It’s no secret that 2020 took its toll on the workplace and employee motivation was one of its victims. In fact, nearly half our workforce is unhappy on the job today. But, savvy business leaders won’t let that bleed over into 2021 – it’s time to turn the situation around.
Your team will appreciate it, as will your productivity, sense of satisfaction, and bottom line. Fortunately, many of the strategies you can use to boost motivation and morale are not expensive and after you read and digest the insights offered here, you’ll have them securely in your playbook.
Are you struggling to motivate employees at the moment? Well, you aren’t the only one: A staggering 46 percent of employees in the United States are unhappy at work these days.
That’s almost one in two Americans who feel dissatisfied with their jobs! As you know, this can have serious implications on everything from productivity and morale to company culture and output.
Of course, it’s natural for levels of employee motivation to ebb and flow. And, given the craziness and uncertainty of this year, it’d be understandable if they’re at an all-time low right now.
But there’s no point dwelling on the past right?
The real question is how to flip this situation on its head, turn over a new leaf, and build employee motivation in 2021.
Start With Why
Your employees may have a solid understanding of what they do on a daily basis. But do they know why they’re doing it?
For many employers, the answer to this all-important question is a resounding ‘no.’
Alas, the likelihood of keeping their workforce motivated suffers in the process. After all, knowing why they’re doing something sets that task in context.
They are no longer just a cog in an unidentifiable machine – they have a purpose!
This helps your team appreciate the impact they’re having on the overall business. That, in turn, begets a greater sense of connection to it. Motivation rises as a result.
Of course, this relates to the company’s mission as well.
Having a strong ‘why’ behind your business creates a shared point of focus for the team.
Everyone knows why they’re there and what they’re working toward, which also facilitates increased motivation.
Keep Things Interesting
Trust us, nothing kills employee motivation quicker than boredom.
Think back to school for a second. We all had that one dull, stuffy teacher who turned interesting topics into something altogether more tedious, right? Attending their classes was a lesson in patience as much as anything else!
It became a chore. You went because you had to, not because you wanted to. Focusing felt impossible, inattentiveness became the norm, and your results suffered.
Now, as an adult, the same thing applies to the workplace.
If you want people on the team to stay inspired and proactive, then avoid monotony like the plague. Mix things up, issue exciting tasks, provide opportunities for progress (more on this next), and create incentives programs.
When well implemented, these kinds of measures are certain to improve motivation levels.
Provide Growth Opportunities
Ambitious employees want to know they can move up in the company.
Providing no opportunities for advancement is a recipe for trouble! It’s only a matter of time before employees get bored and look for jobs elsewhere, forcing you to bid farewell to your top performers.
By the same token, a clear route up the ladder provides people with something to shoot for.
They’ll know what’s available and how to attain it. With no ceiling on what they can achieve, you give employees a reason to work hard and deliver results. In other words, the promise of progress is a winning formula for motivating your team.
Set Challenging Goals
We now know that employee motivation can hinge on a) a lack of boredom and b) the opportunity to succeed. This is where so-called “stretch goals” come into play.
The basic idea is to set employee goals (in line with their respective roles) that push them just beyond their current capabilities. This is a clever way to challenge people, keep them engaged, and create a growth opportunity all at once.
However, the keywords in our previous sentence were “just beyond.” Asking too much of the team can do more harm than good.
Instead of encouraging people to excel, excessive goals will lead to stress, burnout, and general dissatisfaction.
You have to strike the right balance! You want to stretch people without overstretching them. Get it right and you’ll enjoy amazing motivational results.
The people on your team need to feel heard, appreciated, and validated to stay committed. After all, which employer would you rather try to please: the one who never acknowledges your efforts, or the one who both notices and thanks you for them?
The latter, of course. Indeed, going too long without any sign of gratitude is sure to foster resentment. They’ll start to question the point of trying and consequently lapse into apathy.
Strive to recognize and reward employee contributions. Say thank you, give them a shout out in the staff newsletter, and offer thoughtful presents.
These sorts of minor touches make a major difference in levels of motivation.
You reinforce good work and make people will feel valued at the same time. This inevitably leads to newfound satisfaction in the workplace and a better work ethic thereafter.
Trust the Team
Your managerial style has a direct impact on employee motivation too. Do you crack the whip and micromanage in your bid for results? Or are you liberal with trust, eager to empower people, and intent on building relationships?
It’s time for a change if you answered with the former!
Nobody (especially your top performers) wants to feel controlled, obstructed, or bossed around at work. You’ll end up with a culture of fear and frustration that stifles team creativity, innovation, and productivity.
Trusting your employees to do their jobs will deliver the opposite outcome. Instead of feeling stifled and unsupported, they’ll feel empowered and motivated. They’ll operate with autonomy, offer invaluable contributions, and remain hungry to help.
Have Fun Days
As the old saying goes, All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. In the same way, all work and no play makes your employees overstressed and unenthusiastic! With that in mind, why not take steps to incorporate some fun into the working week in 2021?
You don’t have to go full Google and install slides instead of stairs.
But you could consider paying for a work night out, going out for lunch as a team, or setting up a games room somewhere in the office. Anything of this nature would give people a break, raise morale, foster teamwork, and boost levels of motivation.
Unsure what you could do to make a fun-filled difference? Speak to your employees to get their thoughts. Including them in the decision should guarantee their buy-in and deliver a host of creative ideas to boot.
Double-Down on Positivity
Negativity is kryptonite to motivation levels (not to mention the overall company culture). From unwanted criticism to office politics, it comes in many forms. But it always has the same detrimental effect of suffocating all joy and creativity from the office.
That’s why it’s crucial to focus your attention on positivity instead!
This doesn’t mean ignoring problems that arise or being inauthentic with your response to hardship. All we’re suggesting is that you err on the side of positive vibes whenever possible.
Make happiness your go-to response and set clear expectations about the culture you’re trying to establish.
From there, stamp out unacceptable behavior and purge the team of negative influences. You’ll soon see improvements in relationships, productivity, workplace satisfaction, and motivation.
Focus on Workplace Wellbeing
Workplace well-being is a core component of running a positive organization. If it isn’t already, then make it your mission in 2021 to ensure your employees are safe, happy, and well!
That might mean providing food in the office, or a safe space to take a break, or access to counseling services when times are tough. It might involve performing one-on-one catch-ups, encouraging people to take breaks and vacations, offering regular words of appreciation, and issuing financial bonuses.
Whatever the case may be in your business, the outcomes are sure to pay dividends.
Whatever the case may be in your business, the outcomes are sure to pay dividends.
For one thing, rates of sick leave and expensive employee turnover will both decline. For another, your employees will be happy, grateful, energized, and engaged at work. Efficiency, productivity, and overall output should all get a boost in the process.
Time to Motivate Employees for 2021
As we pointed out in the introduction, people are more dissatisfied at work than ever before. And that’s bad news for employers! Everything from output to the atmosphere suffers when motivation is low.
The good news is that there are all sorts of ways to motivate employees.
With the right insights and approach, you can remedy this unfortunate state of affairs quickly. Have you been trying to do exactly that in your business?
We hope the suggestions here will make a positive difference. Keep them in mind as you make managerial decisions and you can get far better at motivating your employees – and reaping the many rewards of doing so.