Sep 252017

Motivated employees are the driving force behind every successful company. When employees are motivated, they’ll work harder and more efficiently to help the company meet its goals. On the other hand, an unmotivated workforce has the opposite effect by creating a lack of engagement and lower productivity levels.

According to a Gallup poll, only 21% of employees strongly agree that they are motivated to perform outstanding work. Statistics such as this reveal the disconnect between employers and their employees. Motivation begins with upper-level management, however. When employers and managers encourage and engage their workforce, it has a positive impact on employee performance.

The following employee motivation strategies can improve worker satisfaction and productivity in the office.

Say Thanks

Sometimes all it takes is a brief “thanks for the hard work” to motivate employees. According to a study conducted by Reward Gateway, 70% of employees believe they would be motivated to work harder if management told them thanks more often. It’s an effective, low-cost strategy to motivate employees in the office.

Of course, employers are often busy with their own work, so they tend to overlook non-essential tasks like telling employees thanks. However, you can simplify the process by creating personalized handwritten thank-you notes ahead of time. Don’t just give employees the same generic note, but rather include a personal note praising them for their work ethics. Personalized thank-you notes such as this will have a stronger impact on employees, encouraging them to go the extra mile.

Celebrate Personal Milestones of Employees

What does this mean exactly? Well, even if you currently celebrate your company’s own milestones – years in business, sales records, customer satisfaction, etc. – you should also celebrate the personal milestones of your employees. Similar to giving employees a personalized note, this shows you care about them on a personal level and not just a professional level.

For instance, you can motivate your workforce by celebrating employee birthdays in the office. Assuming you still have their applications on file, you should already know your employees’ birthdays. Instead of just conducting business as usual on these days, take a few minutes to announce this personal milestone and wish them a happy birthday.

In addition to birthdays, other employee milestones to consider celebrating include the following:

  • Employment anniversaries (years spent with company)
  • Marriages
  • Birth of a child
  • Retirement

You don’t have to necessarily throw a full-blown party for these personal milestones, as this can be counterproductive when it forces your entire office to stop working for half an hour (or longer). A better approach is to simply take a few minutes to announce the employee’s milestone while also expressing your gratitude for their hard work.

Offer Informal Feedback

According to a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review, 72% of employees said their performance would improve if upper-level management would give them feedback. Many companies already provide feedback in the form of performance reviews. This “formal” feedback, however, lacks the motivational power of more personal, informal feedback.

When offering feedback to employees, there are a few things to keep in mind. For starters, you should stick to face-to-face meetings between you and the other employee. The personal nature of a face-to-face meeting eases the employee’s stress and anxiety while also allowing him or her to better absorb the feedback.

Secondly, focus on the positive elements of the employee’s performance. You can still tell them how to improve in certain areas, but you should keep the conversation positive and uplifting; otherwise, it’s not going to serve as an effective motivator. Maybe the employee has outsold his or her colleagues, or perhaps they’ve pioneered a more efficient technique. Discussing positive elements of an employee’s performance such as this encourages them to keep it up.

Feedback should be a two-way street, however. So, ask employees how they feel about their jobs, including what they like and what can be improved.

Casual Friday

Casual Friday AttireThere’s nothing wrong with using a formal dress code in the office, though employers should consider a “dress-down” day for at least one day of the week. Instead of wearing a suit or other formal attire on this day, for instance, workers can wear casual clothes like a t-shirt and denim jeans on this dress-down day. Not only does this increase employee satisfaction, but it could motivate employees to work harder.

According to a survey cited by TrainingZone, 70% of employers believe dress-down days have a positive impact on employee performance, and roughly half believe that strict formal dress codes have a negative impact on employee performance.

Dress-down days such as this are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace. According to a separate survey conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management, 62% of companies allow workers to dress casually once a week. So, if you’re looking to motivate your employees, try jumping on the bandwagon by embracing a dress-down day such as casual Friday. It’s a simple yet meaningful way form of appreciation that speaks volume about your company.

Invest in New Office Furniture

Mayline Office FurnitureYou might be surprised to learn that buying new office furniture can motivate employees. Forcing employees to sit in uncomfortable chairs and use poorly designed desks for six or more hours a day can leave them feeling dissatisfied. And when employees are dissatisfied, they aren’t going to push themselves on the job.

To prevent this from happening in your workplace, upgrade to newer, higher quality office furniture. Replacing cheap plastic chairs with ergonomically designed office chairs, for instance, is guaranteed to have a positive impact on employee satisfaction and subsequent performance. Instead of leaving the office with an aching back, employees will feel healthier and less fatigued – all for the small investment of buying new chairs.

Define Your Company’s Mission

When employees don’t understand their company’s goals, they’ll feel less driven to help it succeed. Therefore, it’s important to clearly define your company’s mission.

As explained in this Forbes article, motivation begins with defining the company’s vision, mission and strategy. Employers should create a shared mission in which workers can participate. The general idea behind this strategy is to make employees feel like they are part of a team, with the goal of accomplishing something bigger. This in turn motivates them to put their best foot forward; thus, promoting higher productivity levels in the workplace.

When using this strategy to motivate your workforce, consider displaying your company’s mission in a visible, easy-to-see location somewhere in your office. You can display it on a whiteboard in the break room, for instance, or you can design a large poster to hang on the wall. If workers see it daily, they’ll be reminded of your company’s mission, which should motivate them to work harder.

Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Held annually on the first Friday of March, Employee Appreciation Day offers the perfect opportunity for employers to express gratitude for their employees’ hard work, devotion and dedication. As the name suggests, this day is all about showing appreciation to your employees. Employee Appreciation Day is like Boss’s Day (October 16), though it focuses on employees instead of employers.

When the first Friday of March rolls around, consider throwing a small party for your employees. You can schedule a 20 to 30-minute office party to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day, during which employees can enjoy food and beverages while conversing amongst themselves. Of course, you can also use this time to recognize employees for their hard work by announcing their names and accomplishments

With that said, you should integrate employee appreciation into your company’s culture rather than just a once-a-year occurrence. Failure to appreciate your employees the other 364 days will only hurt your efforts to create a motivated, productive workforce.

Performance-Based Rewards

Virtually any type of reward will motivate employees to work harder, but performance-based rewards are particularly effective for this purpose. Basically, this involves rewarding employees based on their performance. The most common performance-based reward used by companies is a pay bonus in which employees receive additional pay that’s not part of their regular salary or wages for their work.

For data-entry jobs, for instance, an employer may provide a tiered bonus pay for employees who are able to type more than 10,000 keystrokes per hour. Employees who type between 10,000 and 11,000 keystrokes per hour may receive a $200 bonus, while employees who type 11,000 to 12,000 keystrokes per hour receive a $400 bonus. The higher the performance, the better the reward.

Another type of performance-based reward is profit sharing. With profit sharing, however, rewards are based on the performance of the company as a whole instead of individual employees. When the company succeeds in generating higher profits, some of those profits are shared with employees.

Performance-based rewards such pay bonuses and profit sharing encourage employees to work harder by giving them an inventive to do so.

Encourage Creativity

Encouraging creativity in the office can have a positive impact on employee performance. When employees are given the freedom to express their own thoughts and ideas as opposed to performing linear tasks, they’ll feel a newfound drive to succeed.

Take Google, for example. The world’s largest search engine embraces a corporate culture in which employees can spend 20% of their time working on creative projects. When employees aren’t working on specific, delegated tasks, they are free to work on their ideas, assuming it takes up no more than 20% of their total work time. As explained by VentureBeat, this led to the creation of some of Google’s most successful products, including its online advertising and revenue-sharing program AdSense.

Google isn’t the only company that encourages creativity in the workplace. LinkedIn has an InCubator program, which allows employees to work on their own product ideas; Microsoft has The Garage where employees can turn their product ideas into a reality using Microsoft’s tools; and even Apple has a creativity program where employees can work on their own projects. By following a similar format with your company’s culture, you’ll motivate employees to go above and beyond in their respective work.

Employee Recognition Program

Finally, implementing an employee recognition program in your office can motivate employees to work harder. In the most basic sense, an employee recognition program is designed to acknowledge employees for their work.

Far too many employers turn a blind eye to their employees’ performance, only discussing negative elements of an employee’s performance. As a result, there’s no real incentive for employees to push themselves, other than getting yelled at by their employer. But if you recognize employees for their positive accomplishments, it will encourage them and others to keep up the work. This is the fundamental reason why recognition programs are such an effective motivator in the workplace.

One of the most forms of employee recognition is an employee-of-the-month program. With this type of program, a single employee is recognized for his or her outstanding work ethics every month. Different companies have their own criteria for choosing an employee of the month, though most use multiple factors like performance, attendance and quality of work. Once a month, a single employee is selected using this criteria and named employee of the month.

When using an employee recognition program, be sure to reward the chosen employee with some type of incentive. After all, you want the employee to feel like he or she is being rewarded for their efforts; otherwise, a recognition program isn’t going to motivate them.

Here are some reward ideas for an employee recognition program:

  • Pay bonus
  • Personalized plaque or trophy
  • Gift card
  • Company-branded t-shirt
  • Free lunch or dinner
  • Massage or spa day
  • Double break time (e.g. 30-minute break instead of standard 15 minutes)
  • Coveted front-row parking spot for a month
  • Free gym or health club membership
  • Charitable donation in the employee’s name
  • Name placement on the “wall of fame”
  • Work from home for a day
  • Allow employee to bring their dog to work for a day

Following these strategies will motivate office workers to work harder and more efficiently. Most importantly, though, communicate with your employees and acknowledge their professional achievements.