Learning how to motivate employees is easier in theory than in reality, mainly because knowledge is useless without application. The pressures of remote work, hiring freezes, and uncertainty around a job only add to the chaos that is managing people in the workplace, and the pandemic has taken its toll on much more than company bank accounts, as team morale and employee motivation have come to a crux in the road.
HR managers are seeing a significant increase in workplace-related issues being reported since the pandemic started, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. This trend will most likely hold as companies begin to place restrictions on workplace options by demanding employees return to the office to resume standard pre-pandemic workflow.
A notable 48% of employees have reported issues to their HR departments since the pandemic started. And these statistics appear to be getting worse with new developments in COVID-19 variants, civil unrest in cities across the country, and people deciding to change careers amid turmoil within businesses.
Yet, while this may sound like we are on the brink of an economic collapse, the glass is still half full.
Because of the pandemic, the environment has seen significant advances in decreasing water and air pollution due to less travel. The US economy is still barreling through a bull market, and most of us have had greater opportunities to spend time with family due to lockdowns and social distancing measures.
As Winston Churchill said,
“Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Companies that choose to change the way they treat their employees during these dire times will see their efforts pay dividends down the road for many years to come, and motivating employees is one small piece of the puzzle towards making the workplace a place of productivity, engagement, and continuous improvement.
Profits are usually preceded by people taking action, which is why investing in your employees is one of the most vital factors in maximizing company growth.
Curious as to how to motivate your employees to success? Here are seven effective ways to motivate your employees in 2021.
1. Ask Them for Their Feedback
Something magical happens when you ask someone their opinion about a topic—they immediately feel better about themselves and you!
When people provide their perspective, it feeds their ego and changes their view of the conversation, creating a greater likability for you or the individual who asked the question. This simple strategy can leave a long-lasting positive impression, which in turn will facilitate greater trust and higher employee satisfaction over time.
Employees who feel heard have a higher probability of coming to work early or staying late to finish a project because they feel they are genuinely part of the team. Their work is no longer seen as just being a part of the job because they are now emotionally invested in individual and company-wide initiatives.
Asking questions will also facilitate higher-level cognitive processing, promote new ideas, challenge company norms, and provide a greater sense of confidence in creating solutions to problems.
2. Give Them the Freedom of Choice
Do you remember what it felt like to drive a car on your own for the first time? It felt like absolute freedom. Life was now different. Time appeared to slow down, and everything felt like it was there for you to explore.
What if you were able to make employees feel this same sort of fulfillment at work? Good news—you can!
When employees experience true freedom of choice, they can put more energy and effort into their work. They no longer feel anxious or worried about being watched. And from a neurological perspective, freedom can maximize brain power and mental processing.
Research has consistently shown how chronic stress and anxiety can negatively impact the brain, altering our ability to process information and impair working memory. It also causes us to be more error-prone, creating more work on the back end as we try to go back and fix errors.
When employees feel like they have a choice in the matter, their motivation and willingness to get work done will inherently increase.
3. Minimize Meetings for Greater Productivity
There’s a reason Jeff Bezos uses the two-pizza rule for his meetings—too many cooks in the kitchen can create unnecessary tension and slow down progress.
Even more importantly, excessive meetings can also delay the growth and creativity of problem-solving—and this isn’t just popular opinion. A study conducted by Igloo Software found out that 47% of employees think meetings are unproductive.
A Harvard Business Review survey also found that 65% of senior managers felt meetings take away from their ability to complete their work, with 71% of them feeling like meetings were an unproductive and inefficient use of time.
This time spent meeting could easily be spent working on projects or investing in building relationships between colleagues, yielding a significantly greater return on investment through team building and effective communication strategies.
Meetings sound great in theory but rarely yield the dividends needed to justify their use. And for the most part, excessive meetings can be demoralizing, especially if they’re unnecessary and wasting time. More work from meetings usually equates to less motivation to work as it piles up, regardless of an individual’s efforts.
4. Provide Resources for Continued Professional Growth and Learning
Investing in your employees is one of the best investments a company could make—especially during dire times—because it shows that you have employee’s best interests in mind. Yet, many companies worry that the time, energy, and money they invest in their employees will turn on them if they leave.
Regardless of the investment, some employees will choose to leave at some point in time. But when employees leave on good terms and feel like they could grow with a company, they instantly become walking billboards for the company they left, which can create future job referrals and opportunities for expansion.
When employees feel like the company they work for is willing to invest in them for their personal growth, those employees will be more inclined to invest their time, energy, and resources to work even harder for the company. This process creates a positive feedback cycle of productivity that can carry any company through the inevitable ups and downs.
We’ve got news for you for those who are still skeptical about making investments in employee development. Investing in employee training and development can reduce employee turnover and absenteeism over the long run, once again saving precious time and resources.
5. Engage Employees in Setting Individual and Company Goals
Peter Drucker is famous for saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” And there’s a reason for why he said it.
Goal setting can be one of the most impactful ways to increase motivation and boost productivity, and according to Latham and Locke—two of the most prominent researchers in goal-setting theory—setting goals can boost productivity by 11 to 25% when done correctly.
Once again, when employees feel as though they are a part of the conversation, they are willing to put in the extra effort when needed to complete a task, finish a job, or go above and beyond their regular line of responsibilities to be a team player.
This concept also combines individual initiatives and turns them into company-wide goals, providing a fully encompassing and heavily integrative approach to team building. When the employee and the company reach their individual goals, a sense of personal and professional fulfillment occurs, creating a shift in momentum that the business can use to propel the company into even more growth and development.
Goalsetting is no longer something you should do behind closed doors. It’s an essential part of your business plan and can help you retain top talent while creating an optimal workplace environment.
6. Let Them Know You Care
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And if they know you care, they will have no reason to look elsewhere for another job opportunity.
Caring is so much more than saying “thank you,” although this is always a great place to start. Caring about employees means genuinely listening to their feedback, providing them options and alternatives with choosing how they want to work, and allowing them to make decisions on their behalf freely.
When companies care about their employees, they don’t question why an employee needs to take time off or whether a project will get done because they trust their people. They let their employee’s outcomes and actions speak for themselves.
When companies genuinely care about their employees, employee engagement skyrockets, and employee retention is kept at bay. These factors are significant because maintaining high employee retention is a bigger problem than hiring new employees, especially with small businesses. 99.7% of the employers in the US are small businesses, so when they struggle with keeping employees happy, everyone suffers as a result of it.
Caring may not directly show up on the monthly budget or quarterly earnings reports, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have significant payoffs over the long run.
7. Give Praise In Public, Critique in Private
Have you ever felt the spine-tingling second-hand embarrassment of being in the same room as someone who was being scolded by a superior? It’s horrific and entirely preventable.
What do you think this does to individual morale? What about team morale? Do these sorts of antics facilitate taking calculated risks, challenging the status quo, or provide motivation for progress? Think again.
Influential leaders must give feedback, but the way they choose to provide input can have a ripple effect throughout the company, even if it doesn’t directly affect everyone.
One bad incident can yield significant negative consequences throughout an organization and have detrimental effects for years to come. As Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Praising employees in public provides a collective boost in team morale by creating an overall sense of security that appeals to our foundational needs. This factor is even more impactful when negative feedback and difficult conversations need to occur.
By providing an intimate setting without external or outside judgment, difficult conversations can take on a life of their own that can create growth, learning, and development. And this is the time to give feedback about performance, metrics, and must-needed changes. Not only does this facilitate trust and relationship building, but it also promotes safety and time to discuss personal and professional factors that may also be weighing in on an employee’s performance.
Trust can take years to create and minutes to shatter.
Motivation Is Just the Start
To truly move a company forward, systems need to be in place to reach goals and expectations. Opportunities like this don’t happen in a vacuum, so you’ll have to learn how to motivate employees and maximize their productivity.
Motivation is merely a stepping stone to productivity and maximizing company growth, which is why leaders and employees need to communicate their intentions with clarity and by taking action consistently. Much like one cannot acquire the benefits of physical exercise by merely thinking or speaking about it, the same holds for setting goals and having genuine intentions of change.
Your actions will always speak volumes, so be sure to stay consistent as you implement these steps. Motivation is a lot like bathing—you must do it daily to uphold your standards.
More Tips on How to Motivate Employees
- How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity
- 7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High
- How To Inspire And Motivate Your Employees
Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com
|||^||BBC: The workers pushing back on the return to the office|
|||^||Paychex: Exploring HR Issues and Expectations Amid the Pandemic|
|||^||NCBI: Environmental effects of COVID-19 pandemic and potential strategies of sustainability|
|||^||Association for Psychological Science: Asking Questions Increases Likability|
|||^||Frontiers in Human Neuroscience: On the relationship between anxiety and error monitoring: a meta-analysis and conceptual framework|
|||^||The Economic Times: 3 reasons why Jeff Bezos’s 2-pizza rule can help a company succeed|
|||^||Igloo Biggest Meeting Pet Peeves|
|||^||Harvard Business Review: Stop the Meeting Madness|
|||^||SHRM: Developing Employees|
|||^||PubMed.gov: Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation. A 35-year odyssey|
|||^||Zenefits: Research: Employee Retention a Bigger Problem Than Hiring for Small Business|
|||^||Simply Psychology: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs|