Motivation is a strange beast. It can evaporate at will, with productivity never far behind. There are plenty of reasons why motivation might disappear, which can make remedying it extremely difficult. One thing’s for sure is that if your workforce feels unmotivated and underappreciated, it can translate into lost revenue.
That’s why it’s essential to keep your workforce motivated and engaged with their jobs. If employees toil away with no recognition or reward, why would they ever do more than the minimum amount of work? When you start up a company, one of the biggest success factors is who you employ. Once you bring in people who fit with your vision, you can devise schemes and programmes that will ensure that your workers stay motivated
Find what motivates your Workforce
This one’s easy, right? Money. Actually, nope. Although, in theory, more money equals more hard work it’s simply not the case. This is proven by the increasing focus on secondary benefits and work-life balance.
Here’s why money isn’t the answer:
- A person does not remember cash as anything “special” in the long run. Once it’s in the bank, money is money and has no abiding attachment or memory to the workplace. Most of it goes towards paying for the rent, being spent on food, buying treats for the kids etc.
- The incentive of cash can become the sole motivator for work, so employees don’t expect or look for gratitude or a sense of satisfaction from a job well done.
- The result is the feeling that work is just about “chasing money”. Clock-watching and alienation from fellow employees become the norm, and people can no longer make out their genuine contributions to the business.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to motivation – different people are motivated by different things, like vouchers, free meals or flexible hours. Most people will have a mixture of factors that motivate them…hopefully most of them will find satisfaction in something as simple as you expressing your gratitude for their hard work.
Make motivation part of work processes
Most people thrive on being tested in a challenging, but fair, way. It’s through moving out of their comfort zone that people learn new skills and experience a buzz of achievement. Setting people difficult tasks results in a feeling of triumph when they complete them; in this way, hard work can (literally) become its own reward. Of course, it’s tough to strike a balance – being radically underused can lead to stagnation and detachment, but setting people too many tasks that they can’t complete can make them feel down on themselves. A great manager works to asses what workers’ strengths are and set them tasks that will let them use them.
Allowing workers to find solutions to their own problems can also be a great way to inspire, as it allows for creative, lateral thinking. When people are free to exercise themselves in this way, it creates a dynamic atmosphere in which people feel that they can thrive. “Management” all too often boils down to telling someone what to do and how to do it, with deviation being seen as unnecessary and undesirable. Also key to forging good relationships with your staff?
If you are comfortable talking to your staff, then they will be comfortable talking to you.
If management don’t know how to talk to their workforce, little can be done to avoid a drop in motivation when/if it comes. If you feel uncomfortable talking to team members or struggle to make yourself an authority figure, it’s worth investing time and money in management courses. It comes back to the old adage of ‘treat others as you’d like to be treated’…doubly relevant if you’re also answering to a manager!
Not many things will kill motivation as quickly and effectively as stagnancy. Monitor how workers react to processes and ideas and ask for their feedback. Take their concerns on board and, if a pattern emerges, act on it to change things. Make sure that your approaches to motivation do not become dogmatic; if the model no longer holds true, don’t be afraid to break it up and start again.
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