How to Motivate Your Employees

Even though the economy is allegedly picking back up, in this day and age you have either gone through—or know someone who’s gone through—a series of company layoffs. Worrying about your own impending layoff is bad enough, but when a fellow coworker is let go, it can create an anxiety-inducing environment for the remaining employees. So whether your company is going through the dreaded layoffs or there is just a problem with company morale, you should take these steps to motivate your employees effectively.

Money Talks

Of course, the No. 1 way to boost your employees’ morale is to offer them a bonus. You can incentivize specific tasks for your workers to make sure they still work hard, or you can offer to reduce some of their insurance costs. Don’t ignore the fact that money talks, and it talks loudly.

However, if spending a ton of extra money on your employees isn’t an option (we are still in hard times, after all), you can learn more about motivating your employees in other ways below.

Set a Good Example

You should always lead by example because your attitude is contagious. If you’re optimistic, chances are your team is more likely to be optimistic too. Also, make sure that everything you preach to your employees, you follow. Granted you are the boss, so it’s not as important for you to be at the office at 9 a.m. on the dot, but make sure you put in a lot of face time at the office. No one is going to feel good working for you if you’re off playing ball every afternoon while they’re diligently working.

Invest in Employee Growth

If you do have a little bit of funds available, it would mean a lot for your employees to know that you want to invest in their growth. Research some continuing education classes or certifications for them. Not only does it show them that you believe in them but also that you want them to stick around your company for a long time. That sense of stability can go a long way in a time of upheaval.

Encourage Workers to Voice Concerns

It can make an employee feel stifled when he/she isn’t able to express concerns for the work environment. A friend of mine was telling me how her company is going through several layoffs, and, while she was safe, the morale of the company was in the toilets. Something her bosses did that made her feel better was to allow the employees write lists of suggestions for the company to improve. Not only was she able to get things off her chest in a productive and safe way, but she also felt like she was being heard.

You don’t have to go to such extreme measures to allow employees the space to voice concerns. Let them know your door is always open and that they are safe to discuss complaints with you. You don’t want your employees to worry about losing their jobs because of airing concerns. Make sure you truly listen to what they have to say, and then do your best to help fix the problems.

Allow Employees to Share in Company’s Success

Your employees should want to feel invested in the success of the company. Consider starting a profit sharing plan, which would allow your employees to gain a sense of satisfaction and desire to work harder knowing that they directly contribute to the dollars in their pocket. Eighty percent of businesses surveyed by WorldatWork reported having some sort of incentive or bonus program in 2009. Learn more about implementing a profit sharing plan through this helpful Inc. article.

Allow for Flexible Schedules

If your company allows for it, try out flexible scheduling. Another friend of mine had her bosses give the company half days on Fridays during the summer by merely adding an extra hour Monday through Thursday. This way they were able to take advantage of the beautiful summer weather by hanging by the pool or spend more time with their kids.

A lot of moms have trouble picking their kids up from school, so some companies allow employees to work part-time on some days in order to maximize family time. You can read about how a flexible schedule program worked for the accounting firm KPMG in this New York Times article.

Another great way to allow for flexible scheduling is to let employees dictate start and end times—within reason. Let your employees choose between an 8am or 9am start time, for example.

Small Improvements

In addition to these ideas, there are also several small ways you can motivate your employees.

  • Eat lunch with them. Lunchtime is where coworkers bond with each other. If you take time out of your day to visit with them in a friendly way, the effort won’t go unnoticed. Also, if you’re brown bagging your lunch, they won’t be disgruntled about your fancy schmancy client meals. Make sure to rotate who you eat lunch with so that you’re not starting a clique.
  • Get creative with perks. Buy office snacks. Take an afternoon off and go to an arcade. Offer car wash services. Have casual Fridays. Whatever you think you might like, your employees will definitely love. One company had managers clean the snow off the windshields of other staff members. It was just a small, fun thing for its employees to participate in.
  • Give compliments, both individually and publicly. Make sure your employees know that you appreciate the work that they do. If someone does a great job, recognize them in front of the group, but don’t single out the same person every time. You want all of your employees feeling good about their job performances.
  • Be cordial. How would you feel if your boss didn’t say “good morning” to you or didn’t even know how to pronounce your name? Make sure you treat your employees as you want to be treated. Be friendly, kind, and courteous. It really goes a long way.

Now that you’re on your way to boosting company morale, learn more about ways to boost your company’s productivity with helpful small business tools such as online fax, email marketing services and virtual PBX.

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