We're always looking for ways to inspire our employees and motivate great performance. Here are a few data-driven, science-backed ways to inspire your workforce.
Are you looking for ways to motivate and inspire your employees to greater heights? How to engage your employees is always a hotly discussed topic in HR circles, but it can be difficult to determine what employees really want and what will make a genuine difference in productivity.
Below are five tried-and-tested techniques, backed by science, to help you spur your company to greater heights.
1. Give feedback more frequently.
Millennials and Gen Zers have grown up with regular – if not instant – feedback on nearly everything they do. Though we associate instant messages with social media, this comfort with communication and frequent feedback has changed the way we operate in the business world.
As years go by, we have seen a shift away from annual performance reviews. To ensure employees are progressing with their development objectives and SMART goals, and that they are confident and happy with their workload, it's important to give feedback often. After introducing frequent, meaningful check-ins, you'll undoubtedly see an increase in work performance and employee engagement. In fact, according to Gallup, regular performance reviews can more than double employee engagement among millennials. Another survey revealed that 85 percent of employees believe frequent performance conversations with their manager would make them more confident.
These feedback sessions don't need to be long. In fact, given that they take place so regularly, they can be quite brief, but ensure they are meaningful and helpful to everyone involved.
2. Bring the outdoors indoors.
If we think about it objectively, it might seem strange that we subject ourselves to hours inside every day. We're animals, after all, and proximity to nature can have a huge impact on our morale and performance. In fact, nature can actually make us "kinder, happier and more creative" – so how do we replicate this in a sterile office environment?
Even small gestures can make a big difference. A study by the American Psychological Association found that, when exposed to plants in an office, employees showed a 15 percent boost in productivity. Offices can also open windows and let in natural fresh air, which makes our brains function more effectively and improves our concentration levels.
3. Reconsider the layout of your office.
For a long time, open-plan offices have been the norm. Those in favor of open office spaces say that they encourage communication and creativity, but recent studies suggest otherwise. One study by Gensler showed 53 percent of workers were regularly distracted or annoyed by the activity around them, which impacted their overall performance. This same study showed that 69 percent of the respondents were unhappy with the noise levels in their open-plan offices. Another study also found such offices were related to an increase in absenteeism.
For the sake of effective performance management, it might be time to rethink the traditional open-plan office. After all, human beings, though social creatures by nature, also require a degree of privacy to perform at their best.
4. Make use of modern technology.
Employees won't be able to perform at their best if they are forced to operate with outdated technology and software. Software can be used to ease communication, improve collaboration, boost employee engagement levels and track SMART goals. There are many solutions out there to suit your needs, whether it be team collaboration tools or performance management software. Paper-and-pen systems are things of the past and will only slow down your employees and your company.
5. Remember to express appreciation.
I'm sure by now you'll know that just a paycheck isn't sufficient to keep employees engaged and motivated. To perform well, they need feedback and recognition. A Harvard Business Review study found workplaces that emphasize respect and gratitude saw greater levels of productivity and performance, not to mention customer satisfaction. If you're a small or midsize company, you should know that recognition programs don't need to come at great expense. You simply need to make it clear to your employees that all of them are valued members of your team and their efforts and hard work are all appreciated.
There are, of course, a number of other techniques that can inspire great performance. For example, it could benefit your company to implement a policy of no lunch breaks at the desk. You might want to encourage regular breaks so employees have time to refresh their minds. You could also have a renewed focus on employee development to really motivate your employees to excel. Whatever you try, it's important to keep up to date with performance management trends, experiment with them and remain flexible. With this approach, you'll have no trouble retaining your best players and recruiting top performers.