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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

8 Tactics to Greatly Improve Motivation in the Workplace

8 Tactics to Greatly Improve Motivation in the Workplace

Why is it so challenging for modern managers and business owners to inspire their employees and improve motivation in the workplace?

Far too often, modern businesses are seeing productivity losses because of an unsatisfied, unmotivated workforce that has little to no incentive to take the day’s responsibilities seriously.

For many small business owners and HR managers, a lackluster workforce that can’t find the dedication to shoot for the stars is the beginning of the end of your prosperity.

You shouldn’t sit around and let your workers wallow in sadness but should instead, take extensive steps to bolster their wellbeing and improve motivation across the office.

Here are 8 tactics to improve motivation in the workplace, and what you should avoid if you don’t want to burn your employees out.

1. Foster Mindfulness Practice Across Your Workforce

Perhaps the most effective way that small business owners and corporate managers alike can bolster their employees’ motivation is by fostering mindfulness practices in the office.

Employee stress can gradually build up over time until your workers find it impossible to focus. So taking active measures to ensure that you have a tranquil office where everyone’s wellbeing is taken into consideration is crucial to improving motivation in the workplace.

According to the Center for Disease Control, mindfulness practices are also becoming widely embraced across the American workforce precisely because they generate such impressive results. A government survey of the prevalence in mindfulness practices across the U.S. workforce discovered some shocking facts;[1] namely, mindfulness practices have seen an explosion in popularity since 2002.

Businesses that fostered mindfulness practices across their workforce saw their employees report lower levels of stress, increased rates of satisfaction with their work, and overall better mental clarity.

Business owners who are fed up with an unhappy, disgruntled workforce need to take steps to learn about mindfulness practices and champion them in your office.

2. Make Sure Your Employees Are Hydrated

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the human body is up to 60% water,[2] yet few employers stop to consider how dehydration could be crippling their workforce and severely demotivating everyone.

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Crucial parts of the body that need water the most, like the brain and eyes, will also grow weak very quickly if your workforce is dehydrated; meaning your employees will find it hard to pay attention, stare at their computers, or conduct important business meetings.

Employers who want a more motivated workforce can’t satisfy themselves with a $20 water cooler they lug into the office over the weekend. You need to be taking active measures to ensure every worker in your facility has instant access to free, pure water and other basic necessitates if you want them to remain on their A-game from 9 to 5.

Without proper hydration, your employees will see their ability to focus diminish, their level of irritation increases, and a greater amount of stress in their everyday bodily functions.

Take steps to ensure employees are hydrated (and don’t be afraid to buy water bottles with the company logo) if you want your workforce to remain motivated and moving forward.

3. Encourage Your Employees to Have Sufficient Sleep

If you haven’t yet caught on, fostering employee health and wellness is one of the only surefire ways to actually improve motivation in the workplace, especially if your current workers are struggling to get the amount of sleep they need every night.

Insomnia is a sinister issue that plagues millions of Americans every year, with countless professionals dragging their feet into the office each morning because they didn’t get enough shuteye the night before.

Rather than having your employees fall asleep face-first into their keyboards, you want to ensure your workers are getting enough sleep and not being overworked.

You should be fostering a flexible scheduling system so that overworked employees can take a break and have a fresh, eager worker fill in their shoes while they recharge.

Taking steps to ensure that your managers and other senior employees aren’t asking too much of your junior workers is also important, as overworking your team is a guaranteed way to have them coming into the office sleepy.

4. Don’t Be Afraid of Vacations

Far too many business owners shy away from the idea of vacations, let alone company-sponsored getaways, largely because they fear such initiatives are lazy and expensive. In reality, though, rewarding your workers after they’ve achieved some notable business results is an important part of keeping everybody in the office motivated and ready to keep going.

Don’t always think about rewarding success, either, as sometimes you simply need to offer your workers a vacation to ensure they don’t suffer from burnout and become a mess.

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Employers who are skeptical about vacations should look to Germany, where an economic model that champions vacations because of the productivity boost they provide has become the norm. Germans work fewer hours yet produce more than their American counterparts largely because they report being happy at work and feeling recharged when they enter the office.[3]

By giving employees plenty of time away from the office to recharge, pursue their private interests, and take care of themselves in general, German firms discovered that workers were ready and eager to get back to work and put in a greater effort than ever before.

Business owners struggling with an unmotivated workforce, more fixated on the bitcoin price than their work, would do well to ask themselves why their employees don’t feel rewarded or appreciated enough.

Financial incentives can get the gears moving at any company but having a solid vacation regime is a great way to attract the best talent around while ensuring your existing employees are happy and motivated to keep working.

5. Root out Office Bullies

Many business owners, including Franklin Hatchett of Ecomelites, pride themselves on running a clean ship and refuse to consider the idea that some of their workers may be bullies who are being cruel to other employees in the office.

Office bullies can and do spring up at any business sooner or later, so it’s important to take steps to ensure that you’re not allowing a hostile work environment to ruin your employee’s potential.

Workplace bullying can take shape in many forms; whether it’s aggressive yelling, the use of crude or discriminatory language, or even physical abuse, workplace bullying could be mentally draining your workforce of their motivation by the day.

Compassionate, authoritative managers are needed to guarantee that everyone in the office feels safe and welcomed at all times if you want to maintain a positive-minded workforce for long.

According to information compiled by Lexisnexis, as many as half of all American workers could be the victim or witness to office bullying in their careers.[4] This absurd figure demonstrates how important it is that business owners step up to rid themselves of hostile work environments that prevent their employees from achieving their full potential.

Make sure that workers have an anonymous way to tip off their manager when something has gone horribly wrong. Also, foster a clear and open culture of office communication to ensure people’s problems are brought to light before they boil over into chaos.

6. Clamp down on Employees’ Use of Social Media

One of the best ways to improve motivation in the workplace is to clamp down on worker use of social media, as modern social media platforms are proven to generate depression in those using them. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are immensely popular, so much so that some employees won’t hesitate to spend a few minutes of their day browsing their feeds instead of attending to their work responsibilities.

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If your company is struggling with a lackluster workforce incapable of drumming up the motivation needed to succeed, you may need to take steps to ensure your workers aren’t wallowing away on social media.

It’s problematic to figure out an appropriate amount of time that adults should be spending on such websites, but it’s important that your company makes it clear that no personal social media use will be tolerated during working hours.

Social media feeds make you unhappy and thereby serve to diminish workplace motivation.[5] So don’t tolerate your employees tapping away at their phones all day while they browse someone else’s user feed.

7. Help Workers Live a Healthy Lifestyle

You may think what your workers do in their free time is none of your business, but many company owners are starting to help their workers outside of the office when it comes to aiding them in living a healthier lifestyle.

By providing employees with grocery stipends for healthy foods and by enabling them to enjoy frequent exercise, companies are bolstering the physical health of their workforce, which in turn generates fantastic results for workplace motivation and health.

Those who regularly exercise and eat healthy foods will find it easier to handle mental tasks, grapple with difficult customers, and deal with the stress that naturally occurs over a long day of work.

It’s immensely hard to generate and sustain major lifestyle changes, though, as many of your employees will soon discover. That’s why it’s important that they have some company assistance when it comes to being the best person they can be; a company gym or corporate-sponsored fun runs can go a long way towards helping your workers reach new physical limits.

Business owners who are struggling in this regard should take some time to read up on the advice of medical experts. Harvard Medical School has issued some handy information to the public when it comes to the immense benefits of a healthier lifestyle,[6] so don’t think it’s a waste of time and money to invest in the long-term physical wellbeing of your workers.

Mental health and physical health go hand in hand, too, so every dollar you spend on employee diets will also help bolster their cognitive abilities.

8. Be Aware of Employees’ Grief

Employers who are worried about an unmotivated workforce should consider the way that employees’ grief could be hampering your business and their personal lives.

Everybody experiences a loss sooner or later, after all; and if you’re not there to help your workers through the tough times in their lives, they’ll never be able to recover from a tragic accident or the loss of a close friend.

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An ancient motto reminds us to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” and business owners would be wise to remember this when it comes to analyzing why some workers have been having a rough go of things lately.

Paying for therapy sessions and workplace counselling when the need arises is a good way to improve motivation in your office while simultaneously demonstrating to your employees that you have a dedicated interest in keeping them healthy and happy.

When workers feel as if management or the business owner are disengaged and unmoored from their personal wellbeing, they’ll seldom be able to summon up the motivation needed to earn you record profits or lure in new customers.

The Bottom Line

More small business owners and corporate titans alike are focusing on improving motivation in the workplace for a good reason – employees who aren’t committed to success can never help you dominate the market.

It’s important that business owners and HR officials understand that they can’t just let this knowledge swirl around in the back of their heads, but rather must take active steps to ensure that motivation is being improved across the workforce.

If you start to leave your employees behind and seldom pay attention to their needs, they’ll notice and quickly become demotivated and incapable of achieving your commercial goals.

Always have an open door policy where employees can come in and discuss their issues with managers or the business owner; and don’t be afraid to spend money on their wellbeing both inside and outside of the office.

Before long, you’ll come to realize that bolstering morale and motivation in the workplace simply takes a dedication to the wellbeing of the people who help make your business ambitions into a reality.

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Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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