Successful business leaders understand how to drive productivity by keeping employees motivated while protecting them from burnout. When employees are engaged and motivated, they tend to be happier in the workplace and have a greater sense of fulfillment. As a result, they stay at companies longer. Traditionally, companies have primarily relied on money to motivate their employees. However, high salaries and bonuses are no longer the primary factors that individuals look for in a new position. In fact, many people will accept positions with lower pay and no chance for bonuses if they believe that the company’s leaders will create an engaging and rewarding environment. The following are some of the key non-monetary strategies for keeping employees motivated:
Encourage a positive life-work balance.
While it might seem that encouraging employees to work less would diminish productivity, the opposite is true. When people feel stuck at work all the time, their motivation to work begins to wane. But, if given the opportunity to take time off to be with family or engage in other interests, employees come back to work refreshed and ready to work hard. In addition, promoting a good life-work balance makes employees feel more loyal to the company and more motivated to further the organization’s mission.
Establish clear career advancement pathways.
When employees feel that they have no ability to advance their careers with the company, they have little motivation to achieve anything beyond their basic job requirements. However, when business leaders create clear pathways for career advancement, including mentoring, training, and education reimbursement, people will work hard to stand out from the pack. Research has shown that offering such opportunities to employees who felt there was no path to advancement resulted in them leaving the organization entirely. Thus, business leaders need to emphasize the opportunities for advancement that exist within the organization.
Recognize employees for their hard work.
Not all rewards need to be monetary in nature. Many employees today are just as motivated by personal recognition from business leaders. When leaders show that they are paying attention to their employees’ efforts, employees become motivated to work even harder. Leaders should especially recognize employees who take risks—whether those risks are successful or not. Risks, and the innovation they generate, are what move a company forward. This type of acknowledgement creates the right type of culture at the company and shows that failures are not inherently bad; in fact, they are valuable learning opportunities.
Restrict the number of e-mails and mandatory meetings.
When managers and business leaders begin writing long e-mails, sending communications every 30 minutes, or calling multiple meetings a day, they monopolize their employees’ time. To be productive, employees need uninterrupted time to work. If employees feel that meetings and communications take up all of their time, then their motivation drops. Business leaders need to be respectful of employees’ schedules and make sure that they have adequate time to attend to tasks. In today’s increasingly connected world, collaboration tools and other technologies can help streamline processes and keep wasted time to a minimum.
Think of employees like investors.
Too many business leaders view their employees as merely labor rather than investors in the company. As a result, they only share a limited amount of information with them. In reality, business leaders should realize that employees are just as important to a company’s future as investors are, and they deserve to be kept in the loop with important information. When employees understand how their work fits into the bigger picture, they are much more motivated to go above and beyond their minimum duties. Also, employees may have important feedback for the company or great ideas about how to improve products and services if they understand future goals.
Break the tedium and boredom of office work.
Employees who face the same schedule day in and day out will quickly lose motivation due to tedium. To avoid the boredom of regular schedules, business leaders can encourage employees to be inventive and explorative. Individuals may want to think about allowing remote work, at least part of the time, and flexible work hours. Also, managers should avoid continually assigning repetitive tasks to the same person. Creating opportunities for collaboration and teamwork is another way to break the tedium. Additionally, working in groups tends to encourage innovation.
Emphasize the importance of healthy living.
More employees and employers across the country are seeing that optimal health drives productivity. As a result, workplace health programs have become more common. When employees are not distracted by healthcare issues, they can focus completely on their tasks. While employers are helping to lower the cost of healthcare, they are also instituting unique initiatives such as early morning workout teams, access to gyms, and free group exercise classes during the day or after work. Some companies are even offering rewards, such as extra vacation hours, for adopting healthier lifestyles. For example, people who are trying to quit smoking may be able to go home two hours early on Fridays if they avoid smoking for an entire week.