It’s a no brainer that working among colleagues who enjoy their jobs and truly value your business is a primary goal when you approach staffing decisions. Motivated employees are also key to your bottom line.
Despite a widely-cited 2012 Gallup poll that reported a surprisingly high 70% of employees bored and checked out at work, the outlook for businesses with engaged employees is significantly brighter. In fact, a Hay Group survey found that businesses with engaged employees can enjoy up to 2.5 times more revenue growth vs. competitors employing less-engaged workers. High employee engagement also boosts staff retention rates by up to 87%.
The data speaks clearly: a committed workforce isn’t just the face of your brand, it is the competitive edge that sets you apart from the pack. Implementing a set of daily and long-term company culture shifts can help you spark and then maintain employee motivation, all the way from new hires to old hands.
1. Craft a welcoming atmosphere
Aesthetic space matters in the workplace. Disorganized, technologically-backwards, or otherwise inharmonious workspaces often trickle down to distracted or disengaged employees.
If you have a break room where employees store their personal effects or relax between shifts, ensure that you offer some amenities and decorate with a bit of pizazz. None of this has to break the bank, but an adequate and private area for employees to enjoy before hitting the floor will help them approach new tasks with a refreshed attitude. The same goes for commercial kitchens or inventory storage rooms. Employees are less frustrated during work hours when they feel an organizational system is in place that makes sense and doesn’t waste their time.
Personal touches, such as a cozy armchair or a bulletin board collecting photos from past company events remind staff that their time and presence are valued, and that they contribute personally to the community of the workplace. The same thing goes with off-site company retreats or celebrations; here, employees can connect as people and learn to respect each other both on and off the floor.
2. Communicate your mission clearly
While company-wide directives have their place, transparency and moments of one-on-one connection play a big role in cultivating motivated employees. As Management Consultant Kathy Austin states, “Managers light a fire under people; leaders light a fire in people.”
Inspired employees are motivated employees. Interestingly, a study commissioned by the Society for Human Resource Management found less tangible factors such as respectful treatment of employees at all levels of the company and “trust between employees and senior management” ranked as the top two contributors to overall employee satisfaction. Participating in the overall mission of the organization and doing work that felt meaningful also scored off the charts in terms of self-reported employee engagement. These findings are backed up by research into retaining Millennial staff.
“Workers have shown an increased preference for knowing their role and where they fit into the success of the organization. HR professionals should make the goals of their organization clear to all workers,” the report goes on to say, suggesting that employers demonstrate how employee efforts achieve these goals.
Your objective? Make your vision for your company and projects clear. Explain how your employees are helping you to get there. Encourage them to collaborate and provide feedback on how your team can work together and reach the benchmarks you’ve set.
3. Emphasize flexibility and work-life balance
Smartphones allow employees round-the-clock access to work emails and ongoing projects. In return for this increased access and the ability to check in on work during their “off hours,” employees hope to be recompensed by increased flexibility when it comes to staff scheduling.
Future Workplace Research Director Dan Schawbel found that, “46 percent of employees say that flexibility is the most important aspect when looking for a new job.” The freedom to work from home or fit a school drop-off into the work day leads to greater focus while on the job itself. Employees aren’t shy about speaking up in praise of these policies, either. 86% of Forbes’ Best Companies to Work For in 2014 offer some form of flexible scheduling.
As a manager, your ability to be responsive and flexible with personnel scheduling is a big plus. Make the tracking of vacation time, shift schedules, and overtime transparent and intuitive for your staff. One option is to rely on employee scheduling software online, which puts the tools to track hours and request flex time directly in the hands of your workers. With this approach, you send the message that a worker is not merely an automaton; they are an individual balancing multiple priorities, and you honor that as an employer.
4. Acknowledge a job well-done
If an employee knocks something out of the park, don’t hesitate to tip your hat. From creating an incentive program to recognizing employees company-wide or simply dropping by someone’s desk to thank him or her in person, the value of being seen and congratulated by a supervisor pays major dividends in workplace motivation.
Feedback in general is a good thing–43% of engaged employees hear feedback at least once a week. This makes sense: workers do not want to feel as if they are toiling alone and unacknowledged. Even when they struggle with a task or new skill, a check-in from a manager or mentor reminds them that their work is valuable and an integral component to company success. If you see the connection here to clearly communicating your company mission, you’re on the right track.
Finding genuine methods of saying “We appreciate you” can be as simple as taking your employees out to lunch or greeting them with a standing ovation at your next staff meeting. These gestures are appreciated, and don’t need to be tied to compensation to be effective.
From clock-in to clock-out, the personal touch means a lot to employees and influences how much they burn the midnight oil or take the time to craft that perfect window front display. Thank your staff, inspire them with the reasons you joined this business in the first place, and create company policies that respond to their full identities–these are all fantastic ways to motivate your employees. Plus, you might just end up with some true friends in the process.