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Steps to increase employee motivation
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Motivating employees in the workplace is an issue supervisors struggle with in all types of businesses. In one recent poll done by the Creative Group the results indicated that for 35% of management members surveyed, motivating employees is their biggest managerial challenge. Though there are endless ways to get employees more enthused about their workplace duties, this article will suggest a few simple methods to increase employee motivation.

1) Ask them what they want

The most crucial question that must be answered when trying to determine how to increase employee motivation is to determine what motives them. This answer will vary greatly depending on the group of individuals as a whole, and even within the group of individuals. For example, construction workers and a surgical team may have entirely different motivations to be successful in their chosen field.  One very simple way to find out what motivates your employees is to ask them. Some of the answers you might get from motivated employees include: autonomy in the workplace and control over their individual projects; opportunity for advancement; involvement in decisions that affect their work and the company as a whole; to operate as a team player. Other motivating factors might include comfort, recognition, knowledge, the need for societal worth and financial or job security.

2) Have a conversation about the issues preventing employee motivation

Often times managers will find that the number one motivator cited by employees are financial, such as raises and bonuses, and many times supervisors may not be in the position to give financial rewards. The most effective way to deal with employees seeking raises is to be honest with them. Let them know they can feel free to talk to you about their salary any time. An employer might shift the discussion from a financial focus and ask the employee what other aspect of a job might be motivating, aside from money.  The opportunity to learn a new skill? The chance to do something new and exciting? By pointing out to the employee that there are ways to get more appreciation from a job that are not fiscal, an employer might be able to catch the employee’s attention in a new way.

Many employees often feel that their opinions do not matter – nothing they can say or do will actually change anything in the grand scheme of the company policies. A good way to combat this feeling of invalidity is to meet often with employees in a setting where they can feel free to talk honestly and openly. This format gives the employees a chance to speak with one another and with you about any issues, concerns or new ideas they may have on their minds. Assure employees that they will not be punished for feelings of dissatisfaction, and that you are open to considering and implementing any practical changes they might suggest.

The most important thing for employers to do to combat a defensive, de-motivated employee is to listen to his or her concerns, and try to suggest practical, agreeable ways to improve the situation.

3) Have a clearly defined employee motivational strategy

Any motivation program you create should be shared with the employees before the management begins implementing it. Some helpful strategies to include in any employee motivation program are:

-    Letting the employees know you are operating as their partner, not as their dictator.
-    Clearly explaining and outlining what you expect from the employees in terms of productivity and behavior.
-    Explain where they can turn for support and assistance if they have a question about the job.
-    Set up a plan for monitoring the employee’s job progress.
-    Provide recognition and praise for exceptional work.
-    Stress each employee’s value in the work place
-    Endow employees with a specific sense of responsibility
-    Have clear standards for discipline in line so employees are aware beforehand what consequences they will face if an issue arises.
-    Use positive reinforcement whenever possible.

The general concepts behind this approach are listening, planning, and discussing. These three steps to increasing motivation are simple ways that all employers, regardless of industry, can approach their relationships with their employees.

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