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  • Writer's pictureCheri Corfey

Motivating Employees is Good for Business

A couple months back, LinkedIn posted an article highlighting the 12, most-valued employee traits. Number 2 on their list was self-motivation, stating that, “a good employee never hesitates of taking responsibility or a more responsible position. He/she also ready to work beyond the call of duty to meet goals or to solve problems.”

Above and beyond issues of productivity and work ethic, motivated employees set the tone for new hires and they help to promote a positive company culture.

What Motivates Employees?

While it’s true that motivation is often an inherent personality trait, i.e. a motivated person may excel at a job they loathe as a result of who they are while, in the meantime, they’re using free time to look for a new job.

So, as human resource specialists, we’re more interested in learning about the external influences that can motivate a workforce. Here are some of the common themes that exist in companies that work to motivate employees and create an attractive company culture.

They provide above-standard compensation

There’s a reason why San Francisco citizens worked hard to pass laws achieving a minimum wage that far surpassed the state’s (as of July 2016, San Francisco’s minimum wage is $13.00 per hour, $3 higher than the state’s minimum wage). Yes, there was some progressive political influence, but the real reason the bill passed was because San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live in the state of California, and residents working two, full-time minimum wage jobs were still struggling to pay basic bills.

Let your company use this example to dig deep and provide employee compensation that makes sense for bottom line bill paying, with a little extra left over. Provide benefits packages that do more than cover the basics and that provide for employees’ retirement.

Are you just starting your business or growing beyond your few, core employees? Meet with an HR consultant who will teach you more about the industry standards. Learning what your competitors pay, then pad it a bit to attract - and retain - the best candidates for the job.

They get to know employees on an individual basis

If you have a smaller company, this is very straightforward. If you run a medium-sized business, you may rely more on managers to take this concept on. The idea is that ,like children in the same family, every employee is a little different; what motivates ( or demotivates) one may not have the same affect on another. Engage employees in conversations as much as possible to learn what makes each one tick. This will give you a better idea of the types of incentives you can offer to individuals, teams and/or departments in order to maintain an eager and motivated staff.

Set weekly, monthly and quarterly goals

There isn’t a lot of incentive to work harder or think outside the box if you labor all day, every day, with virtually no change in outcome. Try creating industry- and position-applicable goals that keep your employees motivated to continually elevate their work performance. Adding incentives is always a good idea too.

Employees are trusted and leadership is fostered

We’ve seen all too often how well-meaning small business owners micro-manage employees until they become no more than unempowered, emotionally uninvested and barely-motivated hired help. Contrary to what you may think, you are not the only person capable of doing things right. Your job as an owner, boss, and/or manager is to train employees well, let them know you trust they’ll do nothing less than a fantastic job and then create a work environment that fosters leadership and a sense of upward movement for those who are steadfast and loyal enough to work their way up the ranks.

They honor a job well done

Don’t be the type of boss that criticizes more than compliments. Take time out each week, or at each department meeting, to verbally recognize employees who are going above and beyond the minimum or whose ideas have helped to increase sales or solve a latent problem. In line with the idea of compensation and incentives, find out what types of small-ticket items are appealing to employees – maybe a $10 or $20 gift card to a local coffee shop or 15-minutes of extra paid lunch-break time for a week. It doesn’t take much to make a person feel valued, and it will go long way towards motivating them to keep on task.

Feel like your employees don’t have the work ethic or motivation you were hoping for? Implement some of the above tips and see if it makes a difference. Or, consult with an HR specialist who can review what you’re doing – or not doing – in order to change things around.

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