Employee motivation is a continuing challenge at work. Particularly in work environments that don't emphasize employee satisfaction as part of an embraced and supported overall business strategy, supervisors and managers walk a tough road.
On the one hand, they recognize their power in drawing forth the best employees have to offer; on the other, they feel unsupported, rewarded or recognized themselves for their work to develop motivated, contributing employees.
My word to managers? Get over it. No work environment will ever perfectly support your efforts to help employees choose motivated behaviors at work. Even the most supportive workplaces provide daily challenges and often appear to operate at cross purposes with your goals and efforts to encourage employee motivation.
The worst workplaces for employees? Let's not even go there. They struggle to engage a fraction of their employees' motivation and desire to contribute. They never obtain their employees' discretionary energy.
No matter what climate your organization provides to support employee motivation, you can, within the perimeters of your areas of responsibility, and even beyond, if you choose to extend your reach, create an environment that fosters and calls forth employee motivation.
Seven Opportunities to Influence Employee Motivation
You can, daily, take actions that will increase employee satisfaction. Recommended are actions that employees say, in a recent Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) survey, are important to their job satisfaction. Management actions in these areas will create a work environment conducive to employee motivation.
Four of the five most important considerations in employee motivation: job security, benefits (especially health care) with the importance of retirement benefits rising with age of the employee, compensation/pay, and safety in the work environment are discussed in an article that addresses issues that are company-wide and rarely in the hands of an individual manager or supervisor.
Specific Actions to Increase Employee Motivation
These are seven consequential ways in which a manager or supervisor can create a work environment that will foster and influence increases in employee motivation - quickly.
Communicate responsibly and effectively any information employees need to perform their jobs most effectively. Employees want to be members of the in-crowd, people who know what is happening at work as soon as other employees know. They want the information necessary to do their jobs. They need enough information so that they make good decisions about their work.
- Meet with employees following management staff meetings to update them about any company information that may impact their work. Changing due dates, customer feedback, product improvements, training opportunities, and updates on new departmental reporting or interaction structures are all important to employees. Communicate more than you think is necessary.
- Stop by the work area of employees who are particularly affected by a change to communicate more. Make sure the employee is clear about what the change means for their job, goals, time allocation, and decisions.
- Communicate daily with every employee who reports to you. Even a pleasant â€œgood morningâ€ enables the employee to engage with you.
- Hold a weekly one-on-one meeting with each employee who reports to you. They like to know that they will have this time every week. Encourage employees to come prepared with questions, requests for support, troubleshooting ideas for their work, and information that will keep you from being blindsided or disappointed by a failure to produce on schedule or as committed.
Employees find interaction and communication with and attention from senior and executive managers motivational. In a recent study by Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson), the Global Workforce Study which included nearly 90,000 workers from 18 countries, the role of senior managers in attracting employee discretionary effort exceeded that of immediate supervisors.
- Communicate openly, honestly and frequently. Hold whole staff meetings periodically, attend department meetings regularly, and communicate by wandering around work areas engaging staff and demonstrating interest in their work.
- Implement an open door policy for staff members to talk, share ideas, and discuss concerns. Make sure that managers understand the problems that they can and should solve will be directed back to them, but it is the executiveâ€™s job to listen.
- Congratulate staff on life events such as new babies, inquire about vacation trips, and ask about how both personal and company events turned out. Care enough to stay tuned into these kinds of employee life events and activities.