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Last Updated on July 15, 2021

7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021

7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021
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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.[1]

A notable 48% of employees have reported issues to their HR departments since the pandemic started.[2] 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.[3] 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.

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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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

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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.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

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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.[11] 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.

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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.[12] 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

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dr. Erik Reis

Peak-Performance Leadership Consultant

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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