The 11 best ways to motivate employees to be more productive

A motivated team of 6 people

What exactly is motivation? What drives a group of people to achieve a mutual goal? Your team may be the most corporate-driven group of people in the world, but you still need to find ways to motivate employees

Employee motivation adds enthusiasm and commitment to the drive that already exists in people. The techniques used to achieve this goal will help create a productive and competitive (healthily and fairly) work environment.

Supporting and investing in employee motivation not only results in better results for the company but also plays a part in helping people reach their best in terms of skills and personal goals. Empathy must exist from the employer’s side so that the motivation techniques can work. 

People with a high motivation level love going to work, see their job as an important and fulfilling part of their day, and feel inspired to achieve their personal goals and gain job satisfaction.

Keep in mind that motivating does not equal pressuring someone into burnout. In this article, we’ll explore some suggestions and ideas to motivate employees.

11 ways to motivate employees

1. Be a respectful, friendly, and empathic manager

Let’s start with the simplest tip and maybe the most way to motivate employees.

A bad manager or employer is the main reason people quit and tell others not to apply for a position in the company they just left.

Respect, communication, support, honesty, and responsibility are the foundations of leading a team and being a good manager.

There’s more to it than just being nice and respectful. A good leader, the kind that motivates people, really listens to their issues and feedback. If you’re a good person to work for, the staff will be loyal and stay motivated.

happy people having fun at the office

2. Transform the workplace into the location everyone wants to be

If you work 100% remotely, do not ignore this tip. Maybe your meetings need some help. However, we’re discussing especially the physical space.

In this post-pandemic world, most companies turned to hybrid work as a solution to cut spending and because the workers appreciated the work/life balance that avoiding commutes brought them. 

If your company belongs in this category, you might want to convince your staff to spend more days at the office than at home. Focusing on details of the workspace is even more important where your company works in the office 100% of the time.

A pleasing working space that fits the company’s aesthetics, well-lit and functional is the route to take. Make sure that you have enough workstations for the employees that are in the office on a regular basis.

Keep the equipment (they’re work tools, after all) up to date. Both the physical computer and the software need to do their job, for example, a task automation software to save time.

These worries may look like a given, but many companies don’t prioritize work conditions, which leads to demotivated workers. Keeping a clean and nice-looking space doesn’t have to be expensive if you don’t have the budget for it.

Just be creative and organized. Having food/snacks available, and offering water and other drinks, like coffee, works wonders as well.

3. Find ways to increase employee engagement

A highly motivated employee is much more likely to be engaged with their work compared to those who feel unmotivated.

How can you increase employee engagement in your team? By assuring them that their professional and personal contributions make a difference in the company’s progress.

This gives them a feeling of satisfaction, and this makes for a better, more fun work environment. One to which people want to belong and be a part of creating or transforming every day.

The staff should be involved in celebrations of milestones, and events as simple as office holidays or birthday parties work wonders.

Fun contests between workers are a fun idea to promote healthy competition. People will know each other better and create bonds, increasing engagement in the company’s daily life. Nowadays, the idea that a job is just a job and a chore is not true anymore.

a man learning at work

4. Provide training and learning opportunities

This is one of the best answers to “how to keep my employees motivated?”.

By providing specific training or learning opportunities, you’re helping your employees to improve their job performance. It’s a win-win situation: for the worker and the company.

Job enrichment potential and advancement enhance the degree of engagement and create a sense of loyalty.

Allowing learning opportunities to be pursued helps with employee retention rates since workers are motivated to remain on the job, eliminating the desire to look for work elsewhere.

Thinking about this from the perspective of the employee, a course or training prevents boredom and staleness in the workplace. Not only motivation rises, but satisfaction does too.

The employee feels like a valuable asset to the company, that is willing to invest in them. Encourage your employees to have an always-learning mentality.

Since time management is a powerful soft skill, you could provide time management training to your employees or you could choose one of the best time management courses.

5. Offer flexibility in the employees’ schedules when possible

Offering real flexibility to your workers contributes to a better work relationship and increases employee satisfaction, and supports the independence of employees. The term work flexibility should mean more than just being a nice thing to say in a LinkedIn job post. 

If the company works mostly in person, that is fine. Maybe offering the possibility of working a couple of days a week from home, or adjusting work schedules can be a good start.

This strategy can help motivate your team to perform better whenever they are in the office. Providing this possibility to employees motivates them and removes the stress from the everyday hustle.

bonus to employees

6. Provide bonuses, rewards and openly talk about salaries

This is somewhat of an obvious suggestion, but it’s one of the most effective. Monetary incentives, especially during rising inflation and living costs, encourage employees to work better.

Giving incentives, rewards, or bonuses helps to increase stimulus work, helps to improve commitment in work performance and creates zeal towards work, helps to reach maximum potential and capabilities, and to increase productivity. We’re talking about annual bonuses or monthly incentives, for example. 

A huge project might be a good opportunity to reward the team with a bonus. Even gift cards for some major stores are a good idea. Human resources can float some ideas through the employees of the company, in a questionnaire, to understand what they most value in terms of monetary rewards. Good health insurance also falls into this category.

Doing this provides both the hope of getting a reward and the psychological satisfaction of earning incentives. 

If you’re dealing with a lot of remote workers, there are several tools to help you manage remote employees that are going to be useful for this step.

7. Provide positive feedback and encourage the workers

People need positive reinforcement, especially in the workplace. Giving positive feedback to employees shows that you notice and appreciate their hard work and contribution.

Positive feedback and encouragement work wonders because words do matter when it comes to motivating someone. 

Finishing work and achieving the goal gives a feeling of satisfaction. Being recognized for it provides a feeling of motivation. This recognition should be frequent, meaningful, and, if comfortable for everyone involved, public.

a team of four people having an outdoor team building activity

8. Encourage activities outside of work responsibilities

There are other ways to motivate your team that aren’t bonuses or monetary rewards.

At the same time, promoting activities outside work is a way to bring people together. These activities bring a lot of emotional motivation, something that is also very important.

For example, activities like team building and fitness challenges, contribute to a healthy sense of competition between colleagues.

Team building days are extremely motivational. The team will spend weeks talking about what they might be doing. Most popular activities include some kind of sports, treasure hunts, exits, escape rooms, trivia contests, etc.

This point also includes providing employees with opportunities to bond outside of the workplace, even in non-team building moments.

The trust that can be built in these moments will translate back into the workplace being able to get to know your colleagues in an informal setting allows employees to establish more meaningful connections.

9. Give purpose and responsibility to roles

There are no small parts, only small actors. You probably know this famous phrase, coined by Konstantin Stanislavski, known as the “father” of modern acting.

This quote is quite simply applied to other industries. It means that every role is important, and every part has a fundamental job in making things work every single day. Every role needs equal commitment and should be valued by the people in charge in the same way.

Giving purpose to someone and their job, and motivating them by telling how their role is contributing to the growth of the company gives them confidence.

It’s important for employers to tell the staff about their accomplishments and how their role influenced the company. It makes employees more cooperative and reduces the chances of conflicts between them, contributing to a more positive and creative workspace.

Added responsibilities also work as a bonus. You’re telling your employee that they’ve been doing a great job and in recognition of that, being given more responsibilities will motivate them. 

10. Establish expectations and achievable goals

Productivity can be improved by clearly explaining to employees what is expected from their work.

Being clear in defining expectations gives the team clarity to the whole workplace and helps to improve their way of approaching their goals. That’s why is very important to set realistic goals.

Have conversations with the employees about the long-term plans the company has for them and how they can contribute to this growth with their work and dedication. Set the standards in the workplace that every employee plays an important role in. If things get more complicated, put these expectations in writing.

Now, it’s important to remember we’re all humans. Achievable goals and objectives are what support good job performance. This will contribute to keeping the productivity and motivation levels high. These goals should be challenging but not unrealistic.

Author Charles Duhigg, known for his research on productivity, habits, and work culture, explored that dividing work into a combination of big goals and S.M.A.R.T. goals is one of the most effective ways to get things done.

The big ones keep the focus on the finish line, and the S.M.A.R.T. method works like a ladder, as a group of steps one has to climb. This acronym means:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Timeline

These are the “conditions” that the task must incorporate to be successful. 

11. Communicate clearly and ask the employees what they want

To conclude our list of the best ways to motivate your employees, we have a simple tip: ask what they want/wish. Obviously, this affirmation is not made in black and white, but inside the context of each company.

People’s preferences are dynamic and change with time. For example, three years ago, remote working was not a preference. That was it if a person had to commute for four hours with no choice.

Keep the dialogue flowing, research, and keep asking them what can be done to improve their conditions of work. Professional life can also be impacted by personal issues, which can be super unpredictable.

If your workers say the same thing each time, listen, acknowledge and do your best to deliver it.

Conclusion

As you’ve seen, there are many ways to motivate your employees. ​But, creating and promoting a culture of recognition and appreciation is not only important for motivating employees but is also crucial to overall company success and growth, as well.

Don’t forget to keep and promote an open communication system with the team. A team leader is as good as the team they manage.

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