Finding ways to motivate employees can be a challenge that puts some business owners off putting time and resources into this area. Since everyone has different motivations, reasons for working, and desires from their careers, it can be hard to create a unifying force - but this is also an opportunity to prove to the workforce you care about them and their needs.
To really know why employee motivation matters, and what you can do to improve it, we need to start by understanding what it is.
What Is Employee Motivation?
Employee motivation is the commitment and focus a member of staff has for the work they do on any given day, but also more broadly, their attitude in completing tasks needed by the business.
It’s very hard to measure employee motivation as an arbitrary figure or statistic, but it is an important factor to keep in mind. Some people show more emotion than others, which can make enthusiasm hard to grasp for some. Assuming an employee isn’t motivated because they don’t outwardly show it can lead to discord.
This makes productivity the most accurate measure of employee motivation, but you could miss how someone feels about their work just because they complete it well. This makes it a multifaceted and complex issue.
Why Is Motivating Employees Important For Your Business?
A motivated employee will be happier and more productive in most cases, and this is of course good for your business.
With motivated staff, each task should be tackled and completed with gusto, on time and to the standards you expect. This means more work can be done, eliminating delays and reducing the risk of other staff, teams or departments waiting around to start their tasks. This makes everyone more efficient, and has a positive impact on the organisation.
Another positive aspect is the attitude motivated employees have. They should relish the work they do, celebrate successes with each other, and help their colleagues when needed. This fosters a better atmosphere for everyone, and helps all employees do better.
What Factors Can Affect Employee Motivation?
There are a range of factors that can affect employee motivation. Some will have a bigger impact than others, and certain members of the workforce will prioritise these factors differently. Knowing which area to focus on - those that will have the biggest impact on motivating employees - can help to create an engaged workforce that drives the business forward.
Employee motivation can be affected by:
Reward and recognition
The working environment
Whether the work is fulfilling
Work out the factors that can make the biggest difference, and to whom, and the ways to motivate employees should be clear to see. By acknowledging that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, you can focus on helping each member of staff individually, showing you care about their wellbeing, subsequently earning a higher level of motivation from them.
What Are The Benefits Of Motivated Employees?
Every business wants to enjoy the benefits of motivated employees, but it may not always be clear what those benefits are. Taking the time to understand what motivated employees can bring to the table means you can easily determine the cost of implementing something and what the outcome should be.
While the benefits of motivated employees aren’t figures you can see on most graphs or sheets of data, they do have an impact on other areas of the business. Comparing aspects of the business both before and after implementing measures to motivate employees should show a marked increase in productivity, staff retention, company culture, and other metrics.
Motivating employees should increase how much they want to do the work expected of them. Engaged and interested staff should do each task quicker and more enthusiastically than employees who aren’t motivated or who are disenchanted with their role.
This means you can expect better results from the tasks being completed by motivated staff - because they have a greater desire to see themselves, the company, and their colleagues succeed. What’s more, they should be able to do more tasks because they want to excel, rather than to just do what’s necessary. This is a double boon that has an impact on revenue, profits, and growth.
Better Staff Retention
When employee motivation is high, staff retention is high too. People leave a business when they find something better. That could be a better paid job, a new challenge, or a better working environment. Motivated and engaged staff are less likely to want to move to a new job because they might not get the atmosphere or working conditions they enjoy and that allows them to thrive.
Sometimes it’s physical perks, but the team dynamics, the respect they’re given, and the opportunity to learn and develop are all ways to motivate employees. Once you know what’s behind someone’s desire to work, you can make changes to keep them invested and happy with your business.
A Positive Working Environment
As many people spend a huge amount of their time at work, no one would want to go to a place where they expect doom and gloom on a daily basis. A negative work environment can arise from many situations, but addressing it, especially the roots of the problem, shows you’re willing to make things better for your staff.
Employee motivation and work environments are closely linked. More motivated employees are likely to bring about a positive workplace, which makes it more enjoyable for everyone to turn up to work. Positive vibes can be infectious, instantly making other people feel better. Looking forward to turning up to work every day makes it easier to get stuck in with the day’s tasks, rather than dragging their feet.
Good Company Culture
Similarly to a positive working environment, employee motivation and company culture are related. Motivated staff are likely to be more positive about their job and work, while staff who are negative about what they’re doing and where they work will be less motivated.
It’s impossible to prepare for everything, and some external factors can affect how people think, feel and act, but if good support systems are in place, there’s a way to turn things around. Negativity can spread quickly, and having an employee who’s not motivated or engaged spreads discord to others can quickly have a destabilising effect. That’s why motivating employees matters, so all staff are on the same page and committed to doing the best they can.
How To Motivate Employees
When you understand what employee motivation is, and some of the benefits it can bring to your business, it should be obvious why motivating employees is something to spend time on.
Knowing how to motivate employees is another matter, however. On a broad, company level, you can look to inspire staff with the company vision and what the long-term plan is. This is a good way to motivate people, but it’s very generic and not focused on their own individual goals or aspirations.
This means you shouldn’t rely on only this approach. Look at how you can connect with people and their needs, what can be done as a group or a team, and how this can filter through the entire company. You might not need them all, but the following seven ideas can help with employee motivation, and implementing some of these strategies will have a noticeable impact.
1) Set Out Clear Goals, Targets, And Actions
Ambiguity and confusion are two of the biggest ways to lower employee motivation. If it’s not clear what staff should do, by when, and with who, it means tasks take longer to complete, and the results aren’t always what’s expected.
Whether it's at the end of a conversation, a message, or an email, summing up the main points and making action points or objectives crystal clear can ensure everyone knows what to do. This gives employees a sense of purpose and drive, making it easier to remain focused.
You can drive this home further by making it clear who will be impacted - whether it’s a colleague who can’t do their work until the task is done, or if there will be holdups to a customer, for example. This makes it not about one person, but everyone in the business.
2) Share Positive Feedback
Feedback is one of the best ways for us to learn and develop. No one should ever be immune to feedback. Whether it’s about the process used to complete the task, the tools used, or the time taken, feedback can help us to improve and be more efficient, if it’s constructive and framed in a positive way.
Handled incorrectly, this won’t help with motivating employees. In fact, it will have the opposite effect. Frame it as a conversation to improve, and seek out the staff member’s thoughts first. They will often know where they can improve, and your job will be to help them find out how and why. Make giving feedback a conversation that both sides are equally invested in.
3) Celebrate Success
While we can always improve, that doesn’t mean the results we see aren’t worth celebrating - and we should shout about them. When someone does something well or achieves an impressive result, make sure they know about it.
This is partly so they know that you have seen and acknowledged it, but it can motivate others in the team to do the same, giving them something to strive for. Across the wider business, showing how hard staff are working can foster a competitive spirit, which is a great way to motivate employees.
It doesn’t have to be record breaking, but an improvement each time, week, or month, can raise someone’s confidence and make them motivated to do more. It’s a simple act with big effects.
4) Trust Staff To Do Their Work
Micromanaging is a surefire way to negatively affect employee motivation, as it can make people feel like they aren’t trusted to do their job. It also raises questions as to what the manager does, as if they spend all their time watching staff, they aren’t doing any work themselves. This brews discontent and spreads discourse throughout a team or department.
Focus on results rather than time. If a task has a deadline, and it's met - with the work being of the right standards or results - then this shows your staff are engaged and doing their jobs. This is something to reward and encourage, rather than clamp down on.
If staff need more support, find out what you can do to help, and let them tell you. This gives them more ownership of their situation and you can guide them to a satisfactory resolution.
5) Provide Two-Way Communication
Creating open, two-way conversation ensures all staff can talk about any problems they might have, and together you can find a solution. This means you’re listening to their needs and helping them to find a solution, rather than telling them what to do or what’s best.
Two-way communication could be in the form of a messaging platform, virtual meeting, informal chat, or any other method, but setting up a way of having that communication should be something every leader does. After all, without the people working for them, the business would suffer. Make people feel valued and heard by giving them the chance to speak to you when needed, and you’ll see their motivation increase.
6) Create A Development Plan
Most employees want to advance their careers - and even the ones that are content with their roles want to learn new skills. This can be done through online training courses, and investing in people is a good way to motivate employees.
Employees may want to learn new industry-related skills, such as in marketing or finance, or they may want to train in role-specific areas, learning about new tools or processes to keep up with the latest developments. Soft skills are another option, such as improving communication with a course such as How To Communicate With Impact or The Motivation Toolkit.
Whatever you identify as a gap, a training course can make a big difference and help to boost employee motivation.
7) Be Flexible
Being flexible with staff is more important than ever. With the rise of remote and hybrid working, staff have become accustomed to working in different places and being able to fit in life events around their work. As mentioned previously, focusing on results and trusting your employees to deliver, or talk about any problems, can help you find the best solutions.
Whether it’s flexible working hours, changing the order of work being done, or fitting around different needs, a flexible approach shows you care about people and increases employee motivation.
Find The Right Ways To Motivate Employees
Whether it’s through an online training course to advance their development, or a change in working processes, there are plenty of ways to motivate employees. It’s important to take the time to understand what matters to them, as this will allow you to tailor approaches to engage them fully without making things harder for other staff. Ways of working, processes, and conditions can all make a big difference to employee motivation.
Get in touch with the team at The Hub Events and we’ll help you identify what training courses will help any member of staff in your business. This will give you the skills you’re missing while helping them advance. As a result, this will help with improving employee motivation and creating a stronger workforce for the future.