Rethink your employee motivation

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Turn your staff into an army of engaged, productive money-makers.

By Roshan Patel

Your employees are your most valuable asset, and managing them, although challenging, is critical to your business. This is especially true for small businesses where employee productivity is a serious concern. However, you cannot blame the employees alone for lower productivity. Employers, too, play a significant role in motivating their workforce to become more productive at work. After all, employee satisfaction plays a key role in boosting productivity and can impact the company’s bottom line.

Often small business owners think they lack the money or other resources required to meet their employees’ needs. But this is far from being true. Most employee motivation strategies require little or no financial investment. They are mostly a matter of simple management adjusting practices. Besides, there are strategies that need financial investment – and enhancing employee productivity usually returns the investment.

KEEP INFORMATION FREE-FLOWING
If there is any information your employees need to know to successfully perform their jobs, communicate that responsibly and effectively. Make sure they have enough information to make good decisions. Also, remember that keeping your employees in the dark won’t help you in the long run. You should therefore make your employees aware of changes being made within the organization, before it’s too late. The following are some best practices you can implement:

  • Update your employees about company information, especially if it is likely to impact their work.
  • Discuss customer feedback, changing due dates, training opportunities, product improvements, change in interaction structures or departmental reporting with employees.
  • If certain employees are particularly affected by a recent change, talk to them personally or stop by their work area to communicate more. Your goal is to make them clear about the change and what it means to the organization and to them as well.

Foster the habit of daily communication with every employee, especially those who report to you. In addition, hold one-on-one meetings with them once a week and encourage them to come prepared with troubleshooting ideas, questions, information and/or requests for support that will further help to improve productivity.

Attention from Senior Managers Motivates Employees
A study by Towers Watson called the Global Workforce Study emphasized the roles senior managers play “in attracting employee discretionary effort.” The study indicated that businesses need to maintain employee engagement over time. A few ways to do so include:

  • Communicate openly, frequently and honestly. Senior managers need to hold meetings with all employees periodically and demonstrate interest in individual employees. Small businesses should especially implement an open-door policy and encourage staff to discuss concerns, share ideas and talk freely.
  • Congratulate employees on their personal life events such as weddings, new babies, purchase of new homes or cars, inquire about vacation trips, and more to connect with them and establish one-on-one relationships.
  • Encourage growth by cross-training your employees in other roles and responsibilities. Take your staff to interesting and unusual events such as stress-management trainings, motivational seminars and workshops.

Improving Employee Productivity
There are certain factors that can help improve employee productivity. By focusing on these factors, you can not only boost efficiency but also create a highly motivated work environment.

  • Make sure all employees are aware that they are accountable for every action and decision they make. This also diminishes the practice of blaming others if things go wrong, and your employees will work more meticulously.
  • As an employer, your work is more than setting targets. You need to follow-up with staff members and make sure that progress is sufficient. If not, take interim measures to salvage a situation before it’s too late. Following up on a regular basis also helps in keeping your employees on track.
  • While it is important to follow-up on employees, micromanagement is something you must avoid. Provide direction and give assistance as required, but also trust your employees on their capability to carry out the task successfully without your interference. Giving freedom to your employees not only keeps them happy and motivated but also encourages them to perform better. Micromanagement is detrimental to achievement, and can make your employees too dependent on you for direction, making them less likely to learn to think for themselves.
  • Everyone likes to be heard, and your employees are no exception. Although it can sound appealing, don’t try to appear as ‘larger than life’ and a distant figure in front of your employees. This is especially applicable for small business owners and new entrepreneurs. You should look and act as one of them, with sincerity, so your employees can warm up to you and feel happy working for you. Make extra efforts to reach out to your staff members, if possible, even beyond the work place for better engagement.

Motivating employees is a never-ending cycle of encouraging, engaging, rewarding and recognizing your workforce. As a leader, you need to connect with your people, share words of encouragement, help them move forward in their career, and make them feel happy about working for and with you. Be innovative as well as genuine in your approach to motivate them, no matter how simple and small the gesture is.

Most importantly, value them, as there is no shortage of better opportunities out there. Your employees will take no time to start looking for greener pastures if you don’t value them enough.           ■

Roshan Patel is an AAHOA Lifetime member and president and CEO of Jai Shree Hanuman, LLC.

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