Tue, Aug 7, 2012
David Bakke is a former manager who now runs his own online reselling business. He shares small business and personal finance advice on Money Crashers, a blog that covers topics such as using effective marketing strategies and finding the best small business credit cards.
In today’s world, where jobs are at a premium and companies are downsizing at unprecedented rates, it is crucial to get the most out of your workforce. But only 20% of Americans feel very passionate about their jobs and 33% feel they have reached a dead-end, according to a Harris survey. Out of all survey participants, younger workers feel the least amount of loyalty toward their employers.
So how do you improve employee motivation? Offering greater pay often isn’t always an option, and there might not be sufficient funds in the budget for typical motivational tools or rewards. However, by using a little common sense and creativity, there are plenty of ways to motivate your employees for little or no cost.
Here are some affordable and free ideas to motivate employees at your company:
Often, managers think their employees are motivated by one thing and one thing only: money. However, this is just not true. One simple way to motivate your staff is to consistently thank them. Many managers mistakenly believe their employees know they’re appreciated, but truthfully, your staff needs to hear it. Thank them often and take an interest in their personal lives.
In a previous career, I made it a point to sit down over a cup of coffee with members of my staff once per week and have a short conversation that was completely unrelated to work. I asked them about their kids or family, anything to show them I cared. Interestingly, the more I learned about their lives outside the workplace, the more I really did care. This gesture went a long way to create a happy, productive, and loyal workforce.
Teach New Skills
Another great way to boost the morale of your employees is to teach them a new skill. In fact, as long as you provide the training, employees are typically willing to take on additional responsibility.
Such new skills do not necessarily have to be closely related to their current position. You can motivate your staff members, as well as boost their strength, by cross-training them in applicable areas. In turn, this will enhance their value within the company and therefore provide a sense of job security. This allows your staff members to focus on their work, rather than worrying that they may be considered expendable.
Spend Some of Your Own Money
I am not suggesting any huge expenditure here. However, a willingness to pull a few dollars out of your own pocket once in a while can reap huge benefits.
Recently, my company hosted a Christmas party, but no alcohol was included. Rather than making the employees pay for their drinks, the management staff decided to foot the bill. It only cost each manager about $40, and not only did the employees appreciate the free drinks, it spoke volumes to the fact that management cared enough about them to spend a little of their own money.
Award Paid Days Off
Hold a competition to see who among your staff can be most productive. Set a goal for your workers to aspire toward, such as top sales over a two-week time span, with the prize being a paid day off. The responsibilities of the winner may have to be divided amongst the rest of the staff, so this adds extra incentive to increase productivity.
Hold a Contest to Relax Office Duties
Aside from awarding paid days off, you can also hold a contest in which the winner (or your entire staff) will be exempt from certain duties if the goal is met.
Recently, my office needed a strong sales month to finish the year with a bang. Therefore, we instituted a contest: If all employees hit their monthly sales goals, management would perform all cleaning duties for the following month – including the employee bathrooms, the break room, the sales counter, and more. To remind the staff, we hung a bottle of bathroom cleaner from the ceiling in the break room. And this tactic really seemed to work, as each employee hit or exceeded their sales target that month.
Host a Free Employee Outing
Lastly, a great way to promote team-building and increase productivity is to schedule a free employee outing. It could be nothing more than a meet-up at a local park for some volleyball.
Everyone deserves a break, and I have found these events to be particularly enjoyable. You can even turn such an event into a potluck picnic and invite the families of your staff. This simple gesture shows you care about your employees and their families as well. Again, if you can bridge the gap between boss and friend, you’re much more likely to gain your employees’ loyalty and create a more positive working environment.
The cost of turnover can be staggering for a company: up to a $2,000 loss for losing just one employee! This can be especially harmful for small-business owners. Therefore, as a manager or entrepreneur, it is important to keep turnover at a minimum, and using cost-effective methods to motivate your staff can help ensure employees will remain happy and engaged in their work. After all, a motivated staff that cares about the job is the best way to guarantee the long-term growth and profitability of your business.
What other ways can you think of to motivate your staff?