Why is it important to motivate employees?
Motivation is what drives employees to be fully engaged in their work and inspired to achieve results. When employees are motivated, they’re more likely to come to work happy, be ready to tackle new challenges and put forth their best effort. That level of engagement and energy can lead to higher productivity and a desire to find more creative solutions to your toughest problems.
In turn, motivated employees may benefit the company and themselves. Motivation can not only give employees the push to reach company goals more quickly and effectively, but also reach their own career goals, as they’ll be more likely to make the most of their opportunities at work. Increased engagement when working on projects can help them expand their skill set and make better connections with colleagues, including those in management or leadership roles. Together, a more efficient company and more engaged employees can also better meet customer and client needs, which will likely further benefit the company.
How to motivate employees
As a leader, there are a number of motivational techniques you can use to bring out the best in your employees. However, every team member will have different motivators. This means that you’ll want to figure out what these motivators are for each individual person.
Once you have a better understanding of what drives your team, use the right combination of the following tactics for the best results:
- Be transparent
- Recognize individual and team achievements
- Solicit positive and constructive feedback
- Offer a clear path to advancement
- Show gratitude
- Offer flexible scheduling
- Prioritize work-life balance
- Establish trust and autonomy
- Give employees opportunities to lead
- Be a positive force in the workplace
1. Be transparent
Transparency in the workplace can help employees feel like an important part of the organization. Provide your team with a roadmap that illustrates the company’s vision for business growth over the coming weeks, months and years. Being open about organizational objectives can motivate staff members by helping them recognize how they fit into your company’s goals. As a result, they’ll be able to directly see the impact of their hard work and how it contributes to the organization’s large-scale accomplishments. Related: How to Conduct an Employee Evaluation
2. Recognize individuals and team achievements
Many employees can be motivated simply by knowing their efforts make a real impact, but just as important — or even more important — is being recognized for their efforts. Practice recognizing the achievements of both individuals and teams.
In addition to showing appreciation for your team by recognizing them in a meeting or at a celebration, you can also reward them. Incentives can range from spot bonuses, gift cards, a personal parking spot or a team lunch paid for by you or the company.
3. Solicit positive and constructive feedback
Giving your employees a voice lets them know their opinions and suggestions matter. The more team members can openly share their honest thoughts, the more they might feel like an important element of the team.
Regularly ask employees to provide both positive and constructive feedback. Encourage them to share how they feel about the development process for the last project or what they think of the company culture. When they do speak up, listen closely and respond thoughtfully. Make sure to thank the employee for sharing their thoughts, even if the feedback was negative.
4. Offer a clear path to advancement
Providing a clear career path is another way to motivate employees. If they know what opportunities are available if they excel in their current roles, they could be more inclined to focus on areas of improvement and continue with best practices that make them successful. Schedule time with each of your team members to learn about their individual goals and how they’d like to grow with the company. Then, pinpoint ways that will help them be successful in their current role and develop the right skills to be able to advance into the next. Related: How to Reduce Employee Turnover
5. Show gratitude
Constructive feedback is important in building a strong team, but sometimes team members simply need to see that you’re grateful for them and what they do. Occasionally, pull your employees aside and thank them for their efforts, whether it’s about completing the latest project ahead of schedule or staying late to meet a deadline. Actions like this can help them feel appreciated, empowered and motivated to continue working hard.
6. Offer flexible scheduling
Scheduling flexibility can be a big motivational driver for employees. A few ways to give more flex to your staff include offering flexible daily working hours (e.g., arrive to work early and leave early), compressed workweeks or remote work opportunities. While still maintaining a high standard of participation and timeliness, it is possible to be accommodating of special events in your employees’ lives or of circumstances that may require staff to have a different schedule than their colleagues.
7. Prioritize work-life balance
In addition to offering flexible scheduling, you can prioritize a healthy work-life balance to help your employees have the energy to work hard. Encourage your team to be productive and reach goals while in the workplace, but also accommodate those who would benefit from a vacation or day off to recover their mental or emotional strength. You can also show your team you care about their life outside of work by scheduling weekly wellness activities such as guided meditations or free massages.
8. Establish trust and autonomy
When your team feels you trust them to effectively fulfill their responsibilities, they’re more likely to be motivated to work hard on tasks. One way to establish such trust is to give your employees the autonomy to experiment and pursue their ideas without constant supervision. This autonomy can not only encourage creativity but also indicates you trust them to produce unique and effective solutions.
9. Give employees opportunities to lead
Leadership opportunities give employees additional responsibilities that can motivate them to work at a higher standard to succeed in their role and reach their career advancement goals. Provide these opportunities by changing who leads the team on a certain project or by rotating who leads a weekly training on a new skill or concept.
10. Be a positive force in the workplace
Your attitude has a big impact on your team. When you maintain positivity even in the face of adversity, your team is more likely to feel motivated to continue. If you allow yourself to become negative, your team may believe goals are impossible to achieve and lose the motivation to try. When you’re struggling to maintain positivity, talk about your concerns with your own manager or a trusted mentor rather than your team. You can also look for support outside your company by working with a professional coach or counselor who specializes in workplace issues.
Frequently asked questions about motivating employees
What is internal vs. external motivation?
When determining how best to motivate employees, consider both internal and external factors. Internal motivators, such as a competitive spirit or a desire for self-improvement, come from within a person. External motivators, such as deadlines for completing a project and praise from a supervisor, come from outside a person. While you can’t give someone internal motivation, you can create conditions to cultivate it by maintaining workplace morale and supporting a work-life balance. After all, employees may have difficulty tapping into their internal drives if they’re burnt out, stressed or unhappy.
What skills are beneficial when motivating employees?
As a supervisor or manager, strengthening certain skills can aid in motivating employees. Active listening skills are important for helping team members feel heard and gaining insights about their goals, thoughts and feelings. Observation skills are important for spotting signs of poor morale in your team, as is the ability to empathize with others. Problem-solving skills can be beneficial in developing plans to address workplace issues that may be demotivating employees.
What are the components of motivation?
There are three components of motivation: activation, persistence and intensity. Activation is when a person decides to do something. As a manager, you can activate a person’s motivation by giving them a new responsibility, a task to complete or a goal to work toward. The next component is persistence, continuing to carry out an action in the face of obstacles. You can encourage persistence in employees by helping them talk through problems, reassuring them when they face setbacks and asking how you can best support them. The final component, intensity, is the mental and physical energy used to pursue a goal. Praise can be a powerful way to encourage intensity.