Any business, large or small, needs their employees to be motivated to be productive. Motivated employees work harder, faster and ultimately get more done.
But if, as an SME owner, you want motivation of your people to be massive, it might be worth reconsidering your approach.
Your incentive and reward programme doesn’t have to be all bells and whistles.
On the contrary, the basics are what count the most: a simple, human and transparent approach to motivation that inspires trust and treats each employee in the way they deserve: as an individual.
Staff motivation: your challenge to own
Cracking the whip to increase productivity may work for short periods of time, but to keep productivity levels high over longer periods you would have to keep upping the pressure.
This is not a sustainable operating model.
Staff become stressed, job satisfaction goes down, staff absences go up and the result is the opposite of what you wanted to achieve.
On the other hand, employees who feel motivated to work put the hours in, they are likely to be committed and creative, and turn out high quality work that they take pride in.
But while it’s tempting to lay the blame for lack of motivation on the employee, unless you’ve made a bad recruitment decision, motivation is the employer’s onus. And it’s not something you can just expect from an individual or a team, it’s something you have to earn.
This means putting people before targets and inspiring them as opposed to simply managing them. As the person in charge of your business, you have to think and act differently to ensure your managers and leaders do the same.
It isn’t about reviewing the way you do one or two things; it’s a fundamental change in behaviour and attitude in order to create a culture of appreciation and recognition in the workplace.
Massive motivation – mind the gap
We all recognise the characteristics of a motivated workforce. It’s when everyone is performing at their best, when targets are being smashed, attention to quality and service is second nature and the whole company is alive with ideas, energy and positivity.
The truth is, nearly every business faces a motivation gap.
The 2016 Edenred Wellbeing Barometer found that around a third of employees are unhappy at work. This is down to a combination of factors – a lack of pride and commitment to the bigger picture, a bad attitude towards teamwork and a lack of opportunity and empowerment to help shape the success of the business: “If I’m not going to be heard and it’s not going to make any difference, why should I bother?”
Time for a different approach
The most important consideration when it comes to employee motivation is that one size doesn’t fit all. No more excuses from leaders for teams lacking motivation!
They must learn to recognise the individual motivations of an increasingly diverse, multi-generational workforce with different attitudes and career expectations.
It is only by building and nurturing strong relationships on an individual basis that employees will be motivated to work towards a common goal and feel appreciated by their leaders and peers for their contribution.
This applies as much to the retention of good employees as it does to the recruitment of new talent.
So whichever way you look at it, the message is clear – if you want to build a successful organisation, motivation should be at the heart of everything you do.
Andy Philpott is sales and marketing director at Edenred.