
Employee involvement also sets the stage for what’s expected of them at work. Employees with clear work expectations are 2.5 times more engaged with their work, but only 50% feel they clearly understand their work expectations. Goals clear up this confusion by giving employees an end result to strive for.
Company goals are important too. Connecting individual goals with your company's goals will increase individual productivity by 56%. Employees want to know that they’re making a difference in the company. If they feel they have a purpose, it’ll show in their work.
2) Give Feedback
Modern-day employees are seeking growth opportunities. They want to better themselves and learn in the process. Without feedback, it’s hard to do that.
According to Officevibe, 82% of employees appreciate feedback and 65% want more. Pair this with 58% of managers thinking they give enough feedback, and it’s obvious there is a gap here.
The best way to give your employees meaningful feedback is to give it as needed. Feedback should be an ongoing conversation. It can something as simple as, “For the most part you handled that customer well. Next time…”
When you do give feedback, it should be in the form of guidance, not micromanaging. No one wants to feel like Big Brother’s watching. Micromanaging prevents employees from using individual skills and talents, which decreases motivation. Why try if your supervisor is going to tell you it’s wrong anyway?
You also want to focus on factors your employee can control. Employees can’t control customer purchasing decisions. They can control how they interact with customers though.
Don’t forget to keep a good balance of group and individual feedback. Group feedback should focus on teamwork, while individual feedback should be tailored. If you only give group feedback, your employees will see it as someone else’s problem. If you only give individual feedback, you miss your opportunity to create a cohesive work team.
3) Encourage Employees
In a study by TINYPulse, the 3rd top employee motivator is “Feeling encouraged and recognized”.
Encouragement is great for steering your employees in the right direction without micromanaging. It also gives your employees a sense of accomplishment.
My college psychology class did an experiment that's a great example of how encouragement works. Two people were asked to leave the classroom. I and another student volunteered to leave while the class decided on a task for us to complete.
I was asked to return to the class alone. Those who had remained in the room were not allowed to tell me what the task was. The only thing they could do was clap and cheer louder as I got closer to the goal and quieter as I got farther.
I walked around half the room and stopped when the cheering was at its loudest and picked up a phone. That was the task.
The second student was asked to return to the class. This time, the class booed whenever they got further from the goal but went silent when they got closer. This student did 4-5 cycles around the room before finally picking up the phone.
The purpose of this experiment was to show us the effects of positive encouragement. With the help of positive encouragement, I completed a task faster and felt better about accomplishing it than the other student.
4) Recognize Employees
Recognition is the follow up to positive encouragement. In its simplest form, recognition is a thank you. You don’t have to award a gold medal to recognize your employees. You just have to say two powerful words.
This doesn’t mean you should thank employees for every little thing they do. That would seem ingenuine. Keep your gratitude genuine and natural.
Bonuses and raises are also forms of recognition. If you award performance with raises and/or bonuses, be sure to give the award and any feedback separately. Giving employees a monetary award along with feedback shifts self-improvement thoughts to paycheck-oriented thoughts.
5) Get Personal
If you really want to motivate your employees, you have to understand who they are and how they work. Are they competitive or do they prefer to play background roles? Are they self-motivated or do they need a little push? Is this just a job to them or is this their life?
Answering these questions is pivotal to properly motivate individual employees.
For goal setting, naturally competitive and aggressive employees benefit from ambitious goals. Conversely, employees who are more passive benefit from modest goals.
For feedback, frequency matters. Some employees think daily feedback is micromanaging. Others see it as opportunities for growth and self-improvement. Get a feel for your employees to know when to back off and when to lay it on thick. If you aren’t sure then ask.
Note which employees would be most interested in growth opportunities. Some employees want to advance within your business. Others are content with where they are. Ask employees or have an open door policy if you aren't sure who is interested in growth.
If you don’t have room for promotions, let your employees start and manage their own department. For example, if you have an employee who is interested in social media, let them manage your Facebook page.
Gratitude is like feedback when it comes to frequency. To some, frequent “thank yous” are ingenuine, but to others, it's reassurance of a job well done.
And finally, don’t feel pressured to keep work and personal lives separate. Sharing your experiences and thoughts helps creates trust between you and your employees. It also sparks a team-oriented atmosphere at your company.
What motivation techniques does you business use? Let us know about them in the comments below!