10 Handy Tips for Motivating your Workforce

Amy Harris's picture

As my colleagues at Expert Market HQ (shown "working hard" in the above picture), job satisfaction can go a long way to improving your team's moral and overall productivity. Finding how to motivate people can be a tricky business but the rewards can make a huge difference to your business in a short space of time.

Motivating Employees

Motivated employees have high levels of job satisfaction and are typically the most productive members of staff in any organisation. Additionally, motivated employees have higher attendance at work, produce work of a higher quality, are more likely to stay the extra hours to finish a task and stay in their jobs for longer. All of this can have a significant impact on the profitability of your company.

To ensure your workforce is as motivated as possible, you will need to have a number of different strategies in place as HR experts have discovered that motivation depends on a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors relate to those driven by enjoyment of the task itself, whereas extrinsic factors are ones where people perform well on an activity to get a reward. Simply paying staff well is not always enough to motivate them and there are a number of tricks to achieving maximum motivation levels in your workforce.

1. Pay

Whilst it is not the only motivating factor, setting the right levels of pay has a big effect on how employees feel about their work. A good way to set up a pay system that staff are happy with is to benchmark yourself against other companies and agree the structure with workers' representatives.

Remember many people are incentivised by bonuses, so a scheme that rewards based on sales, reaching customer service targets or some other appropriate performance indicator can be highly motivating for many staff. Any bonus system must be understood by all staff and be completely transparent. Remember too that rewards do not always have to come in the form of cash. Your staff may prefer something such as health insurance, company cars, or share options.

Piggy Bank

Make sure you know what form of remuneration works for your workforce.

2. Training

It's very important for your employees to keep learning new skills, and by investing in them in this way they will feel they are valued by the company. This can take the form of sending staff on courses or running seminars, but it may be as simple as giving a person a chance to work on a particular project which will help them develop their skills. The key here is to set aside time for members of staff to discuss with their manager what skills they want to acquire, and how this can be achieved. This need not be too costly as if you send one member of staff on a course he or she can train the rest of your employees when they return.

3. Flexibility

As technology changes how we can work, employees are increasingly interested in working flexibly. Of course, this may not be possible for every member of staff, but popular options you may be able to offer include flexitime, working from home or compressed hours.

Other popular options include term time hours, or the ability to buy extra holidays, usually between five and ten days, each year. These schemes are particularly popular for people with family care commitments and can have a significant impact on reducing staff turnover. Before beginning these schemes, a period of consultation with staff will be the best way of finding out what sort of flexibility your workforce is interested in.

4. Understand Your Employee's Personality

What motivates one member of staff will not motivate another. Some people thrive under a bonus culture, or public recognition, whereas others prefer a quiet thank you for recognition of a job well done. To effectively motivate any workforce you must know your people and value their differences as everyone brings different strengths to your organisation. There are a number of books written on this subject by psychologists such as Maslow and Herzberg. Reading around their theories, which are also widely available online, can help you get a much better understanding of your employees personality and how this influences their motivation.

5. Showing Respect

One of the biggest complaints of any group of employees is often that they don't feel trusted or listened to by their employers. There are a number of ways you can demonstrate respect for your staff by setting up ways for employees to share their ideas with you, either through scheduled staff liaison meetings, or by having a dedicated email account for staff suggestions. Also, delegating tasks to staff helps them feel trusted and will often stimulate innovation.


Find the missing pieces to create the perfect working environment

6. Team Building

Staff who have a good relationship with their colleagues are often much more motivated than those who are not as it makes their job much more enjoyable. You can build team spirit in a number of ways including social events such as quiz evenings or occasional away days. Setting up a staff social committee to plan the events is often a useful way to get an idea of those which everyone is interested in. If you can afford to cover the costs of these events yourself, you will be likely to get a higher turnout - which may prove to be a wise investment.

After a project, allow teams time together to reflect on what went well and how things could be improved for next time. Make sure everyone on the team gets to have their opinion heard, regardless of their position in the company, as it is vital for a successful team dynamic for every member to feel valued.

7. A Supportive Culture

In every business, there will be times when members of staff are struggling to carry out their role appropriately. Setting up a supportive culture demonstrates to your staff that you are concerned with helping people. It also creates a climate where people are open about asking for help.

You can create a supportive culture in your business through mentoring schemes, creating timely support action plans for people who need it and getting people to spend time with high performing employees so they can learn some of their tricks. When setting action plan goals, always make sure they are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely, otherwise they will not be effective.

8. Communication

Feeling part of the business and understanding its objectives is very important for many employees as people do not like feeling out of the loop. This can easily be achieved in a number of ways, such as having a weekly staff meeting, employee newsletters or weekly roundup emails. It's best not to rely on the last two alone as they can seem a little impersonal if they are your only means of communication, so remember to set some time aside at regular intervals to meet with staff or their representatives too.

Red Telephone

Good communication is key to motivating any productive work force

9. Praise

Often in companies' leadership teams, people forget how important it is to praise people and the only conversations they have are negative ones where people's shortcomings are focused on. Naturally this is very demotivating for the workforce. Ask your managers to set themselves a target of only saying positive things for a day and they will soon realise how rarely they do it. After that they may want to give themselves a target of saying two positive things for each negative point they make, to create a motivational atmosphere. Linked to this, when a team has been successful, remember to say thank you to every person involved.

10. Remember People's Home Life

Even the smallest things can increase an employee's motivation such as sending a birthday card, a gift when people get married, or allowing compassionate leave. Remember also to be approachable and accommodating when they are suffering from problems outside their work which affect their performance.

Even something as small as letting people leave early to watch the World Cup final can have a really positive effect on your staff. The key to this is simply to remember that treating people as individuals and valuing them can make a huge difference to how they feel about their job.

Is Motivation Always the Answer?

If you employ all of these ten tips across your company, then you will generally end up with a well motivated workforce. Of course, however hard you try, some people will not be motivated as, very often, they would rather be doing a different job. In these cases, it may be best to recognise there is nothing you can do and encourage them to try something new.

I'm curious to hear what you, avid reader, thinks of this and whether there's always a way to motivate an employee and when do you both agree to call it a day and dust off the P45?

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