How to Motivate Employees and Increase Productivity


Ruth Albertson

Dec 18, 2020


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Human Resources

No matter how much people love their jobs, the work routine can eventually become old, and boredom can begin settling around the office. If you have noticed that employee productivity has been lagging in your workplace or even that your job satisfaction has already started to wane, you do not have to give in to the spirit of apathy.

Employee motivation produces energy that can build and transfer from one employee to another. It can lead to increased productivity, a more positive work environment, and even monetary rewards for your business. To improve your workplace motivation, you need to know what your employees value and meet these spoken or unspoken needs. Staff motivation may begin with you, but, like a glass of spilled water, it can quickly saturate everyone around you with excitement and energy to work harder and smarter.

The word "Productivity" with some arrows going forward

Top 12 Ways to Motivate Employees and Increase Productivity

While the precise way you keep your team motivated will depend on your work environment, office culture, and personal and professional values, you can use these 12 tips to get you started. Although changes may not happen overnight, your team members will eventually jump on board with new programs and goals that you put in place if they feel that the rewards are worth their effort.

1. Set Team Goals

One of the simplest places to start is with setting team goals. Be sure to keep these goals small enough so that employees do not feel discouraged. Also, make sure that your goals are measurable. This will help employees feel that they can reach their goals on time. Use tracking methods, which could either utilize software or traditional paper-and-pencil methods, so that progress is visible. Employees love seeing how their work is making a difference for your small business.

Someone at the table holding a trophy while others applaud during a meeting

2. Reward Employees

A paycheck can be a powerful motivator for any employee. However, rewards do not merely have to be monetary. Instead, they can be other physical items, such as tickets to events, gift cards, or new things for the home or office. You could also give top employees an extra day or two of vacation, discount coupons, or monthly gym memberships to focus on their self-care. When you put your time and money into rewarding employees who are working hard, they will want to spend their own time helping your business succeed.

3. Be Effusive With Praise

Many people respond well to words of encouragement. Your comments can fill employees with confidence and boost their self-esteem while helping them feel as if they are respected members of your team. Be generous with your positive comments, and celebrate even small successes. This will show your employees that you see what they are doing and appreciate their efforts.

4. Publicly Recognize Employees

People at work applauding a woman standing in the middle

While private words of encouragement are undoubtedly beneficial, public recognition is even more potent because their team members will feel more highly respected. Use emails, team meetings, and even social media to boast about your best employees. Buy snacks and drinks on team recognition days.

5. Make Employees Company Shareholders

Although this option may not be possible for all small businesses, it is a powerful motivation technique. When employees are part of the company, they will feel that they are working for themselves. The positive things that they do will affect the success of the company and their success simultaneously. When employees have a stake in the company, they will make more money every time the business does.

6. Promote From Within

There is no surer way to decrease morale than hire a new member of the management team from outside your company when you have highly skilled employees qualified to do the job right under your nose. Whenever possible, promote your current employees into higher roles, rewarding their years of effort and showing that you respect their loyalty to your business. The right human resources software will help you keep track of your employees and their successes.

Man working on his laptop remotely from his home

7. Give Employees Autonomy and Flexibility

A flexible work environment can help employees work more creatively, think outside the box, and get inspiration outside their cubicles’ four walls. Let employees choose their hours and work remotely if possible. Feeling autonomous leads to a sense of personal and professional fulfillment and helps employees meet the goals that they have set for themselves. Try not to micromanage your employees and value their contributions to your work environment.

8. Improve the Work Environment

Speaking of your environment, try to create a pleasant atmosphere with plenty of spaces for teamwork along with quiet nooks that foster solitude. Good lighting, comfortable chairs, and efficient desks do much to make employees excited to come into work each day. Depending on the environment you are trying to create, use soothing or energetic paint colors. Your employees spend a great deal of time in your workplace each week, and their space should be as comfortable as possible.

9. Use Games and Friendly Competition

While an employer-backed rewards system works well for many, other types of friendly competition may be more inspiring for employees who like to set internal goals. Many parts of work-life, from team meetings to project management, can be made into games, which naturally drive people to try to do as well as possible. However, be sure that your competitions do not turn into fierce rivalries or bitter feuds.

10. Foster Positive Company Culture

Teamwork - Group of people putting their ands together

Company culture is one of the touchstones of a good work environment, but it can be challenging to control. One of the best ways to maintain your workplace culture is by managing who you recruit and hire. First, make a list of company values you already have and run them by your current employees. Then, create an interview process that helps you know each applicant’s values and personality rather than only his accomplishments. This will ensure an energizing workplace rather than an aggravating one.

11. Pay for Employee Training

Put a priority on improving employee skills by helping to pay for ongoing training. This could include anything from college courses at your local community college to short classes on using project management software or creating spreadsheets. By training and developing your current employees, you can build a strong base of loyal workers prepared to go to the next level for you.

12. Encourage Self-Care

Of course, not everything in business is about the bottom line. Instead of only encouraging employees to finish the next project and bring in more money, encourage them to take care of themselves. Invest in a gym membership or even an on-site workout room for employees. Create a quiet space for reflection during a stressful day. Provide adequate medical benefits and sufficient sick time. Healthy employees are sure to be happy and productive workers.

Extrinsic Versus Intrinsic Motivational Strategies

"Extrinsic Motivation" with trophies vs "Intrinsic Motivation" with smiley face

Each of these 12 ways to motivate employees and increase productivity can be placed into two categories. The first six tips are generally described as extrinsic motivation forms, while the final six are forms of intrinsic motivation. Ideally, you should be using some of each type to motivate your employees best and create the most positive effects for your business. However, you may find that it is easier to start with extrinsic techniques before moving on to more personal intrinsic methods.

Extrinsic motivation is the motivation that comes from outside the employee. For example, it could be a larger paycheck, workplace benefits, or other tangible rewards. It could also include words or emails of encouragement. These ways of rewarding employees are typically the easiest to accomplish.

On the other hand, intrinsic motivation comes from inside the individual. It does not involve things that you can see or measure. Instead, it rests on your employees’ desires, values, and belief systems. Although it can be more challenging to create intrinsic motivation factors, this method is far more powerful and can increase employee satisfaction over the years.

Are you looking for ways to grow your business and create a more flexible work environment for your dedicated employees? E-Marketing Associates can help with software solutions for review management, customer voice, and much more, along with plenty of tips and tricks to make your small business genuinely thrive.

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