The success of any business is closely tied to the degree of motivation of its employees. A happy and hardworking staff leads to high levels of productivity, which in turn leads to profitability for the entire organisation. When morale is low, however, nothing seems to turn out well, and it’s a good bet that employee turnover levels will increase, as well. High turnover rates mean that management is constantly hiring new staff, expending both time and financial resources to bring new hires up to speed. It’s hard for any business to maintain a level of success when employees aren’t feeling happy and fulfilled; satisfied employees make positive contributions to the company’s bottom line.
Although the process of employee motivation is as almost as much an art as it is a science, there are some general guidelines as to how successful companies effectively motivate their staff. The following points have been culled from the organisational policies and procedures, employee performance systems, and compensation systems that have been effectively utilized within many of today’s most profitable organizations.
Organizational Goal Alignment
The primary consideration when designing an effective employee motivation programme is that it must be aligned with the strategic goals of the business. Any program that offers rewards for behaviours or accomplishments must ensure that these behaviours or accomplishments serve the best interests of the company. An exceptional employee motivation system ensures that all employees are working as a whole in the direction in which the business plans to move.
Don’t be Afraid to Set an Example
Not every employee will be a success as a member of the organisation. In spite of your best efforts, there will always be a few individuals who, despite plenty of training, support, and encouragement, repeatedly fail to meet their goals. Non-performing employees need to be disciplined or discharged, not only for the sake of the company’s profitability but also as a clear signal to other employees that they are expected to meet their goals.
In fact, research conducted across multiple corporations has identified that the failure to fire non-performing employees is highly demotivating to other employees, as it signals that management is not concerned with whether employees meet their goals or not.
Once you have met with each employee to determine what motivates them and designed goals and rewards that are commensurate, empower your employees to determine exactly how they will reach their goals. Micromanaging is a behaviour that many employees find to be demotivating, so trust in the people that you have hired to carry out their activities in concert with their goals, which are aligned with the company’s goals as a whole. Of course, status checks are an excellent idea to make sure that an employee is not stuck or heading off in a divergent direction, but by stepping back and letting the employee direct their own efforts, you allow them autonomy and an increased sense of accomplishment in their efforts.
Reward the Behaviors You Wish to Encourage
Once the motivating factors for each employee have been determined, it’s time to set up a motivational system to encourage each staff member to perform in accordance with the organisational goals in order to earn rewards and recognition. Design the program so that each employee is provided with specific, attainable and realistic goals which are associated with positive performance in the capacity of their position. Make sure to practice objectivity when designing the motivational system and assessing progress; focus on employee behaviour and achievement, and not on individual personalities.
Celebrate and Reward Achievements
Even the most motivated employees will lose their enthusiasm if they feel that their achievements go unnoticed. Be sure to acknowledge progress and make a big deal when a staff member meets or exceeds their goals. Post results so that other employees can see that success is noticed and celebrated. Without adequate acknowledgement of their successful efforts, employees are likely to become cynical with management and frustrated in their work efforts.
Employee Motivation is an Ongoing Process
Because the people who make up the staff of an organisation can change over time, employee motivational systems must be fluid and be regularly assessed and revised. As employees become more skilled and more proficient at accomplishing their goals over time, their motivations may change. In a similar fashion, the goals of the organization can and will shift as time progresses, so employee goals and motivation programs may need to be updated to reflect the organization’s new direction.