When it comes to motivating employees, many employers think the only way to do it is by offering more money. Fortunately for your bank balance, that is rarely the case. In fact, according to a recent survey by BNET, now a part of CBSMoneywatch, when asked the question: “What motivates you at work?” Most people responded with something other than money.
“The results showed that doing something meaningful is more important than money or recognition to your employees. Twenty nine percent of respondents said that doing something meaningful was the most motivating thing about work. Money motivated 25 percent, and recognition 17 percent.”
So how can you motivate employees to work better? Try these ideas:
1. Career Path Exploration
You chose your employees because they are great at what they do, but maybe they don’t want to do that forever. Helping your employees grow and expand their responsibilities through additional training opportunities can be very motivating. Let your employees explore their options and find their own path. Maybe they really enjoy their job but want to be better at it — or maybe they’d like to try something different. Job shadow opportunities and classes can be very motivational and help your employees think they’re “getting somewhere.”
2. Honor Their Personal Lives
Maybe you don’t want to know about your employees’ personal lives but honor the fact that they have one. If you know a mother has a child to pick up from school at the same time everyday and it’s not critical that she sit at her desk during that time, respect that and give her the chance to be there for her child too. If you know she’s a good employee and loves her job, she’ll love it even more if you let her come in early or work from home in the evenings so that she can do the things she needs to do for her children in the afternoon. Doing this will make her a loyal employee who values the work she does for you because you value how she divides her time.
3. Do Unto Others
This is the basic Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” How were you treated when you were an employee and not the president of the company or the owner? Was it bad? Do you wish it had been better? Was it good? Treat your employees as you wish to be treated and you will see the respect flow both ways.
4. Say Thank You
Whether you want to throw an employee recognition party or just pull someone into your office to express your gratitude, saying “thank you” is the single most important and motivating thing you can do for any employee. Write a quick note or an email. Let them know you are paying attention and appreciate the work they do. It takes less than 5 minutes and it can truly make someone’s day.
5. Hold Social Gatherings
Beyond the standard holiday party, try and hold social events for your employees. While everyone has a life outside the office, let’s face it, when you spend eight or 10 hours a day with the same people, you get to know them pretty well. It’s only natural that employees would want to hang out with each other after work. Have a volleyball tournament. Host a cookout. Go to the lake and have a campfire. Invite families. Make your work life a part of an overall “family-like” structure at work.
6. Give Time Off
Nothing is less motivating than hearing “you don’t have days left in your schedule” when you need a day off. No matter what it’s for, allow your employees to make the call when it comes to taking a day off. According to Bloomberg Businessweek:
“Highly educated employees given autonomy over their own schedules end up working harder because they want to prove who can put in the most time at the office, University of Pennsylvania professor Alexandra Michel found (PDF) after spending 12 years studying the work habits of young executives at two large investment banks. Bankers, software engineers, and lawyers—so-called knowledge-based workers—often work more than 100 hours per week to the detriment of their health, even when nothing urgent demands their attention, she says.
“When employees feel they are required to work more, it motivates them to work less. When given more power to set their own pace, young bankers choose to work longer hours, take less vacation time, and sacrifice personal needs, Michel said in a study published in the summer issue of The Sociological Quarterly. Quoting one of her study subjects, Michel wrote: “When someone left before midnight, you’d hear comments like ‘half a day today?’”
7. Face Time
Kevin Plank, the founder of Under Armour, says, “When we had fewer than 25 employees, I brought the entire team together at least once a week. We’d talk about a lot of things, including major decisions that were on the table. I listened to everyone’s opinions, and, without fail, they’d bring up things I hadn’t thought of. More important, my team members knew that they were part of the process and that their voices mattered. Employees are more motivated when they feel needed, appreciated, and valued.”
Bring employees into the room. Ask their opinions. Implement their ideas. It’s motivating to think you have some say in what goes on in your business.
8. Research and Development
Foster creativity and innovation by asking your employees to spend a percentage of each workweek exploring new things and brainstorming new ideas. Some days this might be just surfing the Internet, exploring a half-baked idea but other days could see an employee building a scale model of a new design for the whozit that might be the “next big thing.” Some days this kind of exploration might not go anywhere but other days it could mean the start of something big.
9. Don’t Micromanage
Chances are, unless they’re new to the job, your employee knows how to do the work your asking them to do. Nothing is less motivating than being supervised every step of the way — especially if it’s a task you’ve done a thousand times before. Let go. Let your employees do their work. If a mistake happens, allow your employee to take responsibility and fix it if they can. Think how much time this will free up for you too!
10. Hire “Engines.”
Kevin Plank likes to hire leaders. He calls them engines and they motivate other employees.
“At Under Armour, I call them engines, and I place them strategically around the organization. Look for people who aren’t afraid to make the big, tough, decisions — people who want pressure and responsibility. They are innately passionate and inspired, and they make other people want to work hard for them. When you find people with these characteristics, use them wisely. They’ll certainly make your job easier, especially when it comes to keeping the rest of your team motivated.”
It’s important, especially in a large organization, to have those people who can help make things work. Motivate these people by letting them know how valuable they are.
Featured photo credit: NBC via i.huffpost.com