It goes without saying that employees are the lifeblood of a company, playing a critical role in making sure the organization stays functional and profitable. As your vital human capital, your workers staying motivated and passionate about your company's goals should be one of your top priorities.
Unfortunately, according to Gallup research, just one-third of U.S. employees feel engaged at work.
Clearly, the challenge is figuring out what motivates your people. It's not as simple as paying them more money, either. Yes, compensation is absolutely important, but so is something like recognition, which, according to a Salesforce study, is an important motivating factor. In fact, 70% of employees would work harder if they were recognized for their work.
While motivational factors have changed over the years, research tells us that many workers today agree on a number of things that drive satisfaction on the job.
1. Work-life balance
This is a big deal to today's employees. According to the 2017 World Happiness Report, work-life balance is one of the biggest predictors of happiness.
But work-life balance can mean any number of things to different people. For some, it means a flexible work schedule, allowing them to work from home on some days or set their own days off. For others, it means free access to exercise facilities. Some people may even want child care facilities in the workplace so they can bring their kids to work.
It's here where research comes in. You can read all day about how other companies managed to turn their workforce around and maximized their human capital, but basic HR will tell you that their experiences will not necessarily reflect how your employees will respond to the techniques you attempt to implement.
Before you start making grand plans to create motivated and passionately productive employees, you'll want to take a step back and assess the psychographics of your workforce. One way to do this is to send out questionnaires asking employees about their idea of work-life balance in the company and, as a finisher, how they would like to see the company aid them in creating a balance between their work and personal lives.
In some firms, first-line managers have regular one-on-one interviews with every member of their team to ask about their short-term and long-term goals for their stay in the company. This kind of personal touch is effective in that it creates the impression that management is ready to collaborate with their employees in achieving their aspirations and assures upward mobility on the corporate ladder.
2. A pleasing work environment
Grumpy bosses and uncooperative co-workers actually do make the workplace – where employees spend most of their waking hours – unbearable. Putting up with this takes a toll on an employee's wellbeing and ultimately affects their performance. The logic is simple: No one enjoys working in a toxic and stressful environment.
A positive work environment is a productive work environment. This is why, regardless of industry, you should work to develop people skills among those in management and invest in regular team-building activities that actually forge bonds between employees.
Another way to improve your bottom-up communication is to take some time throughout the day to go around and interact with your employees and get their ideas. Not only will they feel that their efforts and presence are appreciated, but you're also likely to find that your employees have some noteworthy insights.
Last but not least is the necessity of an aesthetically appealing office. Research by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and the British Council for Offices shows that 24% of people in the workforce reported that their office environment was directly tied to their job satisfaction. Meanwhile, 91% of managers believe that the office layout contributes directly to staff performance.
Effective workplace design can come in the form of proper lighting and aeration, comfortable and non-broken office chairs, established spaces for breakout discussions, and even interior plant life, which has been proven to have physiological and psychological benefits in the workplace. These not only make a workplace conducive to work, but they also give employees the impression that their wellbeing is valued – contributing further to their work lives.
3. Vision and company culture
Aiming for the moon is the spirit of entrepreneurship. There's absolutely nothing wrong with maintaining, or even scaling, your business by setting huge annual marks. As long as these are reasonable or even mildly feasible, go for it. However, you would do well to break this down into smaller goals proportionate to shorter, more immediate spans of time.
Once you've set your goal for the year, express this in terms of quarterly goals, then monthly goals, then weekly goals. This poses a number of benefits for your employees. First, smaller goals logically seem easier to accomplish even if they add up to much larger ones. The perception that the goals have been scaled down makes them seem less daunting, thus motivating employees and providing them with small but regular pumps of fulfillment. This, in turn, has the effect of pushing them to keep up the pace.
All these things come together to create a culture that encourages working together toward a singular vision and goal. As teams collaborate to reach goals, like collective sales quotas and other productivity milestones, team members can develop the qualities and spirit that enable them to get ahead – rapport, cooperation and creativity.
Preparing a full set of rewards for meeting or exceeding marks will do wonders. What you're doing is banking on the emotional satisfaction that comes with accomplishing goals by slapping on one more thing to be glad about.
Cash incentives on top of commissions are a great way to encourage outstanding work. However, employee rewards don't have to come in the form of money. Gamifying achievements by handing out badges and other tokens of accomplishment works in professional environments. Treating your team to a meal allows you to reward them and simultaneously provide them with the setting to enjoy each other's company and build rapport. For smaller or more abstract goals, even simple verbal praise and an accompanying gesture can make a much larger positive impact than you would expect.
We tend not to take career advancement as a kind of reward, but assuring your employees that every accomplishment takes them one step closer to a well-deserved pay raise or promotion breeds top-performing members in a company.
These are just a few of the many ways you can adjust your motivational strategies for your employees in 2019. The bottom line is that your strategy depends on your people, so don't be afraid to deviate from these suggestions and adapt them to your circumstances. What matters is that your company begins making smart decisions based on employee feedback.