People are an asset to any organization. But one of the most challenging tasks for businesses is to build a team of people that works for the success of the company, and not just for the sake of completing their responsibilities. Achieving this requires creating a highly motivated workforce that is very engaging and active and sees organizational goals as their own.
In this article, I will briefly discuss 10 ways to create a motivated workforce. Please note that this is not a magic wand that will transform your environment in a day or two’s time. It could be a few days or even weeks till you start seeing the results of these steps.
So here we go.
1. Communicate organizational vision and goals
In many organizations – especially large established companies – there is a huge disconnect between senior management and employees. Many employees do not know the purpose of their work, or they fail to see the bigger picture, They are unaware of the business outcomes of their contributions. This could lead to disinterest and dissatisfaction among them over a period.
To mitigate this,you need to ensure that you clearly communicate your strategy and goals to different divisions, departments, teams and employees. This helps to align team and individual employee goals to organizational level goals. This would give the a sense of participation, and encourage them to become active contributors. This can be done using the following:
- Open house address by CEO and other C level leaders
- Quarterly status reports (over and above published financial results)
- Proper induction to business heads, team leads, managers and employees
- Internal promotional activities for creating awareness on strategy and goals
2. Encourage proactive suggestions and contribution
No employee wants to be order takers. They want to get involved in their work as much as possible. One of the ways of doing this is to give suggestions and recommendations to improve any process or task. It could be in the area of one’s own work or anybody else’s.
Majority of the employees want their voice to be heard. So invite opinion from them on relevant topics, especially in the areas of their work. If you find the ideas to be solid and useful, discuss with the person who suggested it to develop it further.
Also let the other team members know about this. This serves two purposes – it acts as a motivation for the employee, and it encourages others to come up with similar ideas.
3. Appreciate not just the output, but efforts as well
A very common mistake made by many managers is that they appreciate an employee only if the outcome of his/her contribution is good. While only a good outcome can positively impact the business, every piece of work – be it a success or failure – is an opportunity to learn, and hence a knowledge asset for the future.
Further, not appreciating the effort spent on a project or a task might demoralize the employee leading to poor performance in the future. Instead, in the case of a mistake or poor work quality from the employee, the manager can guide him on how to do the task better. This also gives clarity to the employee as to what are the areas of improvement.
4. Conduct work related contests and cross team activities
This is very important. Work could become very monotonous. Sometimes you need to break the status quo by bringing in an element of change and excitement, but in a helpful way. So how to do it?
The solution is to conduct work related discussions and contests. Following are a few examples for such events and activities:
- Hackathons: Hackathon has become very popular nowadays. It is a collaborative effort to develop an idea into a small product or service offering in a few hours or few days time. Usually this is done in teams of 4-5 people. You can involve your employees in such events and award the best product or service at the end.
- Internal certifications: You can ask employees to learn relevant skills by doing internal certifications. You can choose to recognize the first few employees who completed the certification.
- Other contests: This could include coding competitions (if you are a tech firm), a sales tasks, creating promotional content etc.
- Cross team activities: These are intended to improve collaboration and cooperation among employees. Examples are puzzle games, treasure hunts, group marathons etc.
5. Create a work plan and stick to it
Absolute clarity is a must for leaders, team leads and managers. It has to reflect while they lead their teams. They need to organize their team’s work by creating a milestone based work plan. It should clearly articulate the roles & responsibilities and the timeline to achieve them. This helps employees to effectively plan their time and gives the flexibility to easily manage their work hours.
A work plan should have the following components:
- Goals and objectives
- Strategy and direction
- Resources available
- Contingency plans
A work plan can act as a framework for employees to base their work on. The ability to manage their own work and having complete clarity, keep them active and motivate to work towards the goals more systematically.
6. Bring employees to the limelight
Employees seek attention and recognition. And in a hierarchical organization, hardly does a low level employee get an opportunity to show his skills and abilities to the senior management or customers. You need to create such avenues in your business schedule to facilitate business leader or customer interactions for the employees.
Such interactions will help improve the confidence level of employees and give a sense of importance to them. Following are a few ways in which you can do this:
- Leader connect events: Here you conduct short events having leader speak sessions and face to face interactions
- Mentorship: You can assign a senior leader as a mentor to a group of people in your company
- Customer meetings: If it doesn’t harm to take one or two additional people with you to a customer meeting, feel free to do it. This not only gives exposure to the employee, but also will be useful for you if he/she is able to contribute to the discussions.
- Recognizing achievement: A good way to appreciate an employee is to let others know about his/her achievement. Don’t hesitate to share your employee’s hard work and effort with other employees
So always ensure, your employees get enough opportunities to grab others’ attention through their talent and performance.
7. Facilitate continuous learning and development
Self development is one of the main goals of your employees. While they contribute towards the success of the business, they also need to sharpen their skills and abilities. And companies need to provide enough learning facilities and opportunities to their employees to stay relevant.
There can be different ways in which you can do this as given below:
- Training and internal certifications: Training should be a mix of hard skills and soft skills. Internal certifications should be good enough to equip an employee with adequate actionable knowledge in that area.
- Sponsored external certifications: There are a lot of entities which provide globally recognized certifications. You can suggest employees to take certifications relevant to their areas of work and would be beneficial for the organization as well.
- Online and offline learning resources: Online resources could be an online library, LMS (Learning Management System), or a knowledge repository. Offline resources include libraries, learning sessions and discussions.
The training has to be comprehensive and should aim at the holistic development of an individual. This will in turn improve employee performance and business productivity.
8. Create a positive work environment
This is obvious. Even if the work is exciting, if it is not complemented by an engaging and lively work environment, expected outcomes will not be met.
Also, an unfavorable work environment results in disengaged employees. According to Harvard Business Review, studies done by Queens School of Business and by the Gallup Organization, show that disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects.
Further, according to fastcompany.com, a study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive. So it is needless to say that building a happy workforce is very critical.
Creating a positive work environment is one of the best ways to keep employees happy. Following are a few tips to do it in your business environment:
- Respect every employee. Don’t forget to thank even the smallest of the contributions
- Provide the flexibility to an employee as to how to approach a task, as long as a good outcome is guaranteed
- Ensure you conduct festival celebrations and cultural events
- Try to have personal connect with the employees
- Be supportive and provide mentorship and guidance whenever required
9. Establish support mechanisms
This actually also helps in point #8, creating a favorable work environment. Employees are humans. And to perform at their best, they need to have enough support from others and the company. Support systems like medical care, counseling, safety instructions & advice, child care facilities, etc. are critical to ensure the mental health of employees.
More and more companies in the US and Europe are including these as a part of their support system. If you do not prefer to develop these systems internally, you can consider hiring a third party contractor who is specialized in that particular area.
10. Lay down a career path
Every employee wants to grow. Career growth is equally – or more – important as anything else for an individual. And when companies go to the job market, one of their main offers is usually is a promising career.
However, many organizations – especially those in the service sector – tend to maintain a fluid workbench which can be allocated based on ad hoc requirements. And many a times there is no defined career path for employees, which outlines where they would reach say, in next 5 years. This doesn’t excite them. They would always prefer to know what’s their growth path so that they can channel their efforts in that direction.
While it becomes compelling for some companies to keep a workbench, there are other ways which help to set a career path for all employees. Some of them are given below:
- Hire for specific roles: When it comes to work, nobody wants to become the jack of all trades. They want to focus on one or two specific areas and build their capability in them. So make sure to hire people to serve specific roles and invest the time and effort to train them for it.
- Streamline resource management: Even in a service company, rarely do requirements arise completely unexpected. So plan properly for future requirements and prepare your employees accordingly.
- Include career definition as a part of planning: Ensure to include career progress as a part of your yearly business/HR plan.
Once you have established career paths for various roles, communicate it to the employees at the time of joining. This will help them become more focused and committed.
That wraps up my top 10 ways to create a motivated workforce. Do you also think employee motivation is critical? Share your views and opinion in the comment section. Also feel free to share if you have seen any innovative ways to keep employees happy.