In today’s fast-paced business world, companies want their employees to work hard and work fast. As an employer, you want to encourage your employees to be productive and take action as much as possible. Luckily for you, this doesn’t require any sort of expensive fees or complicated rituals. Motivating your employees can be simple, easy, cheap, and even fun. Plus, you will be grateful when you see the results. The best way to motivate your employees is to make them happy. Here are a few ideas:
1. Set goals.
Employee autonomy is a great thing, but it can be overwhelming when one worker has too many duties or doesn’t quite know which duties to work on. They might be stuck deciding between several different tasks and be confused as to which one to complete first. Even worse, the employee might have to multi-task, something that is terrible for productivity.
Make sure each employee has a clear to-do list to follow each day. It should allow the worker to clearly prioritize the important tasks that must be completed first and recognize which tasks should be completed afterwards. It will also motivate your employee to get everything done by the end of the day so that there is less temptation to goof around.
2. Give recognition.
Everyone wants to feel recognized and nobody wants to be thought of as simply another cog in the machine. You should praise each employee’s efforts when he or she does a good job. Take note of who is working hard and who is producing results. Give your exceptional employees the recognition they deserve. This could be as simple as a pat on the back or as lofty as labeling them as the “Employee of the Month.”
3. Be happy.
Mood is infectious, especially when it is coming from a leader. If you show up to work every day with a scowl on your face and a bad attitude, your employees will eventually feel irritable and demotivated. If you show up to work every day with a smile on your face and an uplifting attitude, your employees will feel happier and be more productive.
Remember that a leader has the power to dramatically shape how his or her company operates. You should be a reflection of your ideal employee. Work hard and your employees will work hard as well. Have confidence and your employees will become more confident in your company and your leadership abilities. Be comfortable and your employees will be able to relax.
4. Foster teamwork.
Employees who have a lot of friends at work are much more productive (unless they spent all their time socializing instead of working). An infographic from Officevibe shows that employees who have friends at work have a 35% higher commitment to quality, are 1.3 times more likely to get positive feedback in the past six months, and benefit 137% more from personal development support.
On the other hand, employees who feel excluded are more likely to behave badly. A 2014 study from the University of Georgia Terry College of Business divided participants into groups of four and asked them to complete two tests that would be scored against other groups. The participants were all told that only three members of each group were allowed to take the second test. This would be determined by a vote. Researchers told some participants that they received three votes and told others that they only received one vote.
After the participants were told how many group members supposedly voted for them, they were asked to unscramble an anagram and record how many times they solved it. There was just one catch: the anagram was impossible to solve. Needless to say, the participants who were primed to feel excluded reported that they solved the impossible anagram more often than the ones who were primed to feel included.
5. Talk walks.
Sometimes employees just need a quick break to refresh their mind. Believe it or not, taking a quick walk can help improve productivity and creativity. Walking gets the body exercise and helps blood flow to the brain and throughout the body. It also helps employees take a break from the ill effects of prolonged sitting, typing, or staring at a computer screen.
Research from Stanford conducted three experiments to test how walking could affect someone’s “divergent thinking.” The researchers found that students who walked for a few minutes produced 60% more creative output compared to the students who sat down. In a fourth experiment, researchers asked students to come up with quality analogies for sudden phrases. Students who walked beforehand performed twice as good as students who sat down.
6. Allow feedback.
Every employee wants to feel valued in some way or another. Give everyone a chance to participate and allow everyone to have their own voice and opinions. You never know what sort of awesome ideas could come from your employees. They could have some wild out-of-the-box solutions that nobody else would have come up with. This will not only help the company develop new marketing strategies; it also helps employees feel more included.
7. Give them a sense of purpose.
One way to dramatically improve productivity is to make sure that employees have a sense of purpose when they are working for the company. Perhaps they want to use their job as an opportunity to brush up on their own skills or to help give back to the community.
Find out what your employee’s goals are and try to align the company’s needs with their own goals. For example, someone who wants to improve their communication skills would have a great opportunity interacting with customers. This will give employees something to look forward to every day.
8. Provide food.
Getting free lunch every day is an awesome benefit that most employees love to receive. Of course, you don’t need to be that elaborate, but you should at least offer some coffee, tea, and healthy snacks.
Hungry employees don’t have the energy to work their best or resist distractions. Employees who eat junk food might find themselves exhausted after a sugar crash. Provide some KIND bars or fruit so that your employees can snack on while they work. Food that is good for the brain is also good for productivity.
9. Pay attention to the time of day.
Everyone has their own chronotype that dictates when that individual works best. For example, “night owls” work better during evening shifts and “morning larks” work better earlier in the day. When owls are working in the morning and larks in the evening, their productivity and morality both drop.
A trio of researchers -- Christopher M. Barnes, Brian Gunia, and Sunita Sah -- found that certain people are more unethical during certain times of the day. The researchers conducted two experiments. In the first one, participants were asked to anonymously report how many matrices they solved in a given period of time. The higher amount of correct answers yielded a higher financial reward. The results found that night owls were more likely to cheat at the experiment was conducted in the morning.
A second experiment was conducted at night. Participants were asked to calculate the numbers they rolled on dice. Once again, higher results meant more pay. The average of all die rolls is 3.5, so it was easy to tell who may be over-reporting. Consistent with their research, morning larks were more likely to cheat at night.
This happens because people who work during times incompatible with their chronotype have less energy and therefore have a harder time resisting temptation. It also makes them far less productive because they are more tired.
10. Promote healthy competition.
What will make people want to work the hardest? Winning a competition, of course! Find ways to encourage employees to compete in a healthy way, not a way that encourages them to sabotage their opponents.
For example, your company can reward the employee who sells the most during a given time period. This will encourage competitive employees to work harder in order to get the best results. Just make sure that the competition is fun for everyone who participates.
About the Author: Patrick W. Dunne is currently a staff writer for SMBAdviser.com and writes about topics like business, leadership, productivity, finance, and marketing. He graduated from Chaminade University with a B.A. in Business Administration and a minor in Psychology. If you’d like to contact him for freelance or guest blogging opportunities, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message to his LinkedIn profile.
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