Designer cupcakes…27-inch Apple Thunderbolt monitors…Free dry cleaning…A state-of-the-art kitchen stocked with all-you-can-drink Italian espresso.
These are just a few of the incentives companies have reported using in an effort to inspire their employees.
Although these treats are often enough to attract an employee, and maybe even entrap them into working a few extra hours here and there, these incentives aren’t quite translating as employers hoped they would:
“We want to motivate them,” business leaders tell me. “We want them to be as invested in the company’s mission as we are.”
Unfortunately, a reported 70% of employees in America are not engaged at work. .. And that number is probably on the modest side.
This has an impact on morale and productivity, but it also directly affects the bottom line: companies with highly engaged employees earn 2.5 times the revenue of companies with low engagement, so employers’ interest in a motivated workforce is understandable.
Here are a few of the tips I share with my corporate clients about how they can attract and retain motivated employees:
- Connect. According to one survey, only 40% of the workforce knew about their company’s goals, strategies, and tactics. Let your employees know they’re valued and share how their contributions are impacting the company’s mission. Bringing your team into the fold and exposing them to the bigger picture of what you are trying to accomplish—and WHY you’re trying to accomplish it— is the most powerful way to motivate them. Also, look at what you can do to support them. If an employee needs help, do whatever you can, be it through company resources, or putting them into a role that aligns more naturally with their skills and interests. People are inherently talented—line their work up with their unique brilliance.
- Financial incentives. Putting your money where your mouth is can be tricky, especially if you’re just getting your business off the ground. However, the stronger the correlation you can draw between their bank account and their success, the better. One survey found that 89% of companies that use financial incentives to motivate their staff were rated positively by employees, and the presence of corporate incentive programs motivated 66% of employees to stay with their companies.
- Honor and create a professional persona. It’s better to be respected than it is to be liked. It may sound Machiavellian, but although likability plays a factor in your success at work, it can also contribute to people being too relaxed around you. In fact, the lead researcher for Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In found that, despite substantial evidence to the contrary, success and likeability do not always go together. This is especially true when it comes to managing employees below you. There’s no need to terrify them, but keeping a professional line of communication between you and them is a surefire way to let them know that you’re here to work hard, and that’s what you expect from them, too.
- Positive reinforcement. According to a survey of 1,200 employees, 88% reported that praise from managers was extremely motivating. A separate survey of employees found that 43% of those identifying as “highly motivated” reported receiving feedback on a weekly basis. When the employees with self-reported “low engagement” answered the same question, only 18% reported receiving weekly feedback.The takeaway from these numbers? Always let your employees know what they’re doing right, and do it on a regular basis! Thank them. Give them gifts on the holidays. And for those of you who work with contractors, paying them on time goes a long way to foster goodwill.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. There will always be minor annoyances and errors that arise in the course of managing a team, but the challenge lies more in dealing with them than in eliminating them. The common relationship mantra “pick your battles” also applies here. If you choose to address every single misstep, your employees will begin to feel that they are being micromanaged.
Employees want to feel like they are a meaningful part of something bigger than themselves.
- What will it take for you or your company to instill that sense of value in your team? If you fail to invest in your employees, they will be less likely to invest in you. On the flip side, if you invest the time and energy in making your employees feel valued, your return will be multiplied tenfold.
This first appeared in Forbes.